Tonhalle Maag, Zurich
28 September 2019


Please check first whether your question is already answered in the FAQs below. If it is not, you are welcome to send an email to; we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.


We hope you’ll understand that we cannot provide support for operating music notation programs and sequencer software…


Who is allowed to participate?

Composers of any age, nationality and place of residence are eligible to enter, provided that they have a maximum of three IMDb records (key date: 1 June 2018) as (main) composer or (main) orchestrator in films with duration of 60 minutes or longer. Entries as “composer (additional music)” will not be taken into account.


All film genres (fiction, documentary, animation, episodes of TV series…) will be taken into account.


People who don’t have any IMDb record are, of course, eligible to enter.


The reason behind this restriction is that the competition wants to promote film composers who are at the beginning of their career.


In case of doubt don’t hesitate to contact before you start composing!

How should one proceed for compositions made by a team?

Only one member of the team should register and act as a contact person. The other team members must be entered in the online registration form. Please keep in mind that all the team members must be eligible to enter.


In case of a nomination, Zurich Film Festival will pay for the journey and accommodation of one person only. But, of course, all the team members are welcome to Zurich and will be asked to come on stage on 4 October 2018.


What is the meaning of the instrumentation list in section 3.1 of the regulations?


3 flutes (one player can also play piccolo, another player can also play alto flute)

3 oboes (one player can also play english horn)

3 clarinets (one player can also play bass clarinet)

3 bassoons (one player can also play contrabassoon)
The players can switch instruments during the piece, but you must provide enough time for it in your score.

4 french horns

4 trumpets (in B flat or in C)

3 trombones (2 tenor trombones and 1 bass trombone)

1 tuba


timp, 4 perc, drum set

1 player for 4 timpani

4 players for orchestral percussion – full list in the next FAQ

1 player for a drum set


pno or cel / egtr, bgtr / harp

1 keyboard player who can play either piano or celesta 
(The player can switch instruments during the piece, but you must provide enough time for it in your score.)

1 electric guitar
1 bass guitar (4 strings)
1 harp



14 first violins
12 second violins
10 violas
8 celli
6 double basses (5 strings)

Which percussion instruments are available?
  • 4 timpani 32", 29", 26", 23" (1 player)
  • Orchestral percussion (4 players):
    Bass drum, snare drum, tom-toms, roto-toms, congas, bongos, timbales, darbuka
    Cymbals, gongs (including tamtams)
    Xylophone, vibraphone, glockenspiel, marimba, tubular bells, crotales, anvil
    Triangle, bar chimes, wind chimes, finger cymbals, cowbells, sleighbells, tambourine, guiro, castagnets, temple blocks, whip, wind machine, ratchet, wood block, claves, cabasa, thunder sheet, maracas, vibraslap
  • Drum set (1 player)

If you want to use other percussion instruments, please contact

(Waterphones and taikos are not available.)

Do I have to use all the instruments?

No. However, your composition is expected to remain in an orchestral context.


What is a conductor stave?

A conductor stave is an additional stave at the top of the score that contains information about timecodes, the click track, and the position of important hitpoints.


A typical conductor stave could for instance look like this:

Must there be a timecode at every bar?

This is not absolutely necessary. It is OK when there is a timecode at the important hitpoints and at the beginning of sections.

I work neither with Sibelius nor with Finale nor with MusicXML.

MusicXML is not a music notation program, but a standard file format for exchanging digital sheet music. Nowadays almost every notation program and DAW software can export data in the MusicXML format.

Why do participants who won’t submit Finale, Sibelius or MusicXML files have to submit the whole performing material?

The quality of the performing material is of paramount importance for a successful performance by an orchestra of this size. Therefore we can’t take the responsibility for nominating a composition where we are not absolutely sure that professional-quality performing material will be available until the end of July. If we get the score in Finale, Sibelius or MusicXML format, we can, if absolutely necessary, prepare or edit the performing material ourselves. (However, the nominee will be required to pay for the costs.) Since we can’t do so if we get the score in another format as Sibelius, Finale or MusicXML, we must make sure right away that the participant is able to deliver professional-quality performing material.

Should the submitted score be notated in sounding or in transposing pitch?

That’s up to you, but please indicate clearly whether the score is notated in sounding or in transposing pitch.

Which paper format shall I use for the score?

Since the submitted scores will be examined on screen, the paper format is not very important. However, A3 (portrait) is recommended, because the scores of the nominees will eventually be printed out in A3.

Audio Files

What is a mockup?

A mockup is a computer-produced audio file that gives an auditory impression of your score.

How realistic should the mockup sound?

The members of the jury are not only musicians, but also film directors. The musicians can read scores and imagine how your music will sound even if your mockup isn’t very realistic, and, of course, they will judge the quality of your music and not the quality of your mockup. The film directors, however, can’t read music; if your mockup doesn’t sound realistic, they might have difficulties imagining how your music will sound with a real orchestra. So make your mockup as good as possible, as if you submitted your work to a film director.

May I upload my mockup as uncompressed audio (WAV oder AIFF)?

You have to upload your mockup as an MP3 file. If you are concerned about audio quality, make sure to set the bit rate to at least 256 kbit/s.

May I upload my mockup as a video file?

You have to upload your mockup as an MP3 file. Your audio file will be recombined with the film before it is forwarded to the jury. (In order to make sure that your audio will be in sync with the film, please read the next FAQ.)

Which time of the film should the submitted audio files be synchronised to?

The beginning of ALL the audio files (mockup, click track and optional “electronic” track) must coincide with the beginning of the QuickTime file you downloaded (timecode 00:59:54:00). So there can’t be any music during the first 6 seconds of the MP3 file with the mockup. (You don’t have to notate this silence in your score, though.)


You are welcome to include the 2-pop at timecode 00:59:58:00 in your audio files – although this is not absolutely necessary...

Which sounds should be bounced into which audio file?
  • Mockup: orchestral sounds + film sound effects. You are supposed to present your desired mix between your music and the sound effects of the QuickTime file you downloaded.
  • Clicktrack: ONLY THE CLICK, nothing else
  • Optional “electronic track: only the sounds that are not produced by the orchestra, nothing else


You are welcome to include the 2-pop at timecode 00:59:58:00 in your audio files – although this is not absolutely necessary...

Why do participants have to submit an additional audio file with a click track?

It is very important that the submitted score is performable and conductable, i. e. that it doesn’t contain a lot of abrupt tempo changes. (Ritardandi and accelerandi are unproblematic, though.) The audio file with a click track has to be submitted because it makes it a lot easier for the jury to assess whether a score is conductable or not.


Hint: If you bounce the click track without any reverb, you can dramatically reduce its file size by using ZIP compression.

Composing Issues

Does the submitted music have to be composed in a specific style?

No. As long as your piece can be performed with the provided instrumentation (regulations, paragraph 3.1), you can compose in any style.

Which kind of sounds are meant to be included in the “electronic” track or produced by the live electronics?

It is not recommended to use the “electronic” track or the live electronics for simulating acoustic instruments that are not available in the instrumentation. It could indeed sound strange if an additional acoustic instrument comes from the loudspeakers, whereas the rest of the orchestra will be purely acoustic, “unplugged”. But if that’s precisely the effect you want to achieve, you are welcome to do so.


Apart from that, there are no restrictions. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact

Which parts of the film should be scored?

It’s entirely up to you which parts of the film will be scored and which parts will be left without music. You are welcome to score the opening and ending credits, too. Most participants grab the opportunity to make big musical statements during the credits.

Is it possible to start the music before the beginning of the film or to extend it beyond the end of the film?

The music must not begin before the start of the film (timecode 1:00:00:00), but it may be extended a few seconds after the end of the film.

Registration, Payment and Upload Area

Where can I download the application form?

The online application form cannot be downloaded; it is the form that you complete during registration.

Do I have to upload the competition documents immediately after registration?

No. As soon as you have registered and paid the competition fee, you will be assigned an upload account. Then you can log in at any time, even shortly before the deadline, and upload your documents.

Are there other payment options than PayPal?

Direct money transfers would cause too high administrative costs for the competition organisers. Therefore we accept other payment options only for countries where PayPal is not supported (i.e. countries that are not on this list). If you live in one of these countries, please contact


Opening a PayPal account is free of charge, and you can use PayPal even if you don’t have any credit card. It’s also possible to pay via a PayPal account of another person.


Especially if you don’t have a credit card, you are strongly advised to arrange for the payment well in advance and not to wait until shortly before the deadline.

I can’t log in.

Please make sure that you are using THIS website (hit “LOGIN” at the upper right-hand corner of this window). Logging in at, the website of Zurich Film Festival that looks very similar, doesn’t work. The website is intended for visitors and guests of the Zurich Film Festival, and its user database is completely different from the user database of


If you forgot your password, there is a possibility to reset it. If you don’t get the email message for resetting the password (it is often caught by spam filters), please contact

Which names shall I choose for the files to be uploaded?

It doesn’t matter, since the filenames are automatically renamed during the anonymisation process.

Help! Uploading takes forever!

DON’T PANIC! Please bear in mind that many internet service providers have very slow upload speeds.


Please make sure that none of your files is larger than 15 MB. Don’t upload uncompressed audio files (.wav, .aiff etc.)!


Experience has shown that almost all upload problems can be resolved by uploading the files one at a time.


If the problems still persist, will help you out.


When exactly is the deadline?

The deadline is on the same moment of time in the whole world. But the local time is different according to your time zone.


Pacific Daylight Saving Time: Friday 1 June 2018, 11:59 p.m.

Eastern Daylight Saving Time: Saturday 2 June 2018, 02:59 a.m.

Central European Summer Time: Saturday 2 June 2018, 08:59 a.m.

Korea & Japan Standard Time: Saturday 2 June 2018, 03:59 p.m.


If your time zone is not on this list, please have a look at this website.

Can the deadline be extended? Is it possible to submit some of the documents after the deadline?

No. This wouldn’t be fair towards the other participants.


Who will be in the jury?

We strive for putting together a jury with five members: three musicians and two film makers. For this, Forum Filmmusik, Zurich Film Festival and Tonhalle Zurich are in talks with internationally renowned figures from the music and film industry. For the time being, however, we can’t give any definite information about the members of the jury.

Will the jury give a feedback for the composition I submitted?

As in almost all composition competitions, the jury cannot give a feedback for your work because of the great number of participants. If you want a feedback for your work, you are advised to attend film music courses or masterclasses.


May I publish the film HAPPINESS with my music in the internet?

Unfortunately not. Apart from the concert on 4 October 2018, it is forbidden to exhibit the film in public or to pass it on to third parties. This explicitily includes all forms of electronic or online media.


But of course you retain all the copyrights to the music you submit. If it turns out on 6 July 2018 that you are not among the nominees, you are completely free to publish and perform your music everywhere – without the film. If you are nominated, you’ll have to wait until the world premiere of your music on 4 October 2018...

What is “Tonhalle Maag”?

The Tonhalle premises must be refurbished for three years, starting summer 2017. For this reason, the concert hall “MAAG EventHall” has been converted into a classical concert hall and will serve as the provisional concert venue for the Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich during three concert seasons. Details here (in German).

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