Whether or Not to Score

8 Apr

The other day, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Deon Lee, a graduate student at the University of Southern California in the Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television program.  More than a talented musician and composer, Deon is intelligent and intuitive.

My main question for him was how a movie score can be incorporated in an authentic, sincere way.  I feel movie scores are often manipulative; their primary aim is to arouse a specific emotion in the viewer.  This makes sense when a movie’s primary goal is to frighten or inspire.  Can you imagine a typical horror film or drama without music?

On the other hand, a desired emotional effect is the last thing I care about in my films.  Rather, I primarily strive to explore life on screen within a particular atmospheric mood.  My films may cause one viewer to smile while another weeps.  Deon understood my concern and encouraged me to simply communicate my directorial vision to the composer.  In other words, rather than discuss a desired emotional effect, I ought to share my visual and tonal approach for individual scenes and the movie as a whole.  The composer will then be free to create organically and not be results-driven.

I am still a bit wary about using a music score in my film.  I’ve often considered atmospheric sounds as my “score”; however, for this particular project, which explores a woman’s interior life, I believe an authentically crafted score will enhance my film greatly.

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7 Responses to “Whether or Not to Score”

  1. Amir May 13, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    Maybe the simplest score of all time, but by far my favorite….Jaws
    Take away the score, and the movie isn’t clearly as suspenseful.

  2. Kenn April 8, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    Ive got some new noise for you !

    • Christopher April 8, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

      You’re the man, Kenn! Thanks so much for the comment. I will definitely be touching-base with you when the time comes. This film is really going to be a fertile bed for creativity for all involved. So if I decide to go with music, the composer is going to have a ton of opportunity…. Thanks again!

  3. Art April 8, 2010 at 2:11 am #

    One of the best atmospheric moods and scores for me is the one in Mulholland Dr., by David Lynch. Another one is in EWS by Stanley Kubrick. They really make you immerse into the scene and breathe the same air the character does.

    • Christopher April 8, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

      Art! Crazy… You know, I was looking for a Mulholland clip on YouTube, but couldn’t find one. Lynch’s scores are always great. I completely agree with you. Great minds think alike, huh? Thanks for the comment!

    • Miguel N. April 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm #

      The Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack is one of my favorites. It made me look into other music by Giorgio Oligeti. He is a genius.

      Even though I had listened to other Kronos Quartet albums, the music for Requiem for a Dream is superb. Beyond any soundtrack, everything they play is great. Check the albums Nuevo, Black Angels and Floodplain.

      The soundtrack I’ve never been able to find is Pi. Great music composed by Clint Mansell.

      • Christopher April 14, 2010 at 2:27 pm #

        Miguel, I’ll definitely check out those soundtracks. Thanks…

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