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What is the point of film scores anyway?


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Film scores... the very foundation of why this website exists. But what are they and why do movies have them? Why do they even need them? People don't even notice them anyway, and when someone does a YouTube video demonstrating a scene that featured a very prominent piece of music, now silent with only dialogue and sound effects, people commenting say how much better and realistic they think it is. So are they even necessary?

 

As I said in the other thread, it's not like we hear film score music in real life to accompany our most dramatic moments, so why do they need them in movies? Do they promote a falsehood? Have we outgrown them?

 

Should Hollywood and other producers rethink the "film score" and instead make movies that reflect a more modern and sophisticated outlook where music is no longer required?

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Historically, there has always been a connection between drama and music, from way back when stone age people played drums to campfire stories, all the way through ballets and operas and what-have-you

I once read or heard that film music is there to remind us that what we are seeing is just make-believe and it's precisely because of this awareness that we find it more pleasurable, even comfortable.

I've often thought film scores are paradoxical; they're unnoticed when they're there, missed when they're absent. It's strange to think about some dramatic scene, something realistic or ordinary and then you hear an orchestra playing in the background, but we just accept it as a part of what makes film... work?

 

Perhaps that's why film scores have become more minimalistic to match the realism films are trying to go for until in the future there's no musical accompaniment whatsoever which sounds depressing, but to the tastes of future generations will sound normal.

 

 

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9 hours ago, PuhgreÞiviÞm said:

Should Hollywood and other producers rethink the "film score" and instead make movies that reflect a more modern and sophisticated outlook where music is no longer required?

 

Honestly, I think they should think about taking an hiatus from making movies full stop. All the good stories have already been told. Everything nowadays is a reboot, prequel, nostalgia trip, spin off or reimagining of something better.

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15 minutes ago, Naïve Old Fart said:

@PuhgreÞiviÞm

Jerry, please tell me what's "modern and sophisticated", about films, these days.

 

More realistic and relatable. But there's nothing realistic about music following people everywhere, and sophisticated young people can't relate to music being so omnipresent.

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I have given up on film music and have little more than a passing interest in it. Modern video games are what most reliably feed my musical soundtrack interest these days; it seems to me that medium is where much of the young or burgeoning talent is working these days. 

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I think it very much depends on the scene and how it's shot. Some scenes work great without music, but some won't work at all.

 

Music can enhance the scene quite a bit, sometimes conveying information not readily apparent (or even visible) in the picture. For example, in suspenseful scenes the soundtrack can convey fear way before something scary actually appears on screen. It's an additional tool for the filmmaker to play with our emotions, to build anticipation, add suspense, etc.

 

As a case study, watch The Map Room cue from Raiders, with and without music. If that scene was shot with different pacing, less (or no) music might work, but clearly not as well.

 

Or better yet, watch the Westwood competition clip with Yakety Sax. It's amazing how fast these cars move! :mrgreen:

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6 hours ago, Quintus said:

I have given up on film music and have little more than a passing interest in it. Modern video games are what most reliably feed my musical soundtrack interest these days; it seems to me that medium is where much of the young or burgeoning talent is working these days. 

I've gone through a similar thing with modern film scores - I'll go back to the classics but my main interest now has been anime and game music which has been far more inventive than the stolid rut film scores have themselves in.

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On 6/17/2020 at 5:07 AM, Thor said:

Historically, there has always been a connection between drama and music, from way back when stone age people played drums to campfire stories, all the way through ballets and operas and what-have-you. But interestingly, film wasn't really drama at first. It was more an 'attraction' (Tom Gunning even calls it 'cinema-of-attractions') with a documentary slant - at least in the years between Lumière and Meliés. The application of music wasn't a given. As such, there are a number of theories as to why music was first applied to films.

 

One practical theory has to do with the projection apparatus itself - placed among the audience and emitting so much noise that you needed some form of musical accompaniment to 'drown it out'.

 

Another more philosophical theory has to do with the 'trauma' of seeing big, live images that weren't 'real', requiring some form of music to assure the audience of its illusion.

 

But eventually, it became a natural extension of the storytelling, both in the silent era and beyond - as one of the strongest rhetorical forces in the filmic expression.

 

I realize this is probably not what you asked for, which is more about 'contemporary trends' and such, but I just ran with the historical context a bit.

 

Great post, I had never considered some of these factors!

@Doug Adams will Impossible Silence cover this? :)

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