Film Score Music


To say that music plays a large role in our society would not do
justice to one of the most important and popular art forms of yesterday and
today. We underestimate the effectiveness and power that music, in any form ,
can have over even the most insensitive of people. In almost everything we do
and see music is involved in some form or another. Be it a piece played at a
wedding, a song played on the radio or even the music played in the background
in a television commercial. The music is always there, reminding us of past
experiences, making us smile and feel exhilaration and sometimes even making us
cry. It is this power that music has over us that film score composers take
advantage of when they are writing the music to accompany the movies. As
listeners we often do not appreciate that the music that is scored for films or
played in films is put there on purpose to create a certain feeling, emphasize a
point, give more life to a character or sometimes to simply add humour. What
the average moviegoer does not usually realize is that a great deal of time and
thought goes into writing the score for a film and choosing the background music
for a scene. None of the music is arbitrary; themes and sub themes have been
created with specific ideas in mind and have been put in place only to add to
the story and the characters. It is also important to acknowledge that the
evolution into the type of film scoring that we are accustomed to today was not
a quick or easy transition. It has taken almost a century to develop the
specific techniques that are used in todays films. When the first moving
pictures were seen they were known as silent films, although they were not
actually silent. They contained a very primitive type of musical accompaniment
that laid the foundation for what was to later develop. As time passed the type
of music found in films developed into a fine art containing specific
guidelines and techniques that most composers tend to follow. The average
person does not usually pay astute attention to the music that is being used in
a film, however, if it were to not be there the films would seem empty and as if
something was missing. The actors, the writing and the direction is what is
primarily noticed in a film but the music is the inconspicuous supporter of all
of these elements. To create a film that will be effective it is essential that
the film have a thoughtful score, and, as the audience, it is our duty to
acknowledge the music in order to fully understand all that is being displayed
to us in the film.
To realize fully the foundation of what we now recognize as an
effective film score it is important to examine the music behind a silent film.
No film was actually ever completely silent. There may not have been a
soundtrack that we are accustomed to, however, the music was always essential to
a movie, no matter how primitive it may be. In the earliest days of film the
music was played on a phonograph. This was around the time of Edison. The
phonograph was an invention that did not last long in the world of film. The
next step was the use of a vitaphone, which also did not play a lasting role in
the movie industry. The next step was not the use of a recorded soundtrack but
rather it was the use of live musicians. The live music came about as the
movies were becoming a little more common. The films began to be played
commercially in Vaudeville houses, cafes, and music halls where musicians were
already hired to play in the musical concerts that evening. Because the
musicians were already there they were asked if they would play along with the
film. In the Vaudeville houses there was no specific place for them to sit so
they sat seated at the front , in front of the screen. Even after theatres were
built to show the moving pictures a space was created at the front where the
musicians were to sit. Because the musicians were inexperienced with
accompanying films they played what they liked or what they knew. This made it
uncommon that the music actually fit with the action on the screen. The
musicians paid little attention to the film and played arbitrarily. This meant
that often a serious or dramatic scene would