Film Scores - The Magic of Music
They say in the film industry that “in a film, the dialogue and action tell us what the characters are thinking and doing, but the music can tell us what they are feeling”.
At this time of year, all anyone can seem to talk about (except politics…) is Halloween – pumpkins, parties, and of course, scary films. Opinions differ here at Music for my Mind, but I myself have no shame in admitting that when it comes to horror films, I’m more than a bit of a wimp! When I’m not behind the sofa, I’m jumping at every sudden noise, wriggling in my seat at every build-up of suspense, and lying in my bed afterwards with the lights firmly turned on!
One thing, however, that does console me is something my music teacher showed me at school. He first showed our class a 30 second clip of a horror film (Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 masterpiece, Psycho) with the sound on. We all cowered at our desks (or at least I did). And then he showed us the same clip without sound, and the most surprising thing happened. All suspense, all surprise, all horror went. It was actually just quite mundane scene in a hotel corridor, then a shower curtain, then a woman opening her mouth, and then some very comical blood effects (which looked suspiciously like ketchup!).
He explained to us that it wasn’t the lack of footsteps, or even the lack of a scream that tore the fear out of the scene, but rather the lack of music. Music can play with our expectations and emotions so incredibly, that without it, things become very dull edged indeed. There are multiple scientific studies confirming this fact, and there is even a saying in the film industry that “in a film, the dialogue and action tell us what the characters are thinking and doing, but the music can tell us what they are feeling”. Many soundtracks have ‘themes’ too, where characters have music specifically written for them, announcing to our subconscious their imminent arrival on stage, and even by changing the key of the music, adapting the character’s emotions. And sometimes film composers even hold such a sway that the action is adapted to the exact timing of their scores, and not the other way around!
Let us know what you think about music and film, your favourite soundtracks and scores, and if you are any better at watching scary movies than me!
Cover photo by Pixabay