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Keeping Score: Functions of Film Music

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Adelaide McKenzie

on 30 May 2014

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Transcript of Keeping Score: Functions of Film Music

Ideas on Keeping Score:
Functions of Film Music

Types of Film Music
The Soundtrack is usually divided into three components:
•Dialogue
•Effects
•Music
The skill of the composer and director is seen in their ability to deliberately integrate these three elements to convey meaning.

Key Functions of Film Music
The following key functions aid the director in conveying the intent and message of the film. Exemplary film composers are able to masterfully achieve two or more of these functions within any given scene.
Identify time and place
Create plot relationships
Create atmosphere
Illustrate movement
Portray emotion
Identifying a Time/Place
Film Music can often set the either the geographic location or time period of a scene.
Allows director to establish a sense of time and place, making this clear to audiences throughout the film
Film composers may adapt musical elements from different genres to create this sense of time/place, perhaps by incorporating instruments commonly associated with the country/time period it is set in
Eg: Didgeridoo to establish an Australian setting
Eg: Writing in the Baroque style to indicate the 17th Century
Create Plot Relationships
This function assists in connecting certain plot points together by giving certain characters/situations/places/plot ideas thematic identities.
Use of "leitmotifs" - short, identifying themes for characters/situations/places to assist the viewer in understanding the position of a character/situation/place within the plot
Themes will be referenced throughout film to guide audience and further the emotion/plot

Portray Emotion
Perhaps the most prominent and effective use of score within a film.
Music can further the drama in a film by reflecting and enhancing the emotion of a character or a scene
Eg. A face with a neutral expression can be pushed into “feeling” many different things just by what kind of music is used
Assists in evoking an emotional response from the audience
Types of Film Music
Music in films is usually of two types:
•Diegetic or source music – music that is heard by the characters themselves, ie. From the world of the narrative.

•Non-diegetic music or underscoring - background music that conveys to the viewer a mood or other aspects of the scene or character.

Non-Diegetic Music
Establishing Time
Establishing Place
Leitmotif: Symbolizing Place

Leitmotif: Representing Character/Plot Function
Create Atmosphere
This is one of the strongest function of music in the movies. It can set the tone of the movie. This can be done in the opening titles to establish a sense of genre and make the intent of the film clear to the audience.
Can be successfully be combined with other such functions as the establishment of time and place to both set tone for the movie, as well as the geographical/period setting.
Setting the Tone
Highlighting Emotion
Reflecting the Action
Illustrate Movement
This idea developed during the early 20th Century, and is known as synchronisation, or “mickey-mousing”.
Score reflects and accentuates every movement seen, providing a musical representation of what is happening visually on screen
Can be used to reflect and enhance action sequences
Technique is also effective in adding a level of comedy to scenes
Diegetic Music
Full transcript