The Music in Movies

The visual sense and its vast information input guides us through our daily lives.

Imagination, memories, semantic processes and orientation are formed by memorized pictures and by what we are visually aware of.

It is our mind that understands what we see.

We construct our reality mostly on a visual basis.

Moving images such as movies or commercials serve this function.

In fact, the importance of modern movie culture is due to our visual sense and curiosity.

To learn and to experience emotions are two basic drives of life.

We feel alive when we either see something beautiful or what frightening or disgusting. In all cases our mind will attach information to the visual perception in order to understand and react.

Our acoustic sense doesn’t function this way.

The amount of information contained in acoustic sensation is far smaller and can not be compared with “what we see”.

It wasn’t necessary to develop the same level of abstract thinking in order to understand what we hear. For this reason we do not need our mind to understand acoustic information such as a romantic movie score. It just “touches” us directly. This direct connection is the reason why the music in a movie is so important.

Most people are not able to distinguish why they react to a movie in a certain way. They think it is just the scenery, the actors, or the director’s skill that made them love a specific film.

Movies like Dances with Wolves or Gone with the Wind are examples of how important the musical score is. A simple proof for this thesis is the success of those scores in commercial “classical” radio.

There is no great movie without a great score. Many movies flopped because the music was bad or just badly matched (e.g. the fantasy movie “Ladyhawke”; a medieval setting with modern synthesizer music. )

But there are reasons why it is usually never the composer of the score but always the director or the artists that earn the respect of the audience.

A good score shouldn’t dominate the pictures and should just function well.

Our most important sense is still our vision. Off course it is the director that might loose his reputation if a movie flops and not the music composer.

From the perspective of a composer and producer this can be sometimes frustrating. But we also need to remember that most people have never trained their abilities to distinguish which element of their perception makes them like or dislike something. They might have other skills instead.
If you are a director or producer of moving images you might want to spend some effort to find the right music and invest in music that enhances your visual creation.

This is general information. If you have a specific interest in musical scores and commercial music you could contact a music production company such as

by Arvid the Archer. 2008.

Posted in Movies In Theaters | Leave a comment