Composer: Emmett Cooke
This angelic and graceful track is beautiful and elegant. Heavenly and passionate it is sensitive and soulful stimulating and touching to the listener. Tranquil and delicate it will add a warm touch to your project
By Isabella Woods
In a world where CGI and 3D seem to dominate every movie, many modern moviegoers have forgotten just how important film scores are for creating mood, atmosphere and effects. While whiz-bang special effects have their place, often some of the most tense, memorable and emotional scenes in movie history are the result of the right music at the right time. Whether it’s a Hollywood production, a local commercial, or a YouTube video promoted by a viral marketing agency, the right music score can turn a piece of action or drama into something memorable, emotive and engaging.
For some films, while the images and drama have long disappeared from our memories, the score remains, awakening memories of what we’ve seen whenever we hear the film’s music. On some occasions, the music score becomes even memorable than the actors and plot and is Just as integral.
Perhaps the most famous use of music, John Williams’ shark theme was incredibly simple, just alternating E and F notes played on a tuba. The result was not only suspenseful, but in Spielberg’s own words, “without it the film would not have been half as successful.” For most of the film, the score was the only representation of the shark. Special effect problems plagued the set, with the shark’s animatronics not functioning the way Spielberg had hoped. For most of the movie, Williams’ score was the shark, and the tempo of the two alternating notes generated all the suspense and terror that made the film a worldwide hit and launched the careers of both Stephen Spielberg and John Williams.
In Hitchcock’s most notorious thriller, Bernard Herrmann’s famous score also provided terror and suspense. The infamous shower scene, which at the time had audiences fleeing the theatres in horror, is a testament to the power of a good film score. The reason audiences found the scene so disturbing was nothing to do with the visuals – the actual onscreen action only depicts the flash of a blade and Janet Leigh screaming – but Bernard Herrmann’s use of a screeching violin, which generated the true terror of the scene.
Hermann also helped generate the film’s pace and general atmosphere with the main music he composed for the film. A tense arrangement of two melodic lines, the music generates a threat of violence that while not actually present through the first twenty minutes of the film, keeps the audience anticipating it, which maximizes the suspension for when the action eventually does occur.
Music not only generates tension and emotion but it can also invoke a sense of majesty and location. David Lean’s classic historical drama was one of the most picturesque movies of all time. Maurice Jarre’s magnificent film score, performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, accompanied the epic landscapes and stunning cinematography to such an extent you can almost feel the desert heat and shimmering landscapes.
Another score that befits its setting perfectly is Ennio Morricone’s, who used gunfire, whistles and native Mexican chants to invoke a sense of time and place. Using different instruments to accompany the presence of the three main protagonists, Morricone’s score also helped generate character in Sergio Leone’s classic western, making viewers only too aware of who the good, the bad and the ugly were.
The Nina Rota score in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic crime drama is another of cinema’s most memorable pieces of music, and one of the most controversial. The operatic feel of the music fitted the movie perfectly. However, some of the score was not originally made for the film. Rota’s Love Theme, now so famous with its haunting violins and distinctly Italian feel, was originally used in a 1958 comedy called Fortunella. The music, however, has now become so synonymous with Godfather it would be hard to imagine the film without it.
Using a classical orchestra soundtrack in a science fiction action film was an odd juxtaposition, and yet John Williams’ music is now one of the most famous film scores of all time. While the film’s dialogue and characterization lacked depth, the music provided the much needed emotion, which helped shaped the warmth of the protagonists and the foreboding nature of Darth Vader and the Empire.
Documentary Films have a different process than a fictional narrative. Most of the time, the filmmaker has a story outline they are trying to tell, but as shooting commences, life happens! Unexpected events arise and what was going to be the dramatic climax is eclipsed by something more interesting or unusual.
To use music to score the film, you can hire a composer to start developing a library of musical themes for the story. This is something I’ve done several times and it works quite well. Because of the fluid nature of documentaries, you can provide the only constant to the whole process which is a consistent emotional tone with the music. Documentaries come together in the editing process and by having a library of thought out music to tell this story is extremely helpful.
You can also do this by carefully selecting similar pieces of music in a production music library like 300 Monks. Sometimes you can get great results by using several different pieces by the same composer or even different sections of the same piece. By the way, you can tell if a piece is by the same composer by the visual icon which are assigned to each composer.
You can also wait until a rough edit of the picture is done and then score the piece with a composer or by choosing from our music library.
Ways to Use Music In a Documentary
Here’s a video that goes over some of the basics of music for a documentary. He forgot to mention that you can license music through a website like ours for affordable and legal clearance.
This is a portion of a panel from the Music In Film Summit 2010. Obviously this case study example, Despicable Me, is out of the budget range of almost all independent filmmakers, but it does give an idea of all the behind the scenes things that are necessary to select and create music for a film.
Unfortunately, we don’t see the shot with and without the music, but listening to the discussion gives a broad overview of how composers and music supervisors approach storytelling aspect. I always think of scoring film as sort of like taking a big gigantic AUDIO HIGHLIGHTER through the script which I use in multiple colors to draw attention and manipulate the emotions of the audience.
This is mostly about the relationship aspect of making a film work with building a good creative team which includes Director, Producer, Composer and Music Supervisor.
This is one of the best examples of how music can be used to change the complete intention of the storyline in your film or video.
Pretty hysterical how over the top their musical choices are.
They also have a pretty clever sponsorship product placement.
TV and Film Composer Kevin Packard covers all the bases of emotion from magical and fantastical, to creepy and spooky to dramatic underscoring to chase scenes. Some of his tracks sound perfect for replacing a Danny Elfman cue, others sound destined for use in a television 30 second spot for Home Depot or something.
All of these tracks are available for instant download and have been pre-cleared and royalty free for your use.
Here’s a few of my favorites off the top.
Chaser – Hard edged and driving, but with elements of beauty, this pulsating contemporary electronic instrumental is perfect for Xtreme Sports, Ski Movie, X Games, Fashion, Racing, or Crime Drama, Getaway, Chase Scene, Movie Theme, Trailer, Credits
Alice’s Dream – Danny Elfman ish eerie waltz. Starts off with vocalese and harmonium and gradually adds orchestral and electronic elements as it builds in intensity. Great for Christmas scene with elves or any magical Tim burton ish type of scene.
Lawn Jockey 30 – quirky instrumental with acoustic guitar and accordion as the featured voices adding bass and a good drumbeat. Would make a great companion to a quirky, humorous spot. Anything from Lawn Doctor to kid’s energy bars to vacation fun
Onward – Ethereal beginning with acoustic guitar and piano gives this reaffirming instrumental track a feeling of beginning, like the start of a new day or beginning of a journey. Great for show intro, family drama, youth drama, self awareness. historical exploration documentary, biography .