Nicholas Buc and film score preparation

Scoring Notes
Scoring Notes
Nicholas Buc and film score preparation

Nicholas Buc is a composer, conductor, and arranger whose recent conducting engagements have taken him around the globe conducting live-to-picture concerts featuring the most beloved movie scores of our time. We discuss his career and the many ways that music preparation and technology can provide the score with the Midas touch in those high-stakes performances. Nick helps us avoid the phantom menace of notation pitfalls, giving us all a new hope in our quest for the holy grail of music engraving perfection. Philip Rothman and David MacDonald join Nick as we learn what it’s like to be part of his world.

Read more on Scoring Notes: Preparing David Newman’s Matilda score for live orchestra

Nick’s podcast: Art of the Score


  1. Kevin Weed

    Thank you for this podcast. I love listening. I wanted to weigh in on a couple subjects.

    1- I have found a few times that breaking up four or eight bar phrases unevenly over the systems made it easy to read. For instance, if several phrases in a row are identical, players might go to the wrong line and get lost. So if some of the phrases start in the middle of the line it’s easier to keep track of where you are. At least it seems that way to me.

    2- I will use a term like Allegro in a concert piece so that orchestras of different abilities will still play in a lively manner even if the tempos are different.

    Thanks again for the great discussion.

    1. Philip Rothman

      Good tips, thanks, Kevin! I am really glad you’re enjoying the podcast.

      In Clint Roemer’s “The Art of Music Copying” he does make a case for when phrases can start in the middle of a system. It’s definitely not a hard-and-fast rule. It all depends on context.

      With film scores and live-to-picture, the metronome needs to be totally precise, so I think that’s the point Nick was making — a descriptive tempo mark would be redundant if the tempo needs to be exactly q = 137.5, for instance. Certainly when the tempo can be more freely interpreted, terms like “Allegro” are very useful, as you have said.

      Thanks again!

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