I’m currently re-spotting a film I’m working on as the edit has changed the film significantly. This got me thinking of best points for starting and stopping music in the film. (See my previous post on what a spotting session is).

Entrances
1) change in emotion or dialog
2) change in camera emphasis or camera moves
3) new actions – character leaves/enters
4) response or reaction by a character
5) Edit points – this may not always work – but definitely useful for cartoony or hard starts

Exits
Pretty much same as above or just dissipating into the ether as it becomes no longer necessary to be there.
It can also be effective to trail off to provide a silent buffer for another entrance coming up.

The use of music in a scene serves to highlight an emotion onscreen – often inside a character’s head – or can also connect scenes or give foreshadowing of what’s to come. By the same token, the use of silence right after music serves to highlight the new silent texture and whatever dialog is being said. Interesting to note that some highly climactic moments work best with no music at all. For example, the murder scene in American Beauty (score by Thomas Newman) is completely silent.

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