Practicing Small Emotions
A good exercise to gain a big vocabulary for film scoring is to practice “small emotions”. It is quite easy to go for the full sad or the super happy scoring but trying to write something that is “a little bit melancholic” or “slightly relieved” is way more challenging.
Try imagining a scene in your head where there is only a hint of an emotional colour and try to score that appropriately without going over board. It becomes even trickier if you decide to practice multiple and possibly conflicting emotions. A classic example to imagine would be a character just learning that he/she is surprisingly becoming a parent. Trying to capture the possible happiness, confusion, surprise, anxiety, confusion in one cue is one of the toughest things to do.
An excellent example of conflicting emotions is this scene from JURASSIC PARK, scored by John Williams (click here for the score cue alone in slightly better audio quality). We have the magic of birth and fascinations of these creatures coming to life on the one side but at the same time the realization that those animals will become killers and are supposed to be the most dangerous species in Jurassic Park. The score cue fantastically captures both emotions and just from the film scoring aspect, it is fascinating to follow when which emotion takes the upper hand.