I love film scores. They are my favorite genre and I would rather listen to them than to anything else – even U2, which is saying something because I adore that band. I think my affection for film scores began around age ten when I went with my homeschooling group to see a local orchestra perform a selection of John Williams’ famous themes for Harry Potter and Jurassic Park. I found a CD of his work at the library and have gone from there, branching out as I find new films and television shows with excellent music. Following are three reasons why film scores are amazing!
Film scores are good background music. This may sound strange, but when I’m trying to concentrate, music doesn’t distract me. It’s actually quite helpful. I don’t like working without it because otherwise I either listen to people and my computer (which has very clackety keys) being tunelessly noisy or I drive myself batty with my own prattling mind.
However, I’ve found that music with lyrics can be just as distracting as no music at all. After a while I start to space out, wondering about the meaning of the lyrics. I can more easily tune out film scores when necessary so that when I’m intent on a math problem or something, I hear it and yet I don’t. I don’t notice it all the time but then in between parts of my project when I’m reading the next problem or brainstorming or whatever, I have something to listen to.
But lest you think that film scores make good background music because they are dull, let me correct you. Film scores can certainly be dull, but they can also be amazing and packed with beauty. They do not have to be slow, quiet songs that you’d only listen to when you’re trying to fall asleep. Film scores have varying moods. For example, I’m trying to write this post quickly so “Like A Dog Chasing Cars” from The Dark Knight is appropriate music. Its frantic tempo of drumbeats and majestic horns make me feel like I can do anything, and do it quickly. Game of Thrones is another great score that gets me pumped up. Conversely, quieter scores like Thor, How to Train Your Dragon and Lord of the Rings / The Hobbit are excellent for big projects where I need to take my time, such as when I’m writing a story.
I can play songs from film scores. “Can’t nevillegirl play other songs too?” you ask. Well, yeah. But most songs, certainly any popular ones, are built around lyrics and I can’t sing. I know a few Beatles songs on the piano but they’re not my favorite to play since I have to leave out the words and that’s boring. Such songs usually repeat the same chords over and over again, which isn’t a problem when someone is singing because the lyrics change. Without words that repetition gets old quickly, though. Check out this instrumental version of one of my favorite songs, Adele’s “Someone Like You”, to hear for yourself. Film scores can’t get away with this. Oh, they’ll have themes – properly called leitmotifs – that are phrases of notes repeated throughout a score or even in just one song. However, they won’t play that theme constantly and when it is repeated, there is likely to be a variation. Film scores are fun to play because I can recreate the entire song!
In addition to often being boring, instrumental versions of popular songs tend to lack in emotion. Lyrics make up the emotional power in most songs. Film scores are different because they must convey emotion through instrumentation alone. (With perhaps some vocals, which aren’t the same as lyrics anyway.) I could play the instrumental version of the prettiest popular song ever and even if the chords changed, it wouldn’t be the same. The words that gave the song its deeper meaning would be lost. When I play film scores, everything is there.
Finally, I get a great amount of satisfaction from being able to play these songs whenever I choose. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been booted off the computer so I don’t have YouTube or if the power’s out so I can’t listen to a CD with my boombox. I can play my favorite song in the whole world because I have its sheet music. Awesome.
Film scores play a large role in the emotional component of a movie or television show. I’ve already mentioned that they show emotion without lyrics, but they also enhance the acting and pretty much anything else in a film or TV show. Themes are a great way to stir up emotion. I cried while watching the final Harry Potter film because “Hedwig’s Theme” from the earlier movies was played and with it came nostalgia.
Doctor Who has a great score in part because its composer uses leitmotifs so well. When something big happens to characters, their theme plays to underscore it. Furthermore, the music fits each character and their life – for example, Rose gets the sad music. And when any variation on the triumphant “I Am The Doctor” begins to play, you know that the Eleventh Doctor is going to save the day.
If you want recommendations of wonderful film scores, I will be more than happy to give them! What is your opinion of film scores? Which one is your favorite?