Film Scores – How do they do it?

What would a movie be like without sound? Would we still be able to feel the emotions of elation, fear, anticipation, sorrow and joy? Even though it is the most important component to a motion picture, it is often over looked and taken for granted. The musical geniuses that evoke emotion from us, or that places an unforgettable melody in our heads, are not thought of or remembered while watching the actors bring their characters to life. And just how much work and precision that is poured into the theme songs and movie scores, remains unknown to the public.

Composers and songwriters have a very important and difficult job to perform. Once the rough cut of a movie has been filmed, it is sent on to the musicians to work their magic. Composers rely on the emotions of a scene to create the suited piece of music to flow into the movie sequence. They exhaust their own emotions, artistic abilities and musical talent to compose a melody that will remain bound to the motion picture forever. And it is not just about watching the movie and writing music for it. Directors, filmmakers and composers work together and collaborate endlessly, to either adjust the music, or to adjust the film to suit the music. Composers are also able to derive musical pieces from the personalities of the characters.

Depending on the composer, and with all the latest technology that is available to them, they will either use the traditional methods such as the piano or a computer based writing program. Reviewing a certain piece of the film might trigger a melody, or some composers have their own muses that assist them in awakening their creative talents. No matter what their preferred choice is, the challenge remains the same. To format a music score that is relevant to the scenes that is then either put together on the computer or recorded by an orchestra.

When looking at legendary composers a few names come to mind. Jerry Goldsmith that was responsible for the movie scores of China Town, Total Recall, Papillion and Poltergeist. Henry Mancini that filled our hearts with ‘Moon River’ from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s and put a spring in the step of Pink Panther. And the legendary John Williams that frightened us in Star Wars, made us cry in E.T, left audiences screaming in Jaws, brought tears to our eyes in Schindler’s List and made us sing along in Fiddler on the Roof.

So the next time you curl up on your couch with your favorite movie and a bowl of popcorn give some thought to the musical masterminds that are the reason you feel the emotions and remember the movies.