Score IT! Plus – SWEEP

Entries for Score IT! 2018 are closed. Finalists will be announced in June.

A young chimney sweep stops at nothing to rescue a cat and win a girl’s heart.

Running Time 2:52

Sweep, Directed by Keeley-Jane Kirshaw, Griffith Film School



Competition Opens
Mon 22 January 2018

Competition Closes
Fri 18 May 2018

Awards Ceremony
Wed 25 July 2018

Cameron Patrick Public Lecture (ticketed)
Fri 27 July 2018

For any enquiries please email



1. The composer has presented a full score for the specified instrumentation with ALL metronome marks and tempo changes clearly indicated throughout the score and the score written in concert pitch, with nothing transposed. For a more full explanation of concert pitch and transposing instruments, see ‘Cam’s Composing Tips’ below.

2. The composer has provided a digital PDF of the final score in either portrait or landscape orientation. (NO instrumental parts. Just the score). A suggested score layout is available in downloadable PDF format here.

3. The composer has provided a music notation file of the score (in Sibelius, Finale, MuseScore or similar).

4. The composer has provided a digital Quicktime version of the film with a synthesized/sampled audio mock-up of the score synched and embedded.

5. The score effectively and convincingly realises the dramatic intent of the Film as specified by the Director’s musical brief.

6. The composer has presented an original, creative and imaginative composition that demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of film music composition.

7. The composer has scored the film from the opening frame of the film (after the countdown leader and 2-pip) through to the final frame of the end credits (the last blue title card where it says: “QMF.ORG.AU/SCORE-IT with the hash tags underneath).  Ensure the last chord of the score has time to ring out and die away before 3:26, and the music doesn’t continue after the last title card.

Note: When exporting your score to PDF format, please double check and make sure the music for the transposing instruments is not transposed during the conversion process.  Remember, the score is to be in concert pitch!


Director’s Musical Brief by Keeley-Jane Kirshaw

Sweep is a story where the music is all about what is happening off-screen in the boy’s heart. There is one exception to this but we will talk about that in a minute. Sweep’s music needs to reflect the emotion the boy feels at any given moment in order to heighten the stakes of the boy winning the girl’s heart.

It also needs to reflect the location and time period in which it takes place … London in the early 1880’s to 1890’s. Anything in the classical strings category would work really well!

I told Sweep’s composer that I would love something in between Thomas Newman’s music (example being ‘The Letter That Never Came’, and the main theme in the Professor Layton and the Unwound Future soundtrack). The Letter That Never Came is a great example of a piece that portrays the emotions swelling in a character’s heart, and was used for that in the scene of the film it was written for. The Unwound Future theme is a great example of music that reflects the setting in a whimsical way fit for a game set in London. Of course, the film’s score is not limited to these examples!

The one exception mentioned earlier to the film’s score being all about what is happening off-screen in the boy’s heart occurs during the first act where the girl is dancing in the window, she seems hear music around her that is inspiring her to dance. It doesn’t matter that we don’t see who is playing the music (it’s coming from a party in another part of the house), only that the girl and the boy hear it within the environment of the film.  It is the music that attracts the boy’s attention in the first place, so in a way, the music spurs the entire film into action and you could use that as the main theme of Sweep. Having this music be romantic, soft, or even enchanting is key, because not only does it make the girl look ethereal in her first shots, but it also explains how the boy is feeling.

The chase scene must hit the visual beats of the story in order to drive the chase forward to its destination. The music should rev up in intensity as soon as the boy’s feet hit the ground after dropping off the balcony, showing a change in pace and a new goal for the character. Whether you use the same instruments as the music before is up to you, but don’t feel limited to using the party’s music again here in the chase.

In the alleyway, the music must quieten for the sound effects to take priority. The boy is listening in for anything that might give away the cat’s location, so to have anything but soft music or no music there might be distracting as the audience will also be listening in. If the music is quietened or a silence is used, it should swell up again when it is revealed that the old man found the cat for the boy.

The music in the first scene can also come back as a reprise during the last scene – a reminder to the audience that the feeling of love is still there, but now in a more resolved and calmer way. Bringing this particular score back can be really good to hit the audience with emotion.

A lot of these are simply suggestions and not necessarily things you should feel strictly limited to. If there is anything important to remember it is to keep Sweep’s music within its setting and use the music to show the audience what is in the boy’s heart. Everything else are suggestions to help if you are looking for ideas or a blueprint to start your composition.

Thank you very much and the best of luck!

Keeley-Jane Kirshaw


Note: It is a requirement that students write for all 4 woodwind players and their instruments; all 3 brass players and their instruments; and all 5 string players and their instruments as listed in the ensemble below. The student must also write for at least one (1) percussionist.  If necessary, the student may write for a second percussionist. There is to be no more than two (2) percussionists.

1 x flute
1 x oboe
1 x b-flat clarinet
1 x bassoon
1 x b-flat trumpet
1 x French horn
1 x trombone (tenor)
2 x violins (1 x first violin, 1 x second violin)
1 x viola
1 x cello
1 x double bass
1 or 2 x percussion (no large keyboard percussion instruments, only instruments from the list below)


Students can choose from the following list of percussion instruments:

  • snare drum
  • bass drum
  • timpani (maximum of 3 drums: 1×32”, 1×29”, 1×26”)
  • tam-tam
  • suspended cymbal
  • tambourine
  • small shaker
  • wood block
  • temple blocks
  • castanets
  • cow bell
  • triangle
  • mark tree
  • bell tree
  • glockenspiel
  • chimes (tubular bells)

You are not required to write for all the percussion instruments listed above. You may select a manageable number of percussion instruments from the list to use in the score.

Keep in mind the time it takes for a player to move from instrument to instrument, and to change mallets and sticks. You must allow a few beats rest – or sometimes a few bars rest – for the player to move to a new instrument and to pick up a new set of sticks or mallets if necessary.

If you write for two (2) percussionists, the players must not swap instruments. For example, if Percussionist #1 plays the snare drum, then they must always play the snare drum, and Percussionist #2 cannot. The snare drum becomes part of Percussionist #1’s instrument setup and will not be played at any point by Percussionist #2.

NOTE:  It is helpful if all parts for each percussionist are consolidated onto one staff



Greetings Score IT! Plus 2018 participants!

I just wanted to type a few words of welcome and say how very thrilled and honoured I am to once again be involved in this year’s program. I look forward to seeing and hearing all of the Score IT! Plus entries and meeting as many of you as I can while I’m in Brisbane for the Score IT! ceremony and public lecture in July. I hope you’re all enjoying the process of scoring Sweep and are letting your minds and imaginations soar with creative ideas.

The starting point for your composition, once you have watched the film through a number of times, should be to carefully read the Director’s Musical Brief on the Score IT! Plus page of the QMF website. If you were scoring this film in the “real world,” you would meet with the Director before you start composing and talk about his or her (in this case her) concept for the music. Scoring a film isn’t just about what music you want to write to accompany the images. Rather, it is a collaborative effort between the Director and the Composer. You are working with, and for, the Director and must listen very carefully to her opinions. Consequently, a big part of the judging criteria that I will take into consideration when choosing the winners will be to see who has followed the Director’s suggestions and who hasn’t.

In reading the Director’s Musical Brief, you’ll see that the Director has a very definite concept for the musical sound of the score. She mentions two very distinct styles she likes … including YouTube links of musical examples that she feels capture the type of sound and moods she’s looking for. Obviously, neither of these musical examples uses exactly the same ensemble we are using for Score It! Plus 2018, but they are an excellent way to point you in the right direction with a feel for your score. Using existing music to help put the Director and the Composer on the same “musical page” is very common in the world of film scoring.

The Thomas Newman piece gives a good example of a beautiful, romantic theme … in this case played by piano, then strings … that builds and builds towards a definite resolution point (at about 3:42).

The Professor Layton theme gives some stylistic inspiration … have a listen up till about 1:42 for the part that is appropriate to our film. The marcato/staccato strings do have an English feel as well as a mischievous tension that might work to both place the story in an older historical time period and provide some good momentum for the boy-chasing-the-cat sequence.

Don’t forget, in thinking about the sound of your score, you have 4 woodwind instruments, 3 brass instruments and 2 percussion instruments to use as well as your strings. By mentioning “classical strings,” the Director certainly doesn’t mean for you to ignore the other instruments at your disposal. Use every player in our 14-piece ensemble at some point during your score. But more about this in a minute!

Now that we have a better idea what the sound of your score is going to be, the next step is to develop the building blocks for your score i.e. your themes and motifs. If this were a full-length motion picture, you could have any number of themes … for the boy, for the girl, for the cat … even for the old chimney sweep. But, with the film being only a little over 3’00” minutes, that might prove to be simply too much material.

What to do?

Well, have a look at the Director’s opening sentence:

Sweep is a story where the music is all about what is happening off-screen in the boy’s heart.”

and the 8th paragraph:

“If there is anything important to remember it is to keep Sweep’s music within its setting and use the music to show the audience what is in the boy’s heart.”

So here’s your clue as to how to structure your score: the central theme of this score should not be for a character, but for a feeling. The director wants the main theme of the film to be something romantic, soft or enchanting … in essence a love theme … that brings the audience into the boy’s emotions and shows what he is feeling in his heart towards the girl. In a short story like this, this is a perfect approach.

I would build a nice rich theme for their budding romance … one you can mould by changing the harmonies and the orchestration to help carry the audience along on this journey from when the boy first sees the girl to the end where he smiles with absolute joy after she wipes the dirt from his face.

The Director mentions introducing this theme in an interesting way … as the music both the boy and the girl hear coming from a party somewhere else in the house in the first scene … the music that is inspiring the girl to dance in the window. See how clever you can be in introducing it and making it evolve as they interact with each other.

Next on the score building block list are the old chimney sweep and the cat. While they are important to the story … the old sweep “comments” on the action by reacting to what the boy does and the cat provides a reason for the boy to get further involved and for the girl to rely on him … there may not be time in such a short score to fit in much more than a brief motif for each of them.  By this I mean don’t write full themes for each of them, but rather come up with a short recognizable combination of notes … one for the old sweep and one for the cat … a musical “signature” if you like played by a specific instrument or combination of instruments … … that you can use and reuse throughout whenever you want to refer to them musically.  Just a suggestion!

The Director has laid out a pretty detailed roadmap of the emotional journey you need to take the audience on with your music. Her notes provide you with an almost foolproof scene-by-scene guide to scoring the film, so make sure you put it to good use and follow it!

In crafting your score for our 14-piece ensemble, don’t approach it as though you were writing a large-scale symphonic score which you then have to shrink down to make work with 5 strings somehow having to do the work of 60; 4 woodwinds having to do the work of 12; 3 brass having to do the work of 11; and 2 percussionists covering as much as they can in place of 4 or 5. As opposed to viewing it as a “poor man’s orchestra” that forces you to leave out a lot of notes to make it work, rather think of it as a large chamber music group; and a 14-piece chamber group is considered big! Fashion your music to take advantage of the huge array of colours available to you from each of the instruments and their families.

Of course, everyone can be used as a soloist, can play in unison, or can be blended together in various combinations. With some careful dynamic balancing, the woodwinds and brass can play chords together, as can the strings. But remember, and I’ll reference the strings as an example as it holds true for the woodwinds and brass too, 5 strings playing together does not sound like an orchestral string section. They sound like a string quintet, which is a very different sound. For your reference, check out some of the string quartets/quintets, woodwind quartets and brass trios on iTunes or Amazon to hear how distinct these combinations are in a chamber music setting such as this.

One of the big things to remember is that your score will (hopefully!) be played in real time by a group of live instrumentalists. With that in mind, give the winds and brass time to breathe, give the strings time to switch between pizzicato and arco, and give the strings and brass time to wrestle mutes into place if required. The most important people to consider in this particular live performance situation are the percussionists. They will have to set up all of the instruments you want them to use within reach, in their own instrumental “station” and will have to pick up and put down a variety of sticks and mallets to play them, so build some time into the music to do this with rests!

Also remember when writing for a live performance to avoid any sudden extreme changes in tempo unless the new tempo is effectively set up a few beats in advance over a held note, a held chord or period of silence. Even though we’ll be playing to a click track, this kind of “new tempo preparation” is very useful and gives the conductor and musicians a chance to play in time with the new tempo right off the bat.

Find fun and creative ways to experiment with the orchestration of your composition. Try one section of the music with just the strings, one with just the woodwinds or one with just the brass.  Try having the clarinet or the bassoon play as part of the brass section or put the horn with the woodwinds. Let your imagination for instrumental colours wander! No one instrument should play all the time (especially not the percussion) and try to save the full ensemble playing together for the big action or emotional sequences.

Don’t be afraid to use silence, i.e. bars rest, in your score too.  The music doesn’t have to play continuously. Sometimes taking all the music out for a few beats can make an emotional moment even more effective, as can reintroducing music after a short period of silence.

Remember, the film has no dialogue, just sound effects, so you are creating most of the audio world in which this story takes place with your music, right through to the end of the credits.

Once again, I look forward to meeting you all in July.

Have fun!






Score It! Plus will be judged by award-winning screen composer and orchestrator, Cameron Patrick, who will select three semi-finalists for the Plus category, from which one finalist will be awarded as the winner. The winner of Score IT! Plus will see their orchestration come to life, live at the Award Ceremony on Wednesday 25 July 2018.


Yes, you can enter more than one category depending on your year level. For example, students can enter Junior and Plus or Senior and Plus.


  • Two return airfares and accommodation to Brisbane, for finalist and supervising adult to attend the Award Ceremony on Wednesday 25 July 2018
  • Masterclass with Cameron Patrick
  • Workshop at Queensland School of Film and TV, on how to make a film.
  • Two tickets to the Cameron Patrick public lecture on Friday 27 July 2018
  • Winning composition will be recorded with the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University ensemble and conducted by Cameron Patrick
  • Winning composition will be performed live by musicians from the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University ensemble
  • The winner’s name will appear on a special title card as Composer (replacing the film’s original composer) in the end credits of the version of Sweep screened at the Score It! Plus ceremony/performance and on the version of the film provided to the winner.
  • The winner will have a meeting with the Director and Producer of Sweep to discuss the film and it’s newly-composed winning score and the possibility of future collaborations. (TBC)
  • The winner will have a chance to conduct their score through a couple of times (using a click track under Cameron Patrick’s supervision) with the Queensland Conservatorium Ensemble at their first rehearsal.
  • + awesome tech gear

Score IT! is free to enter and does not have any registration or other fees.

If you chose to mail in your composition and score all costs including DVD and mailing charges are the responsibility of each entrant.

Should airfares and accommodation not be required by the finalist, other travel allowances may be made available. All food, incidentals and personal costs related to the Brisbane trip are at the cost of finalist.

Online entries or posted entries must be lodged by midnight Friday 18 May 2018.


Director: Keeley-Jane Kirshaw

Producer: Shieyanne Copley

Writing: Keeley-Jane Kirshaw

Storyboarding: Keeley-Jane Kirshaw

Concept Art: Keeley-Jane Kirshaw | Loko Lui | Emilia Cilento

Background Artist: Yael Gilbert

Animating: Keeley-Jane Kirshaw | Loko Lui | Emilia Cilento | Eric H Lin | Joyce Mekonnen | Corteney Morgan | Alex Praças | Ryan O’Dwyer | India Webster

Clean Up: Keeley-Jane Kirshaw | Loko Lui | Shieyanne Copley | Eric H Lin | Andy Nguyen | Emilia Cilento

Colourist: Keeley-Jane Kirshaw | Shieyanne Copley | Ryan O’Dwyer | Loko Lui | Alyssa Torres | Juné du Plessis

Music: Kyle Lacey-Janetzki

SFX: Oscar Jemmott

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