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Musical backings to TV

McGrath of Harlow 09 May 12 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Stim 09 May 12 - 04:19 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 May 12 - 06:03 PM
Nick 09 May 12 - 07:54 PM
Roger the Skiffler 10 May 12 - 05:50 AM
GUEST,Stim 10 May 12 - 12:55 PM
Will Fly 10 May 12 - 01:14 PM
MGM·Lion 10 May 12 - 01:23 PM
SteveMansfield 10 May 12 - 01:46 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 May 12 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Stim 10 May 12 - 02:50 PM
MGM·Lion 10 May 12 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,Stim 10 May 12 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 11 May 12 - 07:33 AM
Wesley S 11 May 12 - 10:28 AM
MGM·Lion 11 May 12 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Stim 11 May 12 - 11:20 AM
Mo the caller 12 May 12 - 08:18 AM
Marje 12 May 12 - 12:45 PM
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Subject: Musical backings to TV
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 May 12 - 03:39 PM

Do other people share my loathing of the way so many TV programmes stick mood music backings to programmes? Not just drama, where it can be bad enough, but it's part of the narrative technique going back as far as Sillent Movies, but also programmes about real life.   "Be sad" "be happy" "be apprehensive" "this is going to end badly"

It seems to have become more and more prevalant in recent years - or maybe it's just that I've noticed it more.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 09 May 12 - 04:19 PM

It goes back much farther than that, Mr. McGrath. Melodrama, that fixture of the 19th Century stage, is a conflation of the words "Melody" and "Drama"-since the dramatic narrative was highlighted with bits of melody, in a manner that was simply copied in silent films. No coincidence that films, radio, and television all use it.

There was a time that a live orchestra was a standard feature of radio and television broadcasts--as tastes change, the music that is used has changed, and,in the US at least, where once classically trained composers wrote the music, now the composers are more likely rock musicians.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 May 12 - 06:03 PM

Prtobably goes further back than that for dramatic performances. Even aside from types of drama where the music is to teh fore, such as opera, ballet and musicals.

But when it comes to non-fiction I don't think it has a place. I don't like to have musical mood instructions. I imagine it won't be long before they'll do it in news programmes, if in fact they haven't already started doing it. Party political programmes (and ads in countries where those monstrosities are legal) already go in for this kind of thing.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: Nick
Date: 09 May 12 - 07:54 PM

That Shakespeare bloke who seems to be on the radio and tv a lot at the moment (has he a cd or something new out?) I think had some music in his plays here and there.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 10 May 12 - 05:50 AM

We particularly hate intrusive music in documentaries, last night't BBC4 interesting prog. about armour in Henry 8th's time, terible music (and too many presenters walking modern streets to talk to camera, or just walking- adds nothing to the programme).

RtS
Grumpy old git


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 10 May 12 - 12:55 PM

TV documentaries are the worst, because rather than simply informing and educating, they also have to fill out a time slot.

This means that on one hand, they try to keep your attention with "cliffhanger" narration, and on the other, they stretch things out with wildly inappropriate music playing over shots of historic buildings, picturesque landscapes, or of presenters and subjects walking purposefully to or from somewhere or other.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 May 12 - 01:14 PM

Stim, and others - you hit the nail on the head! Modern TV producers seem to have come from the same, by-the-yard source. No imagination, no originality, no sense of appropriateness.

Which is why TV comes a poor runner-up to playing music, playing with my grandchildren and playing the fool on Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 May 12 - 01:23 PM

The old cinema newsreels used to have sort of leitmotifs. If there was a report from Australia, you could bet your boots that Waltzing Matilda would be heard on the sound track; for France it would generally be La Marseillaise, &c. Not that all the tunes were identical in all the different n'reels: Pathé might differ from Movietone & Gaumont-British: but they were generally pretty predictable.

On the subject of this thread, as to tv documentary: a lot depends on the production values and the skills of the music editor. I agree they are sometimes a distraction in controversy-docs, where they might attempt tendentiously to influence one's reactions; but can provide atmosphere in some factual work-related &c docs, such as ones about fishing, say.

And what of those where it is the point of the exercise, like the Radio Ballads?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 10 May 12 - 01:46 PM

Well I find sport on TV really good to sit and watch whilst practising - somehow the snooker is far more interesting with concertina accompaniment ... I only do it when I'm the only one watching though, I hasten to add!


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 May 12 - 02:05 PM

The Radio Ballads did something very differrent - taking the words of the people talking about their lives, and turning them into song. What they didn't do, and what would have been dreadful, would have been to stick off-the-peg musical mood music as background to them when they were talking.

Now the idea of a musical accompaniment to sporting events instead of a commentary might be fun. It could even make me give the Olympics a chance, if it was well done.   Though I suppose there are always those shots of marathon runners with teh theme from The Trap, which rapidly palls.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 10 May 12 - 02:50 PM

Ironically Michael, the use of those leitmotifs in newsreels could be rather heavy handed.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 May 12 - 02:55 PM

Oh, indeed, Stim I thought I had made that point with my use of the word 'predictable', and the obviousness of the tunes always chosen ~~ oh, if only, just once, we might have got, say, "Click Go the Shears" or "Auprès de Ma Blonde"!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 10 May 12 - 05:23 PM

Sorry, Michael, I was just trying to be clever by juxtaposing Leitmotif and heavy-handled. At any rate, I grew up in a place where "Winter Sports" were a social and economic mainstay--Prokoviev's "Troika" underscored every clip of downhill skiing, and Saen-Saens "Dying Swan" every clip of a woman on the ice. Don't remember what they used for Hockey--


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 11 May 12 - 07:33 AM

I don't mind background music as such, although it can sometimes be a bit heavy-handed. I dislike it where it is so loud it obscures the dialogue (this also often happens with radio programmes, which is inexcusable).

I dislike it where it is incongruous or simply poorly thought-out. Last night I happened to be watching Timothy Spall sailing around Cornwall. The producer had apparently decided that something folky would be appropriate, but rather than something with nautical or local references the tunes they chose were either morris (what does 'Shepherd's Hey' have to do with boats?) or Irish (what do uillean pipes have to do with Cornwall?). The disconnection between the music and the programme jarred.

And why do they never credit the musicians?


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: Wesley S
Date: 11 May 12 - 10:28 AM

The directors and producers of these show just don't trust you to know what you should be feeling while you are watching. It's just like laugh tracks. How are you supposed to know that the jokes are funny unless you hear canned laughter?

If you ever get to see the movie "No Country For Old Men" you'll see a case where the almost total lack of music actually heightens the suspense.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 May 12 - 10:56 AM

Oh sorry, Stim. It was me that was slow ~~ leit/heavy: yay, get it now, chiz.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 11 May 12 - 11:20 AM

Howard Jones hits it right on the head. The music has to connect to what is being shown, if it chosen well, it can set a mood, establish time and place, if it doesn't, it can annoy and confuse.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: Mo the caller
Date: 12 May 12 - 08:18 AM

Now that it's a technical possibility it would be nice to have the option to adjust the volume on the backing track.
My old ears can't always cope with confusion.


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Subject: RE: Musical backings to TV
From: Marje
Date: 12 May 12 - 12:45 PM

I also agree with Howard above - when they do use folk/traditional music, there's a laziness and sloppiness about the choice of tracks, which really irritates those who know anything about the music.

In historical dramas and documentaries, they sometimes use dance tunes that weren't written until after the scenes portrayed, and instruments that were not available to at that time. Anything medieval or Tudor tends to feature Greensleeves on a recorder, and anything nautical, from any era,a "sailor's hornpipe". They use Highland bagpipes for general Scottishnes, but also uillean pipes for anywhere "celtic" or even a bit remote, including Scotland/Cornwall/Northumberland/Wales. Yorkshire is indicated by a brass band. A piano accordion playing a waltz is used not just for Parisian cafe scenes but also any region of France. If they want to evoke Englishness, they'll use George Butterworth's or RVW's arrangements and variations on English melodies, but not the neat, undiluted traditional source tunes.

There are so many wonderful and appropriate recordings they could use, it's a sad loss. It's no wonder people have so little idea of our musical heritage.

Marje


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