Temp tracks are the music that directors or editor put into a film on a temporary basis to help convey the sense of what the final music will be. Temp tracks can be very helpful at times as music is the most abstract of arts. We can talk all we want but sometimes it’s just easier to say listen to this. We want it to sound similar to this.
At other times, this can be very frustrating as directors or producers often get “temp love.” This is when they fall in love with the temp track so much, nothing else can live up to it.
In my own experience, I’ve found temp tracks to be quite useful as indicators of texture, palette, size, and shape. For directors who don’t do well on my 20 questions exercise, sometimes there’s no way around them.