Screen Scoring

Master of Music (MM)

All applicants must possess an undergraduate degree. If that degree is not in composition, equivalent professional experience will be considered. Previous education and/or experience working with visual media is not mandatory; however, the selection process does favor those applicants who demonstrate the ability or potential to compose and produce music to picture. Applicants also are expected to possess basic-level proficiency in music technology, i.e., digital audio workstations (Pro Tools preferred); writing programs (Logic preferred); and notation programs (Sibelius preferred). Those applicants selected for enrollment in the scoring program who lack such skills will be required to complete introductory classes in these subjects prior to entering the scoring program. (Lynda.com offers courses online at very reasonable prices.)

Required submission materials:

  • 1. A video introduction of yourself at your workstation that is 2 to 3 minutes in length. On this video, please detail for us your music history, including formal studies along with any performing, composing, arranging, conducting, and scoring to visuals. Second, please discuss your familiarity with music technology while providing a description of your private-studio workspace and process; and relate your experience, if any, in recording, mixing, or producing recordings. We ask that you not add source music or an underscore to this introductory video. Video introductions will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.
  • 2. Full scores (with optional sketches) in .PDF format of 3 original compositions, to be uploaded to the USC Thornton SlideRoom Portal (see below). Compositions will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.
  • 3. Audio recordings of your 3 submitted compositions, at least two of which must be presented on Quicktime in sync with video picture, and all of which must be uploaded to the USC Thornton SlideRoom Portal (see below). The submitted audio/video samples of your work can be from visual-media projects that you scored originally, or, alternatively, from a film, television, or other visual-media source in which you replace the original audio track with your own music. Your three original compositions should convey your ability to capture mood, color, action and panorama for the visual media through both composition and orchestration. We request that you demonstrate a range of styles in your submissions (i.e., don’t submit 3 action cues). The selection committee will appreciate receiving live recorded works whenever possible; however, midi-generated recordings, as well as hybrid recordings (i.e., midi combined with live recordings), are acceptable. In any case, it is important that all submitted scores be professionally rendered in either Finale or Sibelius and that they accurately reflect the recordings. Applicants are permitted to submit only one cue per any one visual-media project. In other words, an applicant may submit up to three scored scenes, but those 3 scenes must be from three different projects. The total running time of all 3 submitted works should be not less than 5 nor more than 15 minutes in length. Recordings will not be accepted via mail or email for this program.
  • 4. TOEFL or IELTS scores (required from International applicants only) Details regarding USC’s language proficiency requirements as well as minimum score guidlines can be found here.

The Video Introduction, Compositions, and Recordings must be submitted online through the “Fall SlideRoom portal” by the December 1st deadline. Any application not complete by December 1 may be removed from consideration.

For instructions on how to access the SlideRoom portal to submit your recording click HERE

International Applicants

Please review special requirements for International applicants here. In addition to the application materials required of all applicants, international applicants must submit certified translations of any transcript or diploma not issued in English, and a statement of financial support. In addition, those international applicants whose native language is not English must submit scores from the TOEFL or IELTS scores in compliance with the requirements listed here. Please make sure you submit language test scores by the posted deadline, or you may not be considered. Do not assume that having a degree from an American, British, or other English-speaking country makes you exempt from this requirement. We encourage you to contact Thornton Admissions to discuss your specific circumstances, rather than assume that you are exempt from the language test requirement. (uscmusic@usc.edu, 213-740-8986)

Additional information

The creation and production of music for visual media involves the use of sophisticated technological tools and expertise; therefore, only students comfortable in using such technology should apply for participation in this program. Finally, admission to the Screen Scoring program is limited to fall semesters only.

Read more details about the program