Experts in the role of music in film sometimes refer to the underscore as if it were another character in the film. For example, Norman Hollyn, in his book, The Lean Forward Moment: Create Compelling Stories for Film, TV, and the Web (Voices That Matter) talks of music as a dynamic element that reflects the relationships between the on-screen characters. Because music and moving pictures are time-based media, we can express changes in relationships too. Falling into love or out of love or a growing tension over a span of time.
Today's case in point, is a scene from Breakdown, starring Kurt Russell. There is a scene where the Russell character enters a bar looking for clues to the disappearance of his wife. The audio cues in this scene hit us over the head a bit to mark the points where the story is turning. For example, when he sees the receipts in the bar tender's hands.
Later, when the Russell character is outside, we see him on the phone and then talking to a mentally challenged character washing his car. The slide guitar tells us that the character is figuring things out while playing to the rural setting.
In summary, film music can bring the viewer inside a character's state of mind and mark points where there is a change in a relationship. Like when the guy says, "it's the PO-lees that's doin' it."
(c) 2009 Carlos Garza
In addition to the mini film score reviews, you will find some of my technical reviews of products for film composers and sound designers. In the pipeline is a series on using Apple Logic for film music and sound design and interviews with some of today's top film composers. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
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