Tonhalle Zurich
5 October 2024


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 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: 17 May 2024) as (main) composer or (main) orchestrator in films with a duration of more than 60 minutes. Entries as “composer (additional music)” will not be taken into account.


All film genres (fiction, documentary, animation, TV series…) will be taken into account. In serials, every episode is considered as one separate film.


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 5 October 2024.


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


3 flutes (one player can also play piccolo, and one 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.



1 saxophone player (alto or tenor)
The player can switch instruments during the piece, but you must provide enough time for it in your score.

4 french horns
3 trumpets (in B flat or in C)
3 trombones (2 tenor trombones and 1 bass trombone)
1 tuba


timp, 3 perc

1 player for 4 timpani
3 players for orchestral percussion – full list in the next FAQ


pno or cel

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



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 (3 players):
    Bass drum, snare drum, tom-toms, congas, bongos, timbales, rototoms, darbukas, drum set;
    cymbals, tamtam, crotales, anvil;
    xylophone, vibraphone, glockenspiel, marimba, tubular bells;
    triangle, bar chimes, wind chimes, sleigh bells, finger cymbals, cowbells, tambourine, guiro, castagnets, temple blocks,  ratchet, wood block, claves, cabasa, maracas, whip, wind machine, thunder sheet, rainstick, ocean drum, vibra slap; 
    various whistles 

If you want to use other percussion instruments, please contact

(Taikos, gamelan gongs, steel drums, and gong bass drums are not available.)

Do I have to use all the instruments?

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


How about submitting just the audio files right now and submitting the score only when I am nominated?

This is not possible. Right after the deadline the scores must be examined in order to assess whether the submitted compositions are performable by a symphony orchestra. Compositions that are not performable cannot be nominated.

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:


In a notation program one normally uses a percussion stave with one line.

How shall I proceed if I have several separate cues?

It is recommended to make a separate score for each cue; this is much better than a single score with lots of empty bars.


Since the upload area only accepts one file for each document type, you should combine the scores into one single PDF file. The Finale/Sibelius/Dorico/MusicXML files can be combined into one single ZIP archive.


As for the click track: clicks are only needed when there is music. The music pauses don't need a click.

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 Finale nor with Sibelius nor with Dorico nor with MusicXML.

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

Does the submitted Finale/Sibelius/Dorico/MusicXML file have to be synchronised with the film?

This is not absolutely necessary. Only the PDF version of the score will be forwarded to the jury. The Finale/Sibelius/Dorico/MusicXML file will not be forwarded to the jury, it would only serve as a backup if a nominee failed to submit the performing material.

Do I have to submit separate parts for the instrumentalists?

If you submit your score as a PDF file and as a Finale/Sibelius/Dorico/MusicXML file, you don’t have to submit parts. Parts will only be requested from those who are nominated.


If you can’t submit a Finale/Sibelius/Dorico/MusicXML file, you have to submit parts right away.

Why do participants who won’t submit Finale, Sibelius, Dorico 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 in the beginning of August. If we get the score in Finale, Sibelius, Dorico 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 Finale, Sibelius, Dorico 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.

May I put my real name on the score?

No, please put only your codename in the score, otherwise your submission is not anonymised.

I forgot my codename.

If you log in, you will find your codename in the upper right-hand corner.

Audio Files

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 + audio from the film (sound effects and dialogues). You are supposed to present your desired mix between the orchestral sounds and the audio 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...

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 FAQ below.)

What is a click track? How can I produce a click track?

A click track is an audio file with a click on every beat. The conductor is hearing this clicktrack in an in-ear headphone, in order to ensure that the music is properly synchronised with the film.


Before the beginning of the music, the click starts with a count-in for the conductor (normally one or more bars).


Some notation programs or sequencers can directly produce clicktracks. If not, you can produce it with a percussion sound. 

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.

What is the purpose of the beep at timecode 00:59:58:00?

This beep is a so-called 2-pop, and it has only one purpose: to make absolutely sure that the audio file is properly synchronised with the film. It has no musical purpose whatsoever.


You are welcome to include this 2-pop in the audio files you submit, although this is not absolutely necessary.

Composing Issues

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

As long as your piece can be performed with the provided instrumentation (regulations, paragraph 3.1), you can compose in any style. But please keep in mind that most musicians of the Tonhalle orchestra are mainly familiar with classical music.

Which kind of sounds are meant to be included in the “electronic” track?

It is not recommended to use the “electronic” track 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

Do you expect the entire film to be scored wall-to-wall?

It’s entirely up to you which parts of the film will be scored and which parts will be left without music. For instance, it would be absolutely OK not to underscore the dialogues. (There is a FAQ under “Score” about how to proceed if you have several separate cues.)


You are welcome to score the opening and ending credits. Most participants grab the opportunity to make big musical statements during the credits.

When can the music start? When does it have to stop?

The music must not start before the beginning of the film (timecode 1:00:00:00). It may start on or after the beginning of the film (timecode 1:00:00:00).


Before the beginning of the music, the click starts with a count-in for the conductor (normally one or more bars). So the click may start before timecode 1:00:00:00.


The music may extend 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 in your browser during registration. Registration will be possible starting 18 March 2024.

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 uploaded files 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 20 MB. Don’t upload uncompressed audio files (.wav, .aiff etc.)!


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 17 May 2024, 02:59 p.m.

Eastern Daylight Saving Time: Friday 17 May 2024, 05:59 p.m.

Central European Summer Time: Friday 17 May 2024, 11:59 p.m.

Korea & Japan Standard Time: Saturday 18 May 2024, 06:59 a.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 competition film with my music in the internet?

The rights holders of the competition film have granted the permission to all participants to use the film together with their scores for their portfolio or homepage. The film must be labeled “THE FLYING SAILOR without original soundtrack / New soundtrack composed for the 12th International Film Music Competition.”


The nominees are only allowed to publish their music after the premiere on 5 October; the other participants may publish their music right after the decision of the jury. Therefore all the participants must wait until the decision of the jury.


If you have questions about publishing competition films of previous years, please contact for further information.

Do I keep my author’s rights on the music I submit?

Yes. If you get nominated, you only grant the exclusive performance rights to Zurich Film Festival, and this only for a limited time. After this time period, or if turns out that you are not nominated, there are no restrictions for publishing it without the film. Publishing your music together with the film is possible under certain restrictions, see the FAQ above. 


Your music will be archived by Forum Filmmusik. If you are not nominated, it will only be accessible to the committee members of Forum Filmmusik and will neither be published nor forwarded to third parties.

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