A soundtrack, also written sound track, can be recorded music
accompanying and synchronized to the images of a motion picture, book,
television program or video game; a commercially released soundtrack
album of music as featured in the soundtrack of a film, video or
television presentation; or the physical area of a film that contains
the synchronized recorded sound.
1 Origin of the term
2 Types of recordings
Film score albums
2.3 Composite film tracks included on record
3 Movie and television soundtracks
Video game soundtracks
5 Theme park, cruise ship and event soundtracks
7 List of best-selling soundtrack albums
8 See also
10 External links
Origin of the term
In movie industry terminology usage, a sound track is an audio
recording created or used in film production or post-production.
Initially the dialogue, sound effects, and music in a film each has
its own separate track (dialogue track, sound effects track, and music
track), and these are mixed together to make what is called the
composite track, which is heard in the film. A dubbing track is often
later created when films are dubbed into another language. This is
also known as a M & E track (music and effects) containing all
sound elements minus dialogue which is then supplied by the foreign
distributor in the native language of its territory.
The contraction soundtrack came into public consciousness with the
advent of so-called "soundtrack albums" in the late 1940s. First
conceived by movie companies as a promotional gimmick for new films,
these commercially available recordings were labeled and advertised as
"music from the original motion picture soundtrack", or "music from
and inspired by the motion picture." These phrases were soon shortened
to just "original motion picture soundtrack." More accurately, such
recordings are made from a film's music track, because they usually
consist of the isolated music from a film, not the composite (sound)
track with dialogue and sound effects.
The abbreviation OST is often used to describe the musical soundtrack
on a recorded medium, such as CD, and it stands for Original
Soundtrack; however, it is sometimes also used to differentiate the
original music heard and recorded versus a rerecording or cover of the
Types of recordings
Types of soundtrack recordings include:
Musical film soundtracks are for the film versions of musical theatre;
they concentrate primarily on the songs
(Examples: Grease, Singin' in the Rain)
Film scores showcase the primarily instrumental musical themes and
background music from movies
(Examples: Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings)
For movies that contain both orchestral film scores and pop songs,
both types of music
Albums of popular songs heard in whole or part in the background of
(Examples: Sleepless in Seattle, When Harry Met Sally...)
Video game soundtracks are often released after a game's release,
usually consisting of the theme and background music from the game's
levels, menus, title screens, promo material (such as entire songs of
which only segments were used in the game), cut-screens and
occasionally sound-effects used in the game
(Examples: Sonic Heroes, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Albums which contain both music and dialogue from the film, such as
the 1968 Romeo and Juliet, or the first authentic soundtrack album of
The Wizard of Oz.
The soundtrack to the 1937
Walt Disney animated film Snow White and
the Seven Dwarfs was the first commercially issued film soundtrack.
It was released by
RCA Victor Records
RCA Victor Records on multiple 78 RPM discs in
January 1938 as Songs from Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven
Dwarfs (with the Same Characters and Sound Effects as in the
That Title) and has since seen numerous expansions and reissues.
The first live-action musical film to have a commercially issued
soundtrack album was MGM’s 1946 film biography of
Show Boat composer
Jerome Kern, Till the Clouds Roll By. The album was originally issued
as a set of four 10-inch 78-rpm records. Only eight selections from
the film were included in this first edition of the album. In order to
fit the songs onto the record sides the musical material needed
editing and manipulation. This was before tape existed, so the record
producer needed to copy segments from the playback discs used on set,
then copy and re-copy them from one disc to another adding transitions
and cross-fades until the final master was created. Needless to say,
it was several generations removed from the original and the sound
quality suffered for it. The playback recordings were purposely
recorded very "dry" (without reverberation); otherwise it would come
across as too hollow sounding in large movie theatres. This made these
albums sound flat and boxy.
MGM Records called these "original cast albums" in the style of Decca
Broadway show cast albums mostly because the material on the disc(s)
would not lock to picture, thereby creating the largest distinction
between `Original Motion Picture Soundtrack' which, in its strictest
sense would contain music that would lock to picture if the home user
would play one alongside the other and `Original Cast Soundtrack'
which in its strictest sense would refer to studio recordings of film
music by the original film cast, but which had been edited and/or
rearranged for time and content and would not lock to picture.
In reality, however, soundtrack producers remain ambiguous about this
distinction, and titles in which the music on the album does lock to
picture may be labeled as OCS and music from an album that does not
lock to picture may be referred to as OMPS.
The phrase "recorded directly from the soundtrack" was used for a
while in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s to differentiate material that
would lock to picture from that which would not (excluding alternate
masters and alternate vocals or solos), but again, in part because
many 'film takes' actually consisted of several different attempts at
the song and edited together to form the master, that term as well
became nebulous and vague over time when, in cases where the master
take used in the film could not be found in its isolated form,
(without the M&E) the aforementioned alternate masters and
alternate vocal and solo performances which could be located were
included in their place.
As a result of all this nebulosity, over the years the term
"soundtrack" began to be commonly applied to any recording from a
film, whether taken from the actual film soundtrack or re-recorded in
the studio at an earlier or later time. The phrase is also sometimes
incorrectly used for Broadway cast recordings. While it is correct in
some instances to call a "soundtrack" a "cast recording" (since in
most cases it contains performances recorded by the original film
cast) it is never correct to call a "cast recording" a "soundtrack."
Contributing to the vagueness of the term are projects such as The
Music Live! which was filmed live on the set for an NBC
holiday season special first broadcast in 2013. The album released
three days before the broadcast contained studio pre-recordings of all
the songs used in the special, performed by the original cast
therefrom, but because only the orchestral portion of the material
from the album is the same as that used in the special, (i.e. the
vocals were sung live over a prerecorded track), this creates a
similar technicality because although the instrumental music bed from
the CD will lock to picture, the vocal performances will not, although
it IS possible to create a complete soundtrack recording by lifting
the vocal performances from the DVD, erasing the alternate vocal
masters from the CD and combining the two.
Among MGM's most notable soundtrack albums were those of the films
Good News, Easter Parade, Annie Get Your Gun, Singin' in the Rain,
Show Boat, The Band Wagon, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Gigi.
Film score albums
Film score albums did not really become popular until the LP era,
although a few were issued in 78-rpm albums. Alex North’s score for
the 1951 film version of A Streetcar Named Desire was released on a
10-inch LP by
Capitol Records and sold so well that the label later
re-released it on one side of a 12-inch LP with some of Max Steiner's
film music on the reverse.
Steiner’s score for Gone with the Wind has been recorded many times,
but when the film was reissued in 1967,
MGM Records finally released
an album of the famous score recorded directly from the soundtrack.
Like the 1967 re-release of the film, this version of the score was
artificially "enhanced for stereo". In recent years,
Rhino Records has
released a 2-CD set of the complete Gone With the Wind score, restored
to its original mono sound.
One of the biggest-selling film scores of all time was John Williams'
music from the movie Star Wars. Many film score albums go out-of-print
after the films finish their theatrical runs and some have become
extremely rare collectors’ items.
Composite film tracks included on record
In a few rare instances an entire film dialogue track was issued on
records. The 1968
Franco Zeffirelli film of Romeo and Juliet was
issued as a 4-LP set, as a single LP with musical and dialogue
excerpts, and as an album containing only the film's musical score.
The ground-breaking film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was issued by
Warner Bros Records as a 2-LP set containing virtually all the
dialogue from the film.
RCA Victor also issued a double-album set what
was virtually all the dialogue from the film soundtrack of A Man for
Decca Records issued a double-album for Man of La Mancha
Disney Music Group
Disney Music Group (formerly Buena Vista Records) issued a similar
double-album for its soundtrack for The Hobbit.
Movie and television soundtracks
Musical film and
Music of Bollywood
In the 2010s, the term soundtrack most commonly refers to the music
used in a movie (or television show), or to an album sold containing
that music. Sometimes, the music has been recorded just for the film
or album (e.g. Saturday Night Fever). Often, but not always, and
depending on the type of movie, the soundtrack album will contain
portions of the score, music composed for dramatic effect as the
movie's plot occurs.
Camille Saint-Saëns composed the first music specifically
for use in a motion picture (L'assasinat du duc de Guise), and
releasing recordings of songs used in films became prevalent in the
1930s. Henry Mancini, who won an
Emmy Award and two Grammys for his
soundtrack to Peter Gunn, was the first composer to have a widespread
hit with a song from a soundtrack.
By convention, a soundtrack record can contain all kinds of music
including music "inspired by" but not actually appearing in the movie;
the score contains only music by the original film's composer(s).
Video game soundtracks
Video game music
Soundtrack may also refer to music used in video games. While sound
effects were nearly universally used for action happening in the game,
music to accompany the gameplay was a later development. Rob Hubbard
Martin Galway were early composers of music specifically for video
games for the 1980s
Commodore 64 computer.
Koji Kondo was an early and
important composer for
Nintendo games. As the technology improved,
polyphonic and often orchestral soundtracks replaced simple monophonic
melodies starting in the late 1980s and the soundtracks to popular
games such as the
Dragon Quest and
Final Fantasy series began to be
released separately. In addition to compositions written specifically
for video games, the advent of CD technology allowed developers to
incorporate licensed songs into their soundtrack (the Grand Theft Auto
series is a good example of this). Furthermore, when Microsoft
released the Xbox in 2001, it featured an option allowing users to
customize the soundtrack for certain games by ripping a CD to the
Theme park, cruise ship and event soundtracks
As in Sound of
Music Live! the music or dialogue in question was
prepared specifically for use in or at an event such as that described
In the case of theme parks, actors may be ensconced in large costumes
where their faces may be obscured. They mime along to a prerecorded
music, effects and narration track that may sound as if it was lifted
from a movie, or may sound as if it had been overly dramatized for
In the case of cruise ships, the small stage spaces do not allow for
full orchestration, so that possibly the larger instruments may be
pre-recorded onto a backing track and the remaining instruments may
play live, or the reverse may occur in such instances as Elvis: The
Concert or Sinatra: His Voice. His World. His Way both of which use
isolated vocal and video performances accompanied by a live band.
In the case of event soundtracks, large public gatherings such as
Hands Across America, The
Live Aid Concert, the 200th Anniversary
Celebration of the U.S. Constitution in Philadelphia, The MUSE
Concerts or the various
Greenpeace events (i.e. The First
Greenpeace Record Project, Rainbow Warriors and
Alternative NRG) all had special music, effects and dialogue written
especially for the event which later went on sale to the record and
later video-buying public.
See also: Category:
Only a few cases exist of an entire soundtrack being written
specifically for a book.
A soundtrack for J. R. R. Tolkien's
The Hobbit and The Lord of the
Rings was composed by Craig Russell for the San Luis Obispo Youth
Symphony. Commissioned in 1995, it was finally put on disk in 2000 by
the San Luis Obispo Symphony.
For the 1996
Star Wars novel Shadows of the Empire (written by author
Joel McNeely to write a score. This was
an eccentric, experimental project, in contrast to all other
soundtracks, as the composer was allowed to convey general moods and
themes, rather than having to write music to flow for specific scenes.
A project called "Sine Fiction" has made some soundtracks to novels
by science fiction writers like
Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, and
has thus far released 19 soundtracks to science-fiction novels or
short stories. All of them are available for free download.
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard composed and recorded a soundtrack album to his
novel Battlefield Earth entitled Space Jazz. He marketed the concept
album as "the only original sound track ever produced for a book
before it becomes a movie". There are two other soundtracks to Hubbard
novels, being Mission Earth by
Edgar Winter and To the Stars by Chick
The 1985 novel
Always Coming Home
Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin, originally
came in a box set with an audiocassette entitled
Music and Poetry of
the Kesh, featuring three performances of poetry, and ten musical
compositions by Todd Barton.
In comics, Daniel Clowes' graphic novel Like a Velvet Glove Cast in
Iron had an official soundtrack album. The original black-and-white
Nexus #3 from Capitol comics included the "Flexi-Nexi" which was a
soundtrack flexi-disc for the issue. Trosper by
Jim Woodring included
a soundtrack album composed and performed by Bill Frisell, and the
Absolute Edition of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black
Dossier is planned to include an original vinyl record. The Crow
released a soundtrack album called
Fear and Bullets
Fear and Bullets to coincide with
the limited edition hardcover copy of the graphic novel. The comic
Hellblazer released an annual with a song called Venus of the
Hardsell, which was then recorded and a music video to accompany with.
The Brazilian graphic novel Achados e Perdidos ("Lost and Found"), by
Eduardo Damasceno and Luís Felipe Garrocho, had an original
soundtrack composed by musician Bruno Ito. The book was self-published
in 2011 after a crowdfunding campaign and was accompanied by a CD with
the eight songs (one for each chapter of the story). In 2012, this
graphic novel won the
Troféu HQ Mix (Brazilian most important comic
book award) in the category "
Internet access became more widespread, a similar practice
developed of accompanying a printed work with a downloadable theme
song, rather than a complete and physically published album. The theme
songs for Nextwave, Runaways, Achewood,
Dinosaur Comics and
Killroy and Tina are examples of this.
In Japan, such examples of music inspired by a work and not intended
to soundtrack a radio play or motion picture adaptation of it are
known as an "image album" or "image song," though this definition also
includes such things as film score demos inspired by concept art and
songs inspired by a TV series which do not feature in it. Many
audiobooks have some form of musical accompaniment, but these are
generally not extensive enough to be released as a separate
List of best-selling soundtrack albums
Soundtrack album § List of best-selling soundtrack
Cast recording – for musical theater
Filmi – term used for Indian film soundtracks
List of soundtrack composers
Music of Bollywood
^ "sound track - definition of sound track by Merriam-Webster.com".
Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2014-08-14.
^ Jerry Osborne (Nov 3, 2006). "Soundtracks start with 'Snow White'".
Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2007-09-12. [dead link]
^ Savage, Mark. "Where Are the New Movie Themes?" BBC, 28 July 2008.
^ Sine Fiction (New) — No Type — electronic & experimental
^ Fantagraphics Books Comics and Graphic Novels – Jim Woodring
Archived 2009-01-07 at the Wayback Machine.
^ "Entrevista com Quadrinhos Rasos – Quando a música inspira HQs".
Pipoca e Nanquim. September 23, 2011.
^ "ACHADOS E PERDIDOS". Universo HQ. December 1, 2011.
^ Marvel Comics News: Next Wave: "And to prove it, we've created the
band Thunder Thighs and commissioned a Theme Song worthy of these
^ Download the All-New Runaways Theme Song Now! Marvel Heroes
Comic News News Marvel.com
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