Music Alive!, Musicfest Online

The Power of Music in Film

In the first video below, the filmmakers explore a number of moods cultivated by music in film. The introduction is set to a stylized jazzy piece reminiscent of Ocean’s Eleven, The Blues Brothers, or The Pink Panther, introducing our narrator as the coolest guy in the room. It’s incredible, however, how our opinion of him changes when the music does!

Consider the second scene, then, when the characters drink their tea and we sense impending doom, signaled by the so-called “drone of dread.” We can’t help but be reminded of the opening music to PT Andersons There Will Be Blood or The Monolith on the Moon from 2001: A Space Odyssey While the music is relatively static, it powerfully propels the story forward.

Additionally, listen for the vast contrast drawn between the heroic and villainous music, drawing to mind the incredible opening of Danny Elfman’s Batman Theme from 1989 and the insidious Theme from Dracula by Wojciech Kilar, among so many other examples.

How to Imitate a Whole Bunch of Film Music

While the first video helped us experience the Power of Music in Film through the musical contrasts presented, the second video explores a numbering system that reveals some of the harmonic relationships at work in iconic film scores. The “Four Easy Steps” proposed in the second video, while not the entire story of what makes strong film music, provide some insight into the theory behind the effect.

After watching these videos, what other film scores come to mind? What are some of your favorite moods created by music in film? What else do you think goes into a strong film score in addition to the harmony and melody?