Monday, December 21, 2009

Film Music

Rick Robinson, who is trying to educate me in film music, suggested this topic. And although looking through my archives, I've touched on it, I never asked it outright.

How much do you notice the music in movies? For me, I notice the music if I am familiar with it. Other than that, not so much. On NPR they play the Oscar-nominated film music each year, and I can swear usually I've never heard the music before even when I've seen the movie--which I usually have. Is it possible that only so many of a sense can be engaged at once for some people and my movie watching is given over to hearing words and not music. Only something already familiar strikes a chord, so to say.

Does anyone else out there have these aural deficits or is it just me?

26 comments:

Paul D. Brazill said...

Oh, i love film music and am a bif fan of Herrman, Moricone, Kilar, John Barry ... the stuff that tsands up on it's own. One of my fave gigs was Morricone at the barbican in 1999 or 2000.

Dana King said...

I'm almost always aware of the score, but I'm a weird case, with a Masters Degree in Music.

I don;t care if a soundtrack stands up away from the movie; it's job is to support the movie. I watched RONIN last night with the Beloved Spouse; that was a excellent example. The score was unobtrusive. It disappeared completely during the car chases. (Not to drown out the car sounds.) It complemented the foot chases, and kind of faded into the background the rest of the time, increasing the tension.

A lot of older movies have lavish (and beautiful) soundtracks that get completely in the way of what's going on.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Mmmm... I can't remember noticing anything abour Ronin at all. Not the music, acting, story, direction or cinematography - so it must have been good then!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Case in point, I saw "Orson and Me" yesterday and have only the dimmest memory of big band music. Ach! I am hopeless.

David Cranmer said...

I tend to notice it more in classic films like THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY with Ennio Morricone's score. There was just something operatic in the style back then. Another would be Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Music From THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD. Today's film not so much.

Scott Cupp said...

Patti - I have been a fan of film music for more than 30 years, startiung wiht early Jerry Goldsmith (none better) and owrking through many others. Currently have about 300 movie soundtrack CDs. Faves include THE WIND AND THE LION (Goldsmith), NCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST (Morricone), ALIENS (Horner), STAR WARS (WIlliams), DAY OF THE DOLPHIN (Georges Delerue), MOVIOLA II (John Barry) and many more. I always notice the muosic in the film and sometimes come out of the film and head straight to the music store looking for the CD.

Charles Gramlich said...

I like the music to be there but I don't really pay attention much unless it doesn't jive with the scene. It adds to the film but I don't much care to listen to film tracks by themselves.

Deb said...

Jerry Goldsmith was the first film composer I was aware of--his music for "Chinatown" expresses the tone of the movie completely. I also like the composers of the 1930s like Franz Waxman. I like music to complement and reflect what is happening on-screen. Generally, I'm only aware of music if it seems out-of-place with the action it is supposed to be supporting.

Cormac Brown said...

Well, it can annoy me to no end, like "Blister In The Sun" did in "Grosse Point Blank." Or Zamfir's pan flute, in "Once Upon A Time In America." It can also be a distraction when they throw in a bunch of unnecessary songs every few minutes in a movie, just so that they can sell the soundtrack. Most of the songs should have some sort of attachment to the action that is going on up on the screen, or at least it should provoke a sentiment that the character or the audience will feel.

Yet, the sign of a really great soundtrack is one that inspires you, the way that John Williams's music did with "Star Wars" or "Indiana Jones." Watch Michael Mann's version of "Last of The Mohicans" again, and tell me that the score doesn't give you goosebumps.

Ray said...

'Last Of The Mohicans' brilliant score. John Barry, Ennio Morricone,
Jerry Goldsmith's 'The Blue Max', Rod Goodwin 'Where Eagles Dare' and 'Battle Of Britain'. Roy Budd 'Soldier Blue' and Klaus Bedelt/Hans Zimmer 'Pirates Of The Caribbean'. But good film scores are few and far between.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think it must be something akin to color-blindness. I just don't hear it unless I already am familiar with it. I especially don't hear music without lyrics.

Anonymous said...

Some film composers are simply geniuses. Dimitri Tiompkin was one. His weaving of the theme, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, through High Noon is masterful. Max Steiner did much the same with the Casablanca theme, As Time Goes By. It evokes tears. And more recently, Basil Poledouris wrought sublime music for Lonesome Dove. And I should mention Randy Edelman, the young genius who did the soul-touching score of Gettysburg.

Richard Wheeler

le0pard13 said...

I'm with Dana, Cormac, Scott and Ray on this with their examples. There are times, and films, were the score is better in the background for support (and continued viewings makes you appreciate its music more), and in the foreground to inspire. I'm also really grateful for the creative use of various, previously created, music tracks (some popular) used on the soundtracks in films by Michael Mann, Quentin Tarantino, Ridley Scott, etc. and their music editors. It's why I have my share of those tracks on my iPod. Thanks, Patti, for bringing the subject up in your post.

George said...

I first noticed movie music when I saw GOLDFINGER as a kid. The great John Barry music moved me to buy the soundtrack--which I played until the grooves wore out. Typically, I don't notice movie music much although Rick is working on me, too.

MP said...

It's either great or I don't notice it at all. Who could ever forget Bernard Herrmann's music for "Psycho"? Or, to take someone not generally associated with music, the director John Carpenter. His music for "Halloween" is absolutely the creepiest thing I've ever heard.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Goldfinger, I noticed. Psycho I noticed. And some of the western music. But so much of this gets away from me.

Martin Edwards said...

I am very keen on film soundtracks and I certainly agree about the great John Barry, as well as Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Herrmann, Ennio Morricone and John Williams. Burt Bacharach's occasional forays have deservedly earned three Academy Awards. But I'd also like to mention the little known Francis Monkman, whose score for The Long Good Friday is superb, and the late and slightly better known Roy Budd, who wrote the music for Get Carter.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Okay, you music people. Do you play an instrument or was there a lot of music in your house growing up?

Martin Edwards said...

I don't play an instrument, but my parents were both music lovers, and that had an impact on me. They encouraged me to play the piano and my greatest regret is that I declined to learn.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I doubt if there is a person alive who doesn't wish they could play the piano--or some instrument. And music programs in schools are becoming scarce.

Anonymous said...

Maybe one has to be a certain age, but I am always transformed by Tara's theme from Gone With the Wind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikVeY0brtXU

Richard Wheeler

Anonymous said...

GWTW Tara's Theme.

Better one.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cITmlbQKCgI

RSW

Anonymous said...

And Casablanca

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wo2Lof_5dy4

Richard Wheeler

Scott Cupp said...

I forgot Hermann's 7th Voyage of Sinbad. Absolutely wonderful with the film and away from it. Horner's The Rocketeer, same thing. Last of the Mohicans was one where I went from the theater to purchase the score. As for my musical talent, I started with radio and after years of practice moved up to the stereo where I have lingered for 4 decades.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Now I do remember the music from GWTW. And Dr. Zhivago. But it got played on the radio back then.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I notice that these days the music plays over the dialogue and I can't tell what people are saying. I hate that.