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Film Music / Study 10

How do directors and composers determine where music is needed?

Filmmakers differ in how they view the insertion of music into film. According to Karlin, the "theory that less is more is favored by some directors" (Karlin, 1994). Huntley states that when used too much, music's dramatic power is weakened (Huntley, 1957).

Using a different approach, Jerry Goldsmith, who wrote the scores for Star Trek and Awakenings among others, says, "I decide if it should be there purely by my emotions" (Karlin, 1994).

Often the absence of music is the most effective (Hendricks, 1974). Some of the best composers know when not to use music; some of the most intense scenes remain so because they live on their own. Copland "realized that sheer contrast is in itself dramatic" (Huntley, 1957).

How would the Psycho shower scene appear if it were in silence? Would it appear scarier, as the heroine cannot make any noise, and no one hears the murder?

Or would it appear empty, as if something were missing? Is it okay if the scene is unsettling in this way, or are the directors responsible for making the moviegoers comfortably uncomfortable? The moviegoers know what to expect within the realm of the "unexpected."

These questions may be investigated by showing subjects a movie without music and asking them where music needs to be added. In addition, a separate group of subjects should watch a movie with constant underscoring. Subjects should be asked when they felt the music seemed unnecessary and out of place.

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