What does the soundtrack do with experiencing a film? How does the whole of dialogue, music and sound ensure that the viewer is immersed into the film and sympathizes, even in a physical sense, with the characters and their emotions?

The book The Sound Track by Rens Machielse deals with the power of the soundtrack and focuses on its design for a feature film, commercial or documentary. It is written for anyone who wants to work with sound and music in these kinds of productions, primarily art students and young professionals. The book also serves as a reference book for those already working in the field of music and sound for media, and it is certainly also intended for (future) producers, directors and editors.

The text is based on the integration of theoretical knowledge and practical experience gained by the author as a lecturer, researcher and freelance composer for audiovisual media.

This book of the HKU Professorship Performative Processes is a publication of International Theatre & Film Books Publishers in collaboration with HKU Press. Available in (internet) bookshops from May 2020. ISBN-10: 9064038929, ISBN-13: 978-9064038921. Price: € 22,50.

On this website you will find additional information and updates regarding the book The Sound Track. In the near future, additions and explanations to the book text will be placed here.

the dipole model

Below you find the dipole model as described in the paragraph combinations: dipole model in chapter 1 (from page 57). As you click on the circle in one of the quadrants, you will hear a simple musical example illustrating that quadrant. In the near future, more musical examples will be added that also involve transitions from one quadrant to another.

Note: If you don't hear a sound when you click a button, your browser is probably blocking media playback and you need to authorize it: Safari> Site settings> Disable content blockers.

Click on the green circle, (stable & static) and you will hear music with a clearly recognizable and therefore also predictable structure (A - A - B - A) that has no further development, the music does not develop towards a climax or something like that.

Click on the yellow circle, (stable & dynamic) and you will hear music with a clearly recognizable and therefore also predictable structure that has a development due to increasing instrumentation.

Click on the orange circle, (unstable & static) and you will hear music with no clearly recognizable and predictable structure. There is a (sort of) basic sound with loose musical or auditory elements, there is no clear development, it goes nowhere.

Click on the red circle, (unstable & dynamic) and you will hear music with no clearly recognizable and predictable structure. There is a (sort of) basic sound with loose musical or auditory elements, but there is a development in pitch of the music track as a whole: it goes from high to low.


André Bellmont - Professor University of the Arts Zurich (Composition for Film, Theatre and Media / Music Department)

A holistic book on a holistic topic, the design of The Sound Track, written by a man whose unparalleled career is also based on holism. Rens Machielse’s mature “late work” is based on many years of experience and a wealth of experience in theory and practice, research and teaching.

Bob Zimmerman - composer/arranger

This is the book that I now know has been missing from my cabinet for decades; crystal clear in its layout and structure, andin plain language. And amazingly complete. A must for all professionals.

Tony Halliwell - composer

'The Sound Track' is thoroughly readable, packed full of gold-dust knowledge, and strengthened with a backbone of relevant, well-cited literature. After reading through this book for the first time, you will surface, hungry for more insights and cross-section views into the rather secretive industry of audio-visual productions (TV & Film)! Luckily, you can keep reading this book over and over again to satiate that hunger, absorbing more of Rens Machielse's thought-provoking nuance each time. Whether you want to work in TV, Film, sound design, composition, Foley artistry, or are just reading as a curious observer, this is a vital piece of reading.
Rens writes this book as if he is speaking to you face-to-face, one-to-one, in a cosy cafeteria somewhere in Utrecht. There is a personal touch to how his thoughts, ideas and knowledge are conveyed, making for far more streamlined reading than most literature on this topic.
I was fortunate enough to study under Rens' mentorship for a summer-school course at HKU, a creative arts university in Utrecht, Netherlands. After hearing about and getting my hands on his book, I firmly maintain a high regard for his mentoring patience, comprehensive knowledge and industry experience.
Thank you Mr. Machielse! 5 stars.

Wessel Oltheten - mix- and mastering engineer

The knowledge and expertise collected in this book is not only inspiring, but also directly applicable in practice. It is great that the book goes further than just the necessary techniques to make music and sound (there are more than enough books about that), but also deals with the purpose of the work: how to design music and sound to tell a story?

Yati Durant - composer, conductor and lecturer, director of International Media Music and Sound Arts Network in Education (IMMSANE)

Rens Machielse’s excellent book 'The Sound Track' achieves much more than just provide industry and comparative skills and analysis. It goes further to elaborate on a more wholistic method of the inside/out of this demanding and complex field of media music and sound creativity.
In a crowded field of film music and sound design books, Machielse’s book stands out as one that aims, above all, to illustrate the truths and pitfalls of working together. It is supremely impressive that each passage aims to speak to YOU, not in passive terms but to support the creative process in understandable ways, not unlike the way that Steven Hawking achieved in describing quantum physics to laymen, but with clear and concise process. It's even achieved this without becoming too dogmatic in terms of method and done carefully to avoid becoming quickly obsolete.
This book will undoubtedly become a seminal part of media music and sound teaching curricula and will be an invaluable reference to anyone, whether highly-experienced or not, as a point of creative and conceptual information which will inspire more thoughtful soundtrack design in the future.

Dimitri Arnauts - composer

As a composer of mainly concert music, who is now expanding into the world of film music - I can enthusiastically and without reservation recommend this book: for its ideal breakdown between theoretical insight and practical applications, for the wide range of themes discussed and for the global approach that covers all aspects of the interplay of story, image and sound, systematically explaining, clarifying and connecting - all this in a workflow-oriented progression and a comprehensive text structure. The book is totally up-to-date and contemporary, without nostalgia, but also grounded in proven best practices from all film schools.
It is a clear and very instructive manual for all players who work on the final product film, documentary or commercial - everyone can find particularly useful information and good practices in it, that clarifies their own role in the entire creation process - in relation to the other sound actors, and in real workflow context: as composer, sound editor, sound designer, foley artist, sound engineer, etc ... No creative role is over-praised or unfairly neglected: everyone's production is examined and valued for effectiveness and contribution to the strength of the final work: a compelling and penetrating audiovisual story.
Extra bonuses in this book: the open and original approach to the problem of 'being stuck' in front of a blank (or just too full) page / screen - and the very effective tips & tricks generously shared by the author, who has also teached a lot to students. Thus, these problem-solving methods are really working. Furthermore, important information about the various economic, financial aspects and players for the different types of productions: indispensable insight for, among others, starters, graduating young people, professionals, and teachers.
‘The Sound Track’ by professor & composer Rens Machielse, seems to me to be one of the rare books from this segment that is also quite a must for directors, producers, cameramen, set designers and even screenwriters: it gives them a wide but sharp overview of that other side of the narrative Parnassus: the side of the Sound, that often neglected dark side without which not a single light, not a single image, not a single turn of any story can convincingly reflect and shine in our emotions and in our memory as spectators.
My rating is a full 5/5 stars for this thorough, useful and necessary book: that it may have a well-deserved future as a reference work.


Here you will find all events concerning The Soundtrack, such as presentations, guest lectures, workshops and master classes by the author Rens Machielse.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Master class Music and Sound for Audiovisual Media. PXL Music / Hogeschool PXL, Hasselt (B).

Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Book presentation Dutch version De Sound Track - EYE Film Museum, Amsterdam (NL).

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Master class Composing Film Music for the Master The Sound of Innovation - ArtEZ (NL).

Wednesday April 22 to Saturday April 25, 2020
Book presentation English version The Sound Track - STC SoundTrack Cologne, Cologne (DE).  STC SoundTrack Cologne has been moved to August 19 - 22, 2020.

Tuesday, August 11 to Sunday, August 16, 2020
Workshop Composing Filmmusic - MediaSound Hamburg, Hamburg (DE).

Monday, August 17 to Friday, August 28, 2020
Workshop Composing Filmmusic for Beginners - Utrecht Summer School, Utrecht (NL).

Thursday 1 October to Saturday 3 October 2020
Keynote IMMSANE Congress - Zurich (Sw).

Wednesday June 9 to Saturday June 12, 2021
Book presentation The Sound Track - SoundTrack Cologne, Cologne (DE).

Tuesday, August 10 to Sunday, August 15, 2021
Workshop Composing Filmmusic - MediaSound Hamburg, Hamburg (DE).

Monday, August 16 to Friday, August 27, 2021
Workshop Composing Filmmusic for Beginners - Utrecht Summer School, Utrecht (NL).

additions and errata

Here you will find corrections of errors in the text, as well as interesting additions to the book.