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Film: Score Vs Soundtrack

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

Everyone loves watching a film. Whether you're watching it for the storyline, the characters or just escaping regular life, there's always a film to enjoy. One specific detail that draws in many is the music; this could be the sleek soundtrack or the sophisticated score. Either way, it's main purpose is to be recognisable and to entertain.

But what’s the difference?

Firstly, a film score contains original pieces that were made for the purpose of featuring in that film. They are usually made by a composer who works with an orchestra to create a certain mood/atmosphere for a specific scene by using instruments. Whether that is used just as background music or to act as a memorable moment. In other cases, a score can also be identified as a leitmotif. An example of a score acting as a leitmotif would be ‘The Imperial March’ being Darth Vader's theme song every time he appears on screen during Star Wars.

Next, a film soundtrack is very different compared to a score. It could contain original composed songs or songs that already exist. One of the major differences between the two is the fact that a soundtrack contains vocals whether that is sung from the characters or are just lyrics in the background. These songs that feature in the film are by different artists or bands that are either paid for their song to be used or are asked to create a specific song for the movie. Popular examples of soundtracks would be many Disney films such as Encanto and Frozen or other films like A Star Is Born and The Greatest Showman.

What makes a soundtrack different from a score is how a soundtrack dictates music across the film as a whole whereas a score is typically used in a scene but can act as a recurring piece.

It’s practically impossible to decide which one is better as they both contain different traits enjoyable to different people. A soundtrack can have you singing it at the top of your lungs whereas a score can leave you mimicking the Duh Duh.. Duh Duh.. from Jaws. So next time you watch a film, have your ears ready for the sneaky score hidden under the dialogue or the sly soundtrack leaving you on the edge of your seat waiting for the moment it bursts out into song.

  • Written by Kara Palmer

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