Three Reasons Why I Love Film Scores

My kind of nerds (Doctor Who BBC Proms 2013)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.Β 

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?


About nevillegirl

Elizabeth. University of Iowa class of 2019. Triple majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies. Twenty-one-year-old daydreamer, introvert, voracious reader, aspiring writer, and lesbian. Passionate about feminism, mental health, comic books, and cats.
This entry was posted in Harry Potter, Neville Sings The Blues, Nevillegirl's Adventures!, Non-Neville Posts, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Three Reasons Why I Love Film Scores

  1. Artgirl says:

    That is most definitely a picture of Doctor Who at the Proms 2013.
    Ahhhhhhh I agree with everything you said. I’m not a terrible singer, but not great either, yet I still often find myself wishing I could sound like the instruments in some highly emotional film score. I guess I’ll just have to learn to play an instrument.
    So that’s what it’s called, leitmotif. I agree, Murray Gold is wonderful at using those. He’s wonderful in general when it comes to the Doctor Who score. *doesn’t even try to conceal fangirling anymore*

    • nevillegirl says:

      It most definitely is! I was looking for a picture of a concert for some kind of film score and with the LotR stuff I found, it was kind of hard to tell what it was for. And then I saw this and was like, “DALEKS IN A CONCERT YES GOOD.”
      Doctor Who music is wonderful (and during the cheesier episodes, it’s what keeps me watching).

      • Artgirl says:

        A lot of the Nine episodes were a bit cheesy, but they were cheesy in a good way. I’ve been rewatching a few of those and I’d forgotten how much I loved the music. Series 1 music wouldn’t have worked as well in the later seasons, but it’s perfect in the episodes it’s in.

  2. matttblack42 says:

    I also love the eleventh Doctor’s theme as well. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a score more than I’ve listened to “I am the Doctor,”or “The Majestic Tale (Of a Madman in a Box).”

    Have you gotten to series 6 yet? (My personal favorite.) And how does the eleventh Doctor compare to nine and ten?

    • nevillegirl says:

      I love a lot of Doctor Who music. There may be a post on that sometime. πŸ™‚

      Nope! I’m on series five, episode seven – “Amy’s Choice”. But I’m hoping to watch a bunch of episodes this weekend, so I should reach series six soon. I can’t believe anything can be better than series four, though. It was AWESOME.
      Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm. Eleven is decent. Nine is still my favorite, and Ten is really cool, especially in his last series. My problem isn’t so much with Eleven as it is with Amy. SHE IS SO BORING. Apparently Rory and River are more important in series six? I hope so, because I want to push Amy off a cliff

      • matttblack42 says:

        Amy gets better in my opinion. She’s one of my favorite companions, but I completely understand why people find her irritating, what with her rudeness and her treatment of Rory and whatnot.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I realize that this is only the seventh episode with her but I liked Rose, Donna, and Martha much more at that point in their series. :/
      I do like Rory’s adorable awkwardness, though.

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  4. This will sound incredibly smarty-pants, but I prefer Mozart, Beethoven, or Tchaikovsky over film scores, at least for studying and writing. Background music. When I know the composer well, I don’t find myself conducting the orchestra while I’m supposed to be writing. Also, film scores are written specifically for stories, and if I hear that music playing while I’m trying to write my own story, it’s going to turn out strangely. Tchaikovsky, however, seems to play the strong notes just as I type my plot twists, so I like it.

    That being said, I love film scores. The art of creating anything that simple that can evoke emotions that powerful is intriguing. When taken on its own, it’s hardly a symphony– look at Dream Is Collapsing from the Inception soundtrack– but when taken with the movie in mind, with all the emotions roaring through at the end (if it’s a good movie, that is), the songs are brilliant.

    Good post.

    • nevillegirl says:

      See, I don’t find that a problem. Like I said, film scores are a big source of emotion in movies so if I’m writing a scene with a certain mood, I listen to something from a movie/scene that also has that mood.
      I do love Beethoven, though.

      I have no idea how composers do that. How do they watch a movie and go, “Oh, I need that kind of music here and hey, what about this theme over there?” Just… wow.

  5. Taylor Lynn says:

    My family used to think that I was crazy because after watching TITANIC, I got obsessed with the movie (and the history of the actual ship, too) and ended up listening to the film score almost constantly for awhile. They didn’t get what I liked so much about the songs, and even though as soon as one started I could tell you exactly which track it was, they were convinced that every song sounded the same. Personally, though, while I adore songs with lyrics and they comprise most of my musical collection, I love film scores for much the same reasons you do: they’re varied and engaging but are good in the background, too, and they evoke strong emotions. TITANIC, Harry Potter, Narnia–those scores are all full of nostalgia that makes my heart hurt in the best way possible!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Pfffft. They’re not all the same! Maybe it is an acquired thing, though – I’m hopeless at remembering the titles of some songs with lyrics, but I have the track listing for THG memorized.

      • Taylor Lynn says:

        Oh, I quite agree–they’re definitely not the same, haha! The thing is, though, if you don’t listen to the scores except in passing then all you hear are the leitmotifs (a new word for my vocabulary–look at me, learning new things every day! πŸ˜‰ ) and not the variations and different instrumentals. For example, my family is convinced that every track on the Titanic score is basically just the instrumentals for “My Heart Will Go On”, which is certainly a leitmotif throughout the entire film but is hardly the theme for the entire movie! It’s so strange because nearly every track sounds so distinct to me, and it’s hard to understand how everyone else just can’t hear it, haha. πŸ˜‰

  6. doctormark says:

    Film scores can make or break the movie. No one can touch John Williams, in my opinion, but Danny Elfman has done some incredible things. Who would have thought a start with Oingo Boingo would lead to doing some great writing for film? Remember the comment I made on your birthday post about following what you love? I could have been very happy scoring films . . .

    My favorites are Harry Potter, Doctor Who, and BBC Sherlock themes. Especially DW.

    • nevillegirl says:

      I have fallen in love with the Doctor Who score. I’m listening to “The Majestic Tale (Of A Madman In A Box)” right now, in fact. It’s gorgeous.

      *has a sad because she still hasn’t figured out how she’s going to watch series seven* I’m suggesting that the library get it, but also trying to find it online. πŸ™‚
      Have you finished the fanfiction list yet?

      • Nope. I’m thinking you should probably dread it. It’s long as frick already and I haven’t even got through Harry Potter yet, though I’m done with Who. I think I’m nearing the end of Potter, though. The list I’m picking from is alphabetical and I’m through the ‘T’s, but there are a lot of stories that start with ‘T’. So yeah, you’ll be doing a lot of reading when this is done. (Question: Have you heard of the show Supernatural?)

        Sadly, Netflix hasn’t gotten series 7 yet 😦 I think they have reruns on TV, but I’m not sure. They might play the last half of series 7 in November, because Nov. 23rd is the 50th anniversary of DW and we’re getting a big special that day.

        Ah yes, you should look (or rather, listen) to this. It’s awesome.

    • nevillegirl says:

      OK, thanks!
      Yes, I have heard of Supernatural, but I don’t watch it. Should I?
      Reruns on the BBC? We don’t get cable so no BBC. 😦 But I realized that I have birthday money, so I’ll just buy the series seven DVD.
      Aaaaaand yep, I’m very excited for that day. I’d been meaning to watch the show for a while and I thought, “Why not just start now, there’ll be the 50th anniversary and a Christmas special and a new Doctor…?” And Catching Fire is the day before the 50th anniversary! *cannot handle all the nerdy excitement*

      Am I supposed to be seeing a Comic-Con video? That is awesome AAAAHHH ELEVENTH DOCTOR AND DID I JUST SEE DANY THERE OOOH.

      The reason I asked, though, is that I copied the link to a new tab and it showed me some medley of the “I Am The Doctor” theme variations which was awesome so… I thank you for inadvertently showing me more awesome stuff. *listens to “The Sun’s Gone Wibbly”*

      • Yes, yes you should. Short summary of Supernatural: Hot men fighting evil, going to Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, and battling angels, demons, ghosts, and tricksters. Yes, yes, it is awesome.

        Aww 😦 But yes, get the DVD. You’ll definitely want to watch *ahem* certain episodes over again.

        …I think I copied the wrong type of link. Normally, I get to videos through a playlist, so when I accidentally copy the playlist-version of a link, it just shows the whole thing. It was supposed to be the “I Am The Doctor” Medley, but I was planning on showing you the Comic-con video at some point, so yay!

    • nevillegirl says:

      Butbutbut Doctor Who has hot girls fighting Daleks! And Cybermen! And… Weeping Angels. *nods*

      I got the DVD! Bless all my relatives who send too much birthday money. ^.^ I saw all of Part 1 in one go, which perhaps wasn’t the greatest idea because I was sleepy the next day, but dang. “The Angels Take Manhattan” was splendid. I don’t like Amy & Rory but their send-off was well-done and made me cry. And River/Eleven was so sweet, I felt like they had more chemistry than usual. (I think I ship River/Ten more than River/Eleven…) Maybe that’s because they’re both pretty advanced in their timelines and know one another better?
      I’m definitely going to rewatch some of it at some point. (That, and series four/its specials. ❀ Which one is your favorite?) Dinosaurs on a Spaceship was ridiculous, but I laughed a lot and liked Brian. "Do you have any vegetable matter in your trousers?" "Only my balls. *Rory facepalms*
      Aaaaand the ending of Asylum of the Daleks was amazing, even though I knew what was going to happen. πŸ˜₯
      Looking forward to The Snowmen… because I have friends who have been going, "AKDLGHSGKSHGLH lesbian Victorian detective lizard and her sidekick wife AAHHHH oh yes and a potato in a suit!!!!!" since last Christmas. So. Yeah.

      Well, thanks for both links!
      Did you see my other message?

      • It’s so hard to pick.

        YAY! I love Dinosaurs on a Spaceship. Riddell is awesome, Tricey is adorable, and Nefertiti and Brian are cool. The Angels Take Manhattan was freaky. That smiling Angel… *shudder* My favorite of series 4? Probably (and I hate to say this) Journey’s End. That great, sweeping moment of victory and utter triumph is just so awesome. And then you get to the really depressing bit :(((.

        Asylum of the Daleks is always awesome. It was actually my first DW episode ever. I love Oswin, she’s so cool. The Snowmen ❀ Vastra/Jenny *squeal*

        You mean the email or the NaNo comment reply? Both, actually.

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  9. Chelie says:

    Yes, number 3 is exactly what I think! I cry when listening to Harry Potter film scores because they remind me of the movies. I love film scores more than any kind of music.The only bad side is, most scores are created using an orchestra, and frankly I can’t play every single instrument all at the same time.

    • nevillegirl says:

      HP certainly has some brilliant songs, doesn’t it?
      And I agree re: playing film scores. It’s very difficult to make my favorite pieces sound like the originals on the piano.

      Thanks for commenting!

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