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Thread: Is a score integral to a film to evoke emotion?

  1. #1
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    Jan 2012

    Is a score integral to a film to evoke emotion?


    For my dissertation I will be looking at scores used in film. Often films largely rely on a score to evoke emotion and there are many memorable examples which remain in the audience consciousness, becoming a cultural classic. Films such as Jaws, which features an iconic sound phrase in the opening scene, takes away the need for a visual scene.

    Martin Williams writes that even today, "at the crudest level, one might say that the music is there simply to keep the audience from becoming distracted" (Williams, 1974).

    Having set this scene, I’m going to prove Martin Williams wrong. I’ll do this by thoroughly investigating how people they react to a score and there attitude towards then by conducting questionnaires, surveys, talking to professionals and an experiment. Whether or not a score is integral to a film in my mind is yet to be proved but in my opinion it enhances, creates and evokes emotion. Or can in fact a film deliver the emotion without the use of a score.

    I will be looking at scores used in a range of films. A lot of work goes into making of a soundtrack for a film but your average audience doesn’t have any idea how much work or how complex a score is. I’m specifically going to look at the composer and whether or not a film can evoke emotion without the use of a score. Personally I don’t think it can in the same way, but several very famous films have done it, I’m going to investigate how they did it and if it works.

    I was just wondering what people thought and if anyone could possibly give me an interview for my piece?

    Thanks for reading.

  2. #2
    Admiral Honkenwheezenpooferspieler Corno Dolce's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
    Moscow, Russia

    Having seen silent films both w/ and without words and/or music, it is quite clear that music is an aid to evoke an emotional response. A composer can write a score for any type of film - Whether he/she is successful depends on some factors like the script, some work of litterature e.g. Shakespeare, access to film sequences...The variables are many imo........I would think that the Director has a key role in setting the "stage" for what kind of emotion or lack thereof is sought after. In concluding, I will posit that a masterfully made film without music can evoke an emotional response. Lets see what the film receipts bring in........Let us never forget that the sense of hearing is a very vital sense - In this age of 3 minute and 33 second soundtrack mind programming(the average length of a cd/mp3 soundtrack in commercial recordings) I would think that an emotional panic would be ablaze in the audience if there were no sound.
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    *Protagoras: "Truth is subjective. What is true for you, and what is true for me, is true for me. Your opinion is true by virtue of its being your opinion."

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  3. #3
    Duckmeister teddy's Avatar
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    Apr 2010
    Any question as to whether a film can evoke emotions without a score is settled by NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. No music at all, not even on the intro, where they use a voice-over to accompany shots of the dawn breaking over the landscape. Does a score help? Generally yes, whether it is to evoke emotion, set a scene or merely remind you who the star is (Clint Eastwood as the cowboy with no name for example)


  4. #4
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    Welland, Ontario, Canada, mid Niagara Peninsula, between Great Lakes Erie and Ontario
    I was just reading a Hollywood biography, about a film editor.
    When he began, silent movies mostly had pianists playing along in the theatre.
    One of my girlfriends in Toronto had a father who did that, interesting to talk with.
    Then movies would use a song as a feature, part of the plot, someone singing.
    When a friend of this editor played phonograph music along with a film viewing,
    it blew everybody's mind how much this atmospheric addition enhanced the viewing experience.
    Soundtracks emerged.
    If I ever had anything to do with making a movie, I'd want to be the editor and develop the soundtrack myself.
    Okay, if the as-yet-untitled Frederik Magle was there and had input, I'd let him output.

    Bass rumble, as sensurround effects? Done. What are they trying in Hollywood theatres? Smells and aromas.
    Monty Python in the sixties? A person sitting behind you acting out the movie on you, touching, hitting, breathing, etc.

  5. #5
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Feb 2012
    hehehe..>>>you are so right!

  6. #6
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso John Watt's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Welland, Ontario, Canada, mid Niagara Peninsula, between Great Lakes Erie and Ontario
    When I was an usher in my teens I got into trouble sometimes, sometimes.
    I'd want to walk in front of the screen to see the best parts up close,
    and during 2001, when the colour rush was on, I'd flash my flashlight into the front row eyes,
    greatly enhancing the acid experience, or so I thought.
    However, a constant complaint was when the between films filler was on.
    They used Acker Bilk, "Strangers on the Shore" and Pete Fountain, swinging N'awlins jazz,
    and I'd use my flashlight like a clarinet and harmonize along.
    No-one ever tipped me for that.

  7. #7
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    Apr 2012
    I believe that, although film and visual techniques may be the only things necessary to evoke emotion, the score of a film is the catalyst that gives those emotions meaning. What would all of our favorite classic movies be without their soundtrack and score? Even during the silent era of movies, when the big screen could not accommodate audio, films would often be accompanied by an in-house piano or music act, bringing the movies more flavor and depth. Although the filming techniques have changed since back in the day and have advanced, the music is just as essential as it was when the silver screen began to shine.

    I may be biased, though. My hobbies and career involved creating scores for video and any other type of media.

    Thank you for your interest and keep composing!

    -Adam Joyner

  8. #8
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Mar 2012
    Ottawa, Ontario
    To throw my hat in the pit, let me share my thoughts:

    Music is almost always crucial to evoke emotion in a movie, or in similar pieces. I say 'mostly crucial' depending on the quality of the actors; no music can make bad action awkward.

    However, the absence of music can spike emotions. Two examples:

    1) "Precious", the ending scene is extremely emotional, but no music
    2) "The Hurt Locker" most scenes have absolutely no music, but that's what kept me on the edge of my seat. ******* tense.

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