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How to Denote a Song in a Script


Songs are an integral part of watching television shows and movies. While some screenwriters wait for the music supervisor to choose a song to fit the mood, other screenwriters place specific music cues or even write scenes around a particular song. One popular example? The scene around the table in "My Best Friend's Wedding" where the entire cast sings "I Say a Little Prayer" written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Like many of the rules in screenwriting, there is no set format on how to denote a song. For example, some authors choose to place a song in "bold" lettering while others do not. Perhaps the most important thing is the screenwriter being consistent in his citations throughout the screenplay.

Type the words MUSIC CUE: on a separate line starting in the first space of the left margin. Some writers prefer the term MUSIC UP. Depending on style, you may wish to bold the phrase.

Add the name of the song. For example, if the song is "'Til There Was You" add it next to the colon. Depending on style preference, you may wish to italicize the song title. If so, do not place it in quotes.

MUSIC CUE: "'Til There Was You"

"'Til There Was You" was written by Meredith Wilson for the musical, "The Music Man." However, several bands, including The Beatles, covered the song. Place the name of the artist who recorded the song on a separate, so the reader knows the version that is meant to be played under the scene. For the example, use The Beatles.

MUSIC CUE: "'Til There Was You" by The Beatles

Place an END MUSIC cue on a separate line where you wish the music to end. Place this in the first space of the left margin as in Step 1. Additionally, match the same style of Step 1. Note, some screenwriters omit this because it is inherent in the context of the scene that the music is over. If denoting multiple songs throughout the screenplay, keep it consistent.

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