Intro to Screen Music Composition Online

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This fascinating online course provides anyone with a little musical creativity and a music software program with the tools to adapt their skills to creating music for the screen.


In this course, you'll study examples from the greatest film composers of all time, including John Williams (Star Wars), Ennio Morricone (Django Unchained), Hans Zimmer (Inception), Thomas Newman (American Beauty) and many more, to find out how it's done by the masters and how you can apply their techniques to your own original score.

The course covers essential concepts for composers of screen music, including:
  • An introduction to screen music
  • Why have music in film?
  • How to organise the score
  • Hit points
  • Time code
  • Interpreting film for composers
  • Digital audio workstation basics
  • Midi basics
  • Mixing & bouncing
  • Presentation of works to class/critique

By the end of this course you will have created, mixed and produced your own original music for several pieces of film.


The rapid increase in worldwide content creation, including film, short film, documentary, corporate video, web series, television series and television commercials, is providing an unprecedented opportunity for composers and music creators to earn an income from their musical works.

This course is taught in English, and is open to international students as well as those within Australia.


“I feel like we benefitted a great deal from Matt’s practical approach to teaching, his experience, professionalism and knowledge, inspiring us to learn and improve upon our own skills. I would highly recommend the course to any musician, as well as any filmmaker interested in learning more about what music can bring to a film.”

“Matt's friendly, personable style of conducting tutorials quickly engaged the whole class. He has a real knack for making complex ideas easy to understand, always finding a way of putting them in a practical, real-world context. Even with a disparate group of students with wide-ranging backgrounds and levels of experience, he was never stumped for an answer. He was very generous with sharing his expertise, knowledge of the industry, and first-hand experience, always going beyond the textbook. I learned a huge amount, and enjoyed the course immensely.”


This is an introductory course. You do not need to have any previous experience.

The ability to read and write musical notation is not a prerequisite for this course.

This course is only open to students aged 18 +. If you are under 18, you will not be eligible to attend this course.


This course has a large workload. It includes:

  • 8 base modules with a variety of weekly assignments and activities
  • 10-hour workload per week
  • 2 x weekly 90-minute video chat sessions (all chats are recorded for viewing at your convenience)
  • Film/clip viewings and film score review assignments
  • Weekly composition assignments
  • Online videos of interviews with industry professionals


Matt McGowen is a Screen Music Composer, Sound Designer, Sound Engineer and Video Producer. He is a graduate from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) where he completed the Graduate Certificate (2011) and the Graduate Diploma (2012) courses, both with distinction. He now teaches several short courses for AFTRS Open.

Matt produces music for a wide range of screen music projects including; short films, television commercials, web commercials, documentaries, web series and corporate promos. He has worked with local and international clients including 20th Century Fox ("24" Live Another Day), Sony, Virgin, Telstra, NSW Government, University of Technology Sydney, Spec-Savers, and AFTRS. Matt composed the score for The Orchard, (short by Director Laura Scrivano) starring Alex Dimitriades and Georgia Flood, which won the 2013 European Union Film Award and gained entry into the Cannes Film Festival. He also recently produced and scored a long form television commercial for UTS Jumbunna-Indigenous House of Learning.


The ability to read and write musical notation is not a prerequisite for this course. The course will focus on Logic Pro & Pro Tools as the audio workstations of choice, although students are welcome to use any audio workstation of their choosing during the course.

To participate in this course you MUST have a computer with an internet connection (broadband wired OR wireless 3G or 4G/LTE) and the ability to enable cookies within your web browser.

Mac Users: It is best to use Safari, Google Chrome or Firefox as your web browser.
PC Users: It is best to use Google Chrome or Explorer as your web browser.

The chat sessions use Zoom (video conferencing software), to which we provide a link for free download.

You must have the following to use Zoom:

An internet connection - broadband wired or wireless (3G or 4G/LTE)
Speakers and a microphone - built in, USB, plug in or wireless Bluetooth
A webcam or HD webcam- built in, USB, plug in, or a HD camera or camcorder, with a video capture card

To participate in this course you MUST have an internet connection (broadband wired OR wireless 3G or 4G/LTE), Google Chrome, and the ability to enable cookies within your web browser.

Have any questions? Please get in touch: or 1300 065 281


AFTRS reserves the right to cancel any course for any reason at any time. In the event of a course being cancelled a full refund of course fees will be provided. If a participant wishes to withdraw from a course, they may do so up to 15 days before the course commences and get a full refund. Cancellations 14 days or less before course commencement will incur a fee. For more information on AFTRS Open's policies, including refund policies, please see our policies page


The Australian Film Television and Radio School would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Bidjigal people and Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, on whose land we meet, work, study and teach. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.