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The Purpose of Music in Film Film Music Is a Type of Descriptive Music

The Purpose of Music in Film Film Music Is a Type of Descriptive Music


Film Music is a type of Descriptive Music that represents a mood, story, scene or character through music; it is The Purpose of Music in designed to support the action and emotions of the film on screen. To create or enhance a mood To function as a To emphasise a gesture To provide unexpected juxtaposition/irony Frequent effects used by Film Music A frequently recurring short melodic or This is known as MICKEY-MOUSING and is Using music which the listener/viewer composers to create or enhance a mood harmonic idea which is associated with a used especially in animated , cartoons wouldn’t normally expect to hear creating a include: character, event, concept, idea, object or and comedy films and is where the music sense of uneasiness,  A repeated OSTINATO pattern situation which be used directly or indirectly mimics every small movement reinforcing or comparison or even  Sustained notes of LONG DURATION to remind us of one not actually present on illustrating the action e.g. sliding humour e.g.  TREMOLO strings screen. Leitmotifs can be changed as characters journey and down in a lift, a Tchaikovsky’s “Swan  A CRESCENDO with the DYNAMICS gradually getting louder (sequencing, repetition, modulation) giving a descending chromatic scale as a character Lake” is heard in the  Increasing TEMPO (Accelerando) hint as to what goes down a set of ‘’ (1931) film.  getting higher will happen later stairs. Timing is To influence the pacing of a scene making it  The use of SILENCE before something in the film or may crucial when using appear faster/slower/more comprehensive dramatic (to make you jump!)  Unusual harmonies such as the use of minor be heard in the Mickey-Mousing and Film Music composers often use fast, and DISSONANT or CHROMATIC CHORDS, background Film Music composers dramatic music in action sequences to “drive DISCHORDS and DIMINISHED CHORDS giving a “subtle often use CLICK the action and pace forward”. In love or  IRREGULAR TIME SIGNATURES (5/4, 7/8) hint” to the TRACKS to help them romantic scenes, a slow, sweeping theme on  Rapid Scale Patterns help create a frantic viewer/listener. time their music mood and a feeling of unrest and urgency the Strings can be used to “slow the pace  INTERRUPTED CADENCES create a sense of exactly. down”. tension and suspense To link one scene to another and smooth To illustrate geographic location or  th To give added commercial impetus The use of the TRITONE (Augmented 4 ) over visual cuts, providing continuity historical period  The use of low pitch brass and strings to provide a “dark sound” Repeated sections of music can be used to The independent commercial ‘afterlife’ of Westerns often use music “from the time” to  The use of percussive metallic sounds link different parts of the film together – it the has become an increasingly set the scene using ‘traditional’ instruments.  The use of SUSPENSIONS that don’t resolve can remind you of something that happened important aspect of Film Music. “Hit” songs Films set in a different country often to build tension and make you think danger earlier in the film. The style of music can will help sell the film and are often used in combine traditional instruments “associated is near  Frequent changes in DYNAMICS to hint an also change within a film with different the opening or . Songs may be with a particular country” in their imminent danger sections of the film having different moods – used as title tracks but can return ‘in the soundtracks to help the audience imagine  The use of electronic sounds and love, humour, battle/war. Film scores may background’ of the film soundtrack later. All the film’s setting and give a sense of “place” synthesisers be MONOTHEMATIC where the entire film of the James Bond films feature ‘big songs’ e.g. the Sitar can help “place a film” in India  The use of SAMPLED SOUNDS score is based upon a single melody e.g. often released as popular music singles or the Bagpipes help “place a film” in  The use of effects such as REVERB or DISTORTION applied to electronic, ’s “Laura” (1944) which is heard independently to help advertise the film and Scotland. Films set in a particular historical synthesised or sampled sounds to change so often and in many different add period e.g. the 1970’s or 1980’s, may use and manipulate the sound circumstances, that it comes to “haunt the commercial pop songs from the time to set the scene  The use of unusual (often electronic) listener”. impetus. with the audience recognising the songs and instruments e.g. Rósza’s use of the Theremin in his soundtrack to Alfred Hitchcock’s reminding them of that particular decade. thriller ‘Spellbound’ (1945)


GCSE MUSIC – F I L M M U S I C K NOWLEDGE ORGANISER Music Early Film Soundtracks Film Music in the 1930’s and 40’s Film Music in the 1950’s and 60’s Film Music Today Early films had no soundtrack Soundtracks first appeared at the In the 1950’s and 1960’s, film Film music today often blends popular, electronic and in a (“Silent Cinema”), so music had to end of the 1920’s and until the producers tried using flexible way that suits the needs of the particular film. Nevertheless, be provided live, usually Second World War, contemporary popular and classical Hollywood still creates superstar composers whose film music often takes hired Classical composers to write styles, including and IMPROVISED by a pianist or on a life of its own away from its original context, on CDs, downloads and huge Romantic-style film but from the organist. The first soundtracks soundtracks. 1970’s, there was a rise of post- in the hall. appeared in the 1920’s and used Romantic Film Music. existing music, particularly from operas and ballets (Wagner and Verdi) and libraries of “Mood Music” were formed. How Film Music is Produced Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Film Music Spotting Cue Sheets Click Tracks Music The Film Music composer attends a Cue Sheets are then produced An electronic metronome which A graphic organizer in the form of DIEGETIC FILM MUSIC – music ‘music-spotting’ session with the containing accurate timings (in facilitates the accurate illustrations or images displayed in within the film for both the Director and decides where music seconds and fractions of seconds) synchronisation of music to events sequence for the purpose of pre- characters and audience to hear of all dialogue and descriptions of exactly – used extensively in is to feature in the finished film. visualising a motion picture, e.g. a car radio, a band in a the action. creating music for animated films and cartoons. animation, motion graphic or video or sound effects such as game sequence. guns in the distance or screeching car breaks. Also known as SOURCE MUSIC or IN-VISION MUSIC. NON-DIEGETIC FILM MUSIC – music which is “put over the top” of the action to increase the effect of the film and for the audience’s benefit and which the characters within the film can’t hear e.g. music to accompany a car chase. Also known as UNDERSCORE or .


GCSE MUSIC – F I L M M U S I C K NOWLEDGE ORGANISER Musical Features of Film Music Pitch & Melody Articulation Dynamics Texture Harmony LEAPS (DISJUNCT MELODIC LEGATO or flowing for happier LOUDER for bolder or more THIN or SPARSE textures used for DIATONIC harmony for simpler situations MOVEMENT) and CHROMATICISM for situations – STACCATO or spiky for powerful (whether good or bad) – bleak or lonely situations. and good characters. weirdness and “baddies” – STEPWISE CHROMATIC harmony for more complex more challenging ones or to SOFTER for more timid/weak THICKER or FULLER textures used situations or bad characters. (CONJUNCT MELODIC MOVEMENT) represent ‘frozen’ or ‘brittle’. CRESCENDOS used for increasing for warmer, more “normal” CONSONANCE for normal situations or and DIATONIC melodies for happiness ACCENTS (>) for violence threat, triumph or proximity – situations and THICK, DENSE “good” characters. and “goodies”. SFORZANDOS (sfz/sf) for sudden DECRESCENDOS and orchestral sounds heard during DISSONANCE for scary situations or “evil” RISING MELODIES for increasing characters often using notes which are a tension or increasing triumph – emphasis and to create a ‘shock’. DIMINUENDOS used for subsiding battles and chases. semitone apart. FALLING MELODIES for decreasing PIZZICATO (strings) – plucking the things and things ‘going away into Complex POLYPHONIC textures for MAJOR for happier – MINOR for sadder. tension or hopelessness/defeat. strings to create short, detached the distance’. confused or very active situations. SEVENTH CHORDS (including the use of the th Westerns often feature a “BIG THEME” notes. soundtracks often use HOMOPHONIC MELODY AND flattened 7 ) often used to create harmonic richness, especially in Westerns. played on sweeping Strings. Q&A ARCO (strings) – using the bow to EXTREME DYNAMICS or SUDDEN ACCOMPANIMENT texture used Sudden changes of harmonies create phrases can represent “Good vs. Evil”. play. CHANGES IS DYNAMICS to for more straightforward or calm unexpected moods. ATONAL and BITONAL The interval of a FIFTH is often used in enhance sudden actions on-screen situations or for “love themes”. harmonies used to create ambiguous Sci-Fi film soundtracks as its “bare, and to “shock” the listener. atmospheres often in Sci-Fi or Supernatural open and sparse” sound quality Film soundtracks. matches that of “outer space”. Rhythm Metre Duration Leitmotifs, Themes & Motifs & Sonority FAST for chases and hectic 2/4 or 4/4 for Marches, 3/4 for LONG, held notes are often used in A frequently recurring short melodic or Traditional orchestral instruments often situations. SLOWER can mean Waltzes. Metre isn’t as important Westerns to show the vast open harmonic idea which is associated with a combined with electronic instruments. character, event, concept, idea, object or Orchestral instruments played in different more hesitant. IRREGULAR in Film Music as the importance is spaces of the North-American situation which be used directly or indirectly ways e.g. slashing the bow across the strings rhythms for threatening or unusual on the music directly matching and plains or to help describe the to remind us of one not actually present on of a violin situations and REGULAR rhythms enhancing the on-screen action vastness of open space in a Sci-Fi screen. Leitmotifs are often fragmented Sound Effects combines with traditional and for safety or more “normal” which sometimes doesn’t fall into film soundtrack. e.g. in Horror films to show the electronic instruments. deteriorating state of the hero or heroine as Brass Fanfares often used in Space Film situations. OSTINATO rhythms for the regular divisions of a time SHORT notes are often used to the film progresses. soundtracks and in films when there is a repeated sounds e.g. horse’s signature. “Big Themes” and songs describe “busy”, chaotic or hectic The SIGH MOTIF is often used – a short battle or warfare. hooves. SYNCOPATION and used within films are often in 4/4 situations e.g. a bustling crowd, a rising then falling melody in an arch shape. “Traditional” musical instruments ‘of the CROSS-RHYTHMS to create tension metre. IRREGULAR TIME chase scene or a battle. Animated films and cartoons use a range of time’ help place a film in a specific place or MUSICAL CLICHÉS – short motifs e.g. pedal time period. and unease. “Traditional” dance SIGNATURES often used to create PEDAL notes are long held notes in notes, ‘calamity motif’, cluster chords etc. Unusual instruments often used in Sci-Fi, rhythms e.g. American Square unease and tension with a lack of the bass line above changing which are used every time a character does Space or Horror films – Theremin, . Dance, Tango and Bolero often clear pulse. harmonies and melodies and can a certain action or ends up in a certain Instruments such as a the glockenspiel used used in soundtracks to Westerns. also create tension and suspense. situation. in Horror film soundtracks to create tension.



Video Game Music

Early Music How is used within Video Games Early video game music consisted primarily of SOUND Music within a video game is often used for CUES (knowing when a EFFECTS, (a style of music which used simple significant event was about to occur). melodies) and early sound SYNTHESISER technology. Video game music is often heard over a game’s title screen, options SAMPLING began in the 1980’s allowing sound to be played menu and bonus content as well as during the entire gameplay. during the game, making it more realistic and less Music can be used to increase tension and suspense e.g. during “synthetic-sounding”. battles and chases and can change, depending on a player’s actions or situation e.g. indicating missing actions or “pick-ups”. How Video Game Music is Produced Character Themes in Video Game Music Characters within a video game can also have their Fully-orchestrated video game music scores are now popular own THEMES – like LEITMOTIFS within Film Music. – technology is used in their creation but less in their These can be manipulated, altered and changed – performance. The composer uses music technology to create adapting the elements of music – , the score, it is then played by an orchestra and then digitally timbre, sonority, texture, pitch, dynamics – converted and integrated into the game. Video game depending on the character’s situation or different soundtracks have become popular and are now commercially places they travel to within the game. sold and performed in concert with some radio stations featuring entire shows dedicated to video game music. Famous Video Game Music Composers and their Soundtracks

Koji Kondo Mieko Ishikawa Super Mario Bros. (1985) The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) Dragon Slayer (1993) (1986) Medal of Honour (1999) Call of Duty (2003) Martin O'Donnell Jesper Kyd Tommy Tallarico and Michael Assassin’s Creed (2007) Assassin’s Creed (2007) Salvatori Halo (2002) P A G E 4 O F 5 ©WWW.MUSICALCONTEXTS .CO.UK


Film Music Composers and their Soundtracks Bernard Hermann The Lion King Titanic Vertigo Gladiator Apollo 13 Taxi Driver The Motion Harry Potter Pearl Harbour A Beautiful Mind Picture Indiana Jones Madagascar Braveheart The Omen Superman Dunkirk Star Trek II Alien E.T. Blade Runner 2049 Aliens Harry Robinson Twins of Evil The Good, The Bad The Magnificent The Big Country Halloween II and The Ugly Seven Halloween III Demons of the For a Few Dollars Mind More Season of the The Ghoul The Mission Witch Exorcist II

Carl Stalling Many “Looney James Bond Mission Tunes” and Films Impossible cartoon shorts. (adapted) Returns Spider-Man