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Film (movie) music

07 Aug 11 - 08:02 PM (#3203600)
Subject: Film (movie) music
From: Songwronger

Have You Checked The DigiTrad or Forum for This Topic First?

Yes. I found a thread about John Ford's movie music, which was fascinating, but that's not what I wanted to comment on.

Some filmmaker said in an interview once that a movie is 40% music. I can't recall who it was, but he was one of Hollywood's bigwigs from way back. I don't know how he calculated the 40% figure either, but he did, and he also said that music is often used to engage the viewer in what would otherwise be pretty dull action.

I think he was on to something with that. I've seen some real tripe, scenes going nowhere and taking their time to get there, but then the "romantic" music or the "suspenseful" music starts and that draws me back into the story.

TV seems to really abuse the practice. I remember watching a show some time ago where the "good guys" were torturing, and during a break from their atrocity they had a romantic moment. I was disgusted by the torture and hated the characters just then, but along came the syrupy music and I felt that lump in my throat. Real manipulation.

Have any of you felt similarly manipulated? I know music is used to pick up the pace in action movies, and to elicit feelings in drama, and I've even heard it trying to punch up some pretty unfunny comedies.

Just thought I'd ask.

'ave a good one.

08 Aug 11 - 06:56 PM (#3204217)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: michaelr

It's a common device in movies. The idea is to do it subtly enough that the viewer does not notice being manipulated.

I noticed it just last night as my wife and I were watching "Letters to Juliet", a so-so film with the wonderful Vanessa Redgrave and the not-so-wonderful Amanda Seyfried. The music score really leaned on the tear ducts, at times annoyingly so.

For a brilliant example of scoring to support a film, see Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon".

08 Aug 11 - 09:58 PM (#3204319)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: Songwronger

Yes, Barry Lyndon, by all means. Love that Schubert and the Chieftains and all.

Read a thing about comic music earlier, said solo tuba in a movie almost always announces comedy. It's hard for the mind to associate the tuba with drama. Fellini's 8 1/2 makes good use of the tuba.

09 Aug 11 - 06:07 AM (#3204466)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: Max Johnson

Barry Lyndon is also my favourite soundtrack.

For 'appropriateness', check out Fiona Apple's version of 'Across The Universe', used at the end of the movie 'Pleasantville'

09 Aug 11 - 07:30 AM (#3204502)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: A Wandering Minstrel

There appears to be a particular minor key that invokes sadness that a lot of film score composers use. If I find myself suddenly choking up at a movie that's otherwise banal a manipulative music background is often the reason

09 Aug 11 - 10:13 PM (#3205052)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: Joe Offer

Modern "classical" composers often go places I don't want to go, but I think that movie soundtracks are some of our best symphonic music nowadays. My favorites are Elmer Bernstein's To Kill a Mockingbird and Maurice Jarre's Lawrence of Arabia. I think I have to admit that I like anything that comes from John Williams, despite the fact that he must make a whole hell of a lot of money.

Yeah, I suppose it may sometimes pluck my heartstrings in a cheap, tawdry way - but I still love movie music.


09 Aug 11 - 10:29 PM (#3205060)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: GUEST,999

Hans Zimmer's music to the movie "Backdraft" was the best part of the flick s'far's I'm concerned.

10 Aug 11 - 12:52 PM (#3205446)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

Both Jimmy Page ('Led Zeppelin'), and George Martin('Beatles') had roots in movie scores. I, myself, think some scores are among some of the most beautiful, and/or stirring music of this past century! There are a list of GREAT composers, whose pieces rival any of the classics!
Some to note: (run a search on any one of these!)John Barry, Alfred Newman, James Horner, Miklos Rosza, Elmer Bernstein, Leonard Bernstein, John Williams, Klaus Badelt, Hans Zimmer, Alan Silvestri, Maurice Jarre, Ernest Gold, Percy Faith, Dave Grusin, Henri Mancini, Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin, Franz Waxman, Dimitri Tiomkin. Alan Menken, Alex North, Andre Previn, Jack Nitzsche, Mark Isham, Who was on a billing with me once,.....and more.....OH! and, of course, Me!
Wonderful music!


10 Aug 11 - 12:56 PM (#3205451)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: Wesley S

One thing I enjoyed about "No Country For Old Men" was the absence of music during key scenes. When the killer is stalking his prey in the hotel you could hear a pin drop. It added a lot and I didn't feel I was being told what to think. The story actually provided the excitment. Not the composer.

10 Aug 11 - 01:17 PM (#3205474)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: MGM·Lion

I don't think Elmer Bernstein's theme for The Magnificent Seven has ever been surpassed.


10 Aug 11 - 01:53 PM (#3205504)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

M the MG, I saw Elmer Bernstein conduct the L.A. Philharmonic, during the show, 'Night of the Composers', at the Hollywood Bowl, in the early 60's, where the show featured many different composers, conducting and performing their pieces. The power of that piece, 'Magnificent Seven' was one of the first times, that I FELT, in an outdoor venue, music 'push the air' truly was magnificent!!!!!! The ground shook!..and you could FEEL the music, as well as hear it!!! Ernest Gold was there, and conducted 'Exodus', and it did the same!! Truly an unforgettable night!!!!!!!!
I can experience it, to this day!!


10 Aug 11 - 02:12 PM (#3205518)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: MGM·Lion

GfS ~~ Many thanks for sharing that memory with me.


10 Aug 11 - 02:40 PM (#3205532)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

God Bless You, M the GM!!!!

Warmest Regards,


10 Aug 11 - 03:14 PM (#3205567)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: Edthefolkie

We were very lucky to see Buster Keaton's "The General" with full orchestra and Carl Davis conducting his own score. It was brilliant and really added a lot to the film.

The only slight problem was that Davis wore a jacket which must have been acquired from a production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", and this nightmare garment was only too visible although the house lights were down!

10 Aug 11 - 03:23 PM (#3205571)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: Edthefolkie

Sorry, must just mention Miklos Rosza's music for "Ben-Hur". I know it's slightly cheesy in places, and he must have employed MANY arrangers, but I was absolutely wowed by it on the film's first run in 1959, and I still am. Positively operatic. Try the bit where Ben-Hur returns to Judea and meets Balthazar, one of the Three Wise Men. Rosza manages to get three main themes in within about three minutes, totally seamlessly.

10 Aug 11 - 04:00 PM (#3205594)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

Edthefolkie, In the 'Night of the Composers' concert, mentioned earlier, Miklos Rozsa was also there. Another brilliant performance!!


10 Aug 11 - 06:51 PM (#3205680)
Subject: RE: Film (movie) music
From: Songwronger

Of the older guys, I always like Waxman, Steiner and Bernard Herrmann's soundtracks. Howard Shore's probably my favorite living composer of film music (Cronenbergs' movies, lots of others).

Just looked up a song from a movie called A Perfect World. Starred Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood, Laura Dern.

BIG FRAN'S BABY Playing Time: 2:27


"This rendition is quite eerie and sounds as if it was recorded 50
years ago, yet it was composed in 1993 by Eastwood for this film."

The song's used in a scene where the Costner character breaks into the house of an older couple and plays a 78 rpm record on a gramophone. A Cajun tune (a waltz, if memory serves). Costner's character dances with the woman of the house while the song plays, and he's so crazy that you wonder if he's going to kill her when it ends. The song goes from sounding wistful to ominous.

That piece may have been woven into the film's orchestration, but I can't recall. Very effective use of music though.