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Music in Film: Drama, Continuity, and Theme

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on 25 September 2014

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Transcript of Music in Film: Drama, Continuity, and Theme

Legacy via Continuity
The Bond theme has become such an iconic part of the franchise, some aspect of the theme is featured in the score of every film.
Enhancing Drama
We discovered in our last activity that watching a scene from a film with no sound left us feeling a little lost. A film score, whether we're consciously paying attention to it or not, helps us to understand deeper aspects of a film's plot line.

The film score is a tool implemented by the director and composer to help convey a mood and contribute to the story of the film.
Subliminally guides viewer about how to feel
Channels different times, places, moods, themes, character qualities or traits
Different instruments contribute to this (time periods, cultures, etc.)
As important as music and sound can be, silence can give an equally dramatic impact
Bond Theme
Composed by Monty Norman (guitar riff) and arranged and embellished by John Barry for the 1962 film Dr. No
Original instrumentation was for five saxophones, nine brass, solo guitar and a rhythm section
This is one of the most iconic themes in film history, and has been featured in some part in all twenty-three Bond films
The guitar riff is seen as Bond's leitmotif
Inspired by the surfer culture of the 1960s
Music Providing Continuity
Continuity (seamless and consistent linking of elements over time) is another important element in the progression of the plot line.
Theme and Motif
Theme - a recognizable melody that forms the basis of a composition

Motif - an important, short musical idea that recurs throughout a composition

A theme is usually a complete phrase, while a motif is a shorter, smaller part of something bigger.
ex. Theme: The Godfather Love Theme ex. Motif: Jaws

Leitmotif - short, recurring musical phrase or idea that is associated with a character, place, or idea.
Music in Film: Drama, Continuity, and Theme
How exactly does the score enhance drama?
Recurring motivic ideas and themes in the music (leitmotif)
Timing and placement of music (scene changes; foreshadowing)
Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey
Peaked at #2 on Billboard Hot 100
Written by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley
Recording session lasted all night
Skyfall by Adele
Skyfall (2012)
Peaked at #2 on UK Singles Chart
and #8 on Billboard
First Bond theme to win an Oscar
Features a 77-piece orchestra
Examples of Leitmotif
Jaws - John Williams
"Imperial March" from Star Wars - John Williams
Lord of the Rings - Howard Shore

Leitmotif can also be represented with specific instruments.
Listening Excerpts
"Main Title" from
-Rachel Portman
Theme from
-Hans Zimmer
Full transcript