A Music Editor would be hired to put in temporary music. We would use [an old] score as a library source to put music in this new movie. It’s going to be there temporarily — just for the screenings — because the Composer will be hired to write the score. That’s why it’s called a temp score. Some people will talk about it being “temp” as in “template”; what a smart Composer does is mimic it in a way, because the Director obviously likes it.
One of the major challenges Composers have these days versus the old days is walking that line between paying attention to the temp track but still adding your own voice.
The Music Editor traditionally focuses on helping the Composer prepare for the score, so the first thing the Music Editor does is do all the timing notes. If you’re a Composer and you want to have a written record of where all the cues start and end and the important points within the cue, (you know, if the Director says ‘I want to make sure you emphasize the gunshot’) the Music Editor is taking those notes down.
Technology is changing it a lot. [Often] Music Editors don’t have to type up notes anymore because [now] the Composer only needs to know where the music starts and they can put in the points they want.
Composers write the music and ship it to the Music Editor, who prepares the film for the scoring session, where we put punches and streamers and colors and all kinds of stuff on it to help the Conductor match up where all the sync points are. Then at the scoring session, the Music Editor makes sure that stuff runs correctly and coordinates with the Engineers.
After the session, the Music Editor will sit with the Engineer, supervise the mixdown of the tracks, load it all into Pro Tools and take it back to the studio. Meanwhile, the Film Editor is still making changes and shipping new versions to the Music Editor, who now has to cut the music up so it matches the new cut and maintain the integrity of the score while making those changes.
They go to preview [screenings], come back, and based on the notes from the studio and the audience, they’ll make changes. Again, the Music Editor makes those edits so it still works and makes sense. [The Music Editor also] fills out the cue sheet for licensing because that’s how a Composer gets royalties.