Without music, most movies wouldn’t even get off the ground running. A bold claim? Oh, absolutely. But is it true? Almost without a doubt. Music appeals to the viewers and their emotions are heightened when listening to it accompanying scenes. It’s the reason you feel more scared during thrillers when there’s a sinister soundtrack, uplifted during that moment in a rom-com where the characters finally kiss, and it explains why you’re on the edge of your seat when a carefully selected track plays during the most tense action scenes in action movies. Sound and music guides the audience and helps them feel what they’re supposed to feel.
Movies aim to move you
There’s a lot of emphasis on movies leaving a lasting impression on their viewer. This is their purpose after all, and so it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Cinema is an art form, and each movie is made up of countless parts which contribute to its success – from the actors to the directors as well as the special effects and more.
Think about some of the most inspirational movies of our time. Movies that inspire us long after we watch them are often the classics, and with their often poignant meanings or stellar performances (see Billy Elliot, The Pursuit of Happyness and It’s a Wonderful Life), music’s role in each is often impossible to ignore, too. In an article written by Lottoland, we even see Whiplash, a film about the life of a musician, listed as an inspirational movie that can change your life.
The many reasons for music use
It’s not exactly a secret that you can’t just rock up to a production studio and recommend a soundtrack to a film. A music score is written and composed specifically to feature in a film, or painstakingly selected to be the exact right fit to create the correct mood. Inherently, music has an important role as a dramatic device.
Not only does it set a scene or add suspense; it can also be used for a multitude of other reasons, which slowly affect our viewing experience subconsciously. These include for commentary purposes, portraying emotions, to refer to a period of time, imply a sense of space or create an atmosphere for any reason you can think of.
Iconic movie soundtracks
Music in movies has been described by the Guardian as a “secret art”, and we agree. Sometimes the music associated with films goes on to be absolutely iconic – pieces written solely for those films and then ingrained not only into our viewing but our existence in modern culture as a whole. As Neil Brand, who has an entire series devoted to sounds in cinema points out, some soundtracks are better when they’re not noticed at all – subtlety is important – while others are associated instantly with the films and make them more memorable as a result. Think along the lines of Harry Potter and Star Wars, whose original scores have delighted audiences for decades, and are instantly recognizable.
Movies may not even be half as memorable without music, and for that reason, the manipulation here is always welcome.
As a bonus, below you will also find a list of 6 films released in 2018 that are worth checking out especially for their original scores. How many of them you think will actually get an Oscar nomination or win the prestigious “Best Original Score” award?
A Star Is Born (Directed by Bradley Cooper)
Black Panther (Directed by Ryan Coogler)
Isle of Dogs (Directed by Wes Anderson)
First Man (Directed by Damien Chazelle)
The Favourite (Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos)
Incredibles 2 (Directed by Brad Bird)