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 Posted:   Nov 11, 2007 - 9:00 AM   
 By:   Agent Norman Newman   (Member)

Actually, that point doesn't have anything to do with popularity at all (at least not how it was originally intended). Rather, it's about our EMOTIONAL CONNECTION to a given text. Some would say this is the most important criterion and the only one you need, really.

Hmm, usually when I heard the term 'hook', I think of the hummable melody in a pop song. Am I misusing the term? i'm not sure why something has to be hummable in order for us to have an emotional connection, for one, some of us have no sense of pitch. big grin

 Posted:   Nov 11, 2007 - 9:18 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Hmm, usually when I heard the term 'hook', I think of the hummable melody in a pop song. Am I misusing the term? i'm not sure why something has to be hummable in order for us to have an emotional connection, for one, some of us have no sense of pitch. big grin

Oh, I see. Well, I meant "hook" in the sense that something hooks you on some level. This MAY be because of a pronounced melody (hummability, as you say), but also any other thing, e.g. a (musical) description of something.

 Posted:   Nov 11, 2007 - 2:14 PM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

By the way, those were some interesting points related to film music's FILMIC functions, franz. I love how you go out more "broadly" than - on the one side - classical Hollywood cinema (by way of Gorbman, for example) and counter-theories on the other side (like the previously-mentioned Adorno). I wouldn't necessarily put "tempo" as the first and most important criterion/function, however. I'd rather put semantics first.

Hi Thor. I guess I put tempo first, because whenever talking to a composer about a scene, I find the first thing we have to nail is the sense of motion in the music, and what purpose that motion is serving. Once they have their rhythm and texture, film composers have a foundation on which to thinking about their themes, etc. It was a priority that came about more from a practical experience, I suppose you could say.

I appreciate as well that my post departs a bit from what you guys were already doing here, but I'd been thinking about the subject that very morning, and my thoughts were about ready for some scrutiny.

 Posted:   Nov 11, 2007 - 3:58 PM   
 By:   Agent Norman Newman   (Member)

Theres a 40-odd page thread at GMG that gets into some of these ideas. If there's any boring rainy days soon, might be an interesting read. Then again, might be more of the same. Haven't really looked through.,1031.0.html

 Posted:   Nov 11, 2007 - 4:27 PM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

...I don't think this really applies to instrumental music..

Yes, as I also pointed out earlier, I think I agree with you on this point, except that guys like Adorno and Eisler, for example, believe that music is able to be subversive to an existing ideology by simply going AGAINST the norm. As music isn't really a representative artform, though, it's hard to make such a point convincingly.

I think it is more common than you might believe. It depends on whether the music is simply an unlabelled, non-descriptive work, or whether it is a piece of music which is meant to be descriptive of a story. (e.g. we call a piece 'Blue Skies', and now the exercise is different - how is the music describing 'Blue Skies'?)

Just to show that it is possible, I remember reading a panel discussion involving some film musicologists that I found truly horrific, where Bernard Herrmann's music was not judged for its technique, its feeling, or its adhesion to Hitchcock's film, but for its implications about Herrmann's gender politics.

However, horrified as I was, I didn't make the connection to my critique of James Horner's music for THE NEW WORLD as being too emotionally conventional for its subject and the treatment of it in Malick's film.

Some might also add (I wouldn't) that the music Horner wrote should have gotten more into the anthropological foundations of each culture's music. This truly is an attempt to assess film music via some moral criteria. The same thinking would condemn the implicit orientalism of music written for MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, LAST SAMURAI, CROUCHING TIGER, HERO, etc for only conceding to the true musical culture through token gestures within an otherwise western scoring approach. I remember a friend of mine objected to the music for the recent SOLARIS remake based on its use of a gamelan/tibetan bowls for an alien intelligence - it was playing on a throughly 'western' fear of 'eastern unknowns', and the film needed a truly 'alien, strange' sound to him. (He wanted Ligeti, basically.)

I also recall an FSM article where Doug Adams mentioned Debney's Passion PASSION OF THE CHRIST (a bit of ethnic hodge-podge, admittedly) disparagingly in comparison to the 'integrity' of Mychael Danna's use of ethnic instrumentation in scores like KAMA SUTRA and ARARAT. This would seem to be applying a moral-political criterion. (And yet Danna, as much as anyone else, can liberate culturally-specific instrumentation from the straight-jacket of literal cultural rendering - see SWEET HEREAFTER. I guess there's meant to be a middleground where music is neither entirely culturally accurate, nor liberated entirely from its cultural connections. Duduks and ethnic vocals for films involving sand and deserts seems a kind of banal descriptive shorthand at the moment, for example.)

This seemed to be a critique that could only be assessed in

 Posted:   Nov 11, 2007 - 6:02 PM   
 By:   Heath   (Member)

I think you'll find that there's a genetic or neurological aspect to this in so much that some people (perhaps all) have a hard-wired predisposition to certain musical modes (frequencies, harmonics, timbres etc). These modes can illicit emotions and stimulate the intellect completely independently of actual life-experiences. Thus the "sentimental" aspect of so-called good music, is merely an effect, not the cause.

I have no intention of proving any of this. I can't. It's just an instinctive feeling, educated guesswork, although I imagine there are some published works on this province somewhere!

I don't know if anyone is hunting for the "good music gene" now, but they will be some day, and they'll find it. 24 hours later, record producers will start making money again.

 Posted:   Nov 11, 2007 - 6:21 PM   
 By:   Dan Hobgood   (Member)

Good music? As long as something qualifies as music, which would mean it has periodic vibrations that separate it from pure noise, good music is what somebody personally enjoys.

Good film music? In essence, it's music that complements and enhances a movie--the whole of it--for the sake of an audience. The basic principles that apply to any act of communication naturally apply to the art of film scoring. Good film music, accordingly, is straightforward and accessible--as well as, and at least as importantly, logical. This logic dictates that if a film is organized around an overall, integrated statement/spirit/perspective, like the great majority of movies, its score, to serve as a complement and enhancement, should thus be organized around a corresponding theme which is appropriately developed from start to finish.

So, overwhelmingly, good film music is, in addition to whatever else, based on a theme-and-development approach, used in as clear a manner as possible.


P.S: As for the $1000, I prefer cash. smile

 Posted:   Nov 12, 2007 - 3:25 AM   
 By:   follow me   (Member)

"Good filmmusic" (for me) has mostly to do with MOOD, I guess. Probably (partly) what you call "imagination" - only much more than that. That´s the most important part of a score (for me). The music has to capture the right mood of a film and that´s also one of the reasons why I don´t like most of today´s scores and why I love J.Barry.
Most scores nowadays hardly evoke any mood - apart from creating the obvious "danger" or "happiness" - atmosphere (what you call "the basic moods" - but this is only the most basic requirement for filmmusic, even for "bad filmmusic"). Apart from those "basic moods", modern filmmusic very often creates NO "mood" or "imagination" at all.

Think of the often very precisely created moods and atmospheres in scores by people like Mancini and Barry or Morricone and Goldsmith (in their earlier years):

Charade - the eerie and exciting mood of this strange story
Arabesque - exotic and thrilling ("action music" without all of the cacophonia of today)
Diamonds Are Forever - the cool, glittering mood actually depicting diamonds and danger
OHMSS - Bond, action, romance, the Swiss Alps...the whole film is inherent in the music or the music really IS the film
The Quiller Memorandum and its strange, lonesome feeling
The Knack - young, funny, fresh
Bloodline - mysterious and melancholic
The Godd, the Bad and the Ugly - a new kind of western, a new kind of western music
...etc etc etc

As mood (and melody) are so important for me, I have no need for action music that is extremly loud, hectic - cacophonia. The best "action music" I have ever heard in my life is the main theme from OHMSS BECAUSE it also transports all sorts of emotions, mood and atmosphere...

Your "aesthetic criterion" (complexity, integrity, intensity), has also to do very much with "mood" (and melody) in some way, because if it is done right, it will create more than one level of perception, it will tie the score together and it will create "a hook".

I´ m not sure if "memory", the way you describe it, is a sign of "good filmmusic". Rather than "resurrecting a sensation or a memory (or both) that you had completely forgotten about", "good filmmusic" (maybe) should produce a feeling that itself BECOMES something (a memory) that will be remembered in future times when you see, hear, smell or taste something and SUDDENLY remember the mood of a film that you watched several years ago! That´s what happens to me at least sometimes when I see a picture or hear some kind of music or even smell something and suddenly remember the atmosphere of OHMSS (or even The Avengers)...

 Posted:   Nov 12, 2007 - 4:21 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

Evocativeness and appropriateness are probably the words.

Of emotion, of situation (including time and place.

But remember that, even as one agrees with Thor about film music being a worthy 'stand-alone', to be good film music it need other gifts:

to be a propellor of drama, to cosmetically cover bad editing, to compensate for what isn't on screen in any department, to underline what needs underlined, to signal dramatic climaxes and rhythm.

But if you want stand-alone music, then you're talking about every classical criterion minus sonata form. Even with non-classical forms. Namely rhythm, melody, harmony and orchestration, plus poetry if lyrics are ever involved.

 Posted:   Feb 18, 2008 - 9:45 PM   
 By:   Agent Norman Newman   (Member)

*bump* any of the new users have anything to add?

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