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Music in a Screenplay


How do you tell the reader that a certain song is playing in a screenplay?

And do you write out the lyrics that are to be played?


Music really shouldn’t be written into the script unless its completely neccessary, for example if its relevent to moving the story along, or if its music that the characters are aware of.


I’m always told not to use specific songs in my scripts but I tend to do it

anyway. Here’s an example of how I do it.

Mark drives down the street with a cigar in his mouth as “Glory of Love” by

Ottis Redding plays on the car’s stereo.

But like I said it’s considered a “no-no” if you’re working on a spec script.


When I write, I usually have music playing that guides the story. And wish they would use it in the soundtrack. BIG WISH. But if the song has some significate meaning to the song, I can see it in there. But I agree normally it’s a big no, no.

Although one of my scripts has a song that has a song in it. Hmmm.


Only if the characters can hear it, and only if it has at least some significance to the plot at hand. As for formatting, just put it in the Action and follow DexPac’s example.


If you’re directing the screenplay I guess you could basically do anything you want song wise.




Most of my (IMO) good ideas go along with music. I keep trying to hammer away at scripts, but have a problem finishing. I’ve been told “don’t put music in a script” and sometimes I hold back sometimes I don’t. Anyway for the rewrite on my current script, I am writing in the song title and artist in bold lettering for myown personal reference. When (god help me) I finish it, then I’ll probably figure out what songs if any I want to keep in the actual script.

Also I try to use unknown songs if possible. Not sure, but I think it might be alot cheaper down the road if I ever have any say in how the movie comes out.


I’ve got one song in my screenplay. It drifts out of a diner as the lead character holds her victim on the hood of a car with a knife to his throat. It’s Vincent by Don McClean. “And how you suffered for your sanity” etc. Someone opens the door and it drifts out.

Tense scene. I guess something like that is ok. Music I guess is ok. As long as you don’t end up with a music video.