Anyone else tired of wall-to-wall music in movies?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Dick, Apr 29, 2006.

  1. Dick

    Dick Producer
    Supporter

    Joined:
    May 22, 1999
    Messages:
    6,312
    Likes Received:
    2,332
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Maine
    Real Name:
    Rick
    Didn't used to be that way, except perhaps for animated features. Now, it's unusual for there to be twenty minutes of footage without music of some kind, be it "incidental" or orchestral score. I love film music (well, good film music), but I am tired of directors who try to manipulate our every emotion through music rather than good writing or acting. I thought, for instance, that there were some lovely themes underscoring THE PERFECT STORM, but James Horner is so omnipresent that it became sensory overload long before the storm even hit. I love contrasts. I love what effects silence can bring to an audience if it's pulled of correctly; and bursts of music when appropriate, but Hollywood's reliance on music is way-y-y out of control!
     
  2. Kevin Hewell

    Kevin Hewell Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2003
    Messages:
    2,227
    Likes Received:
    122
    Trophy Points:
    1,610
    Hasn't it been that way since the early days of sound, though? I've watched plenty of old movies that have music in nearly every minute of the film.
     
  3. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2002
    Messages:
    13,238
    Likes Received:
    898
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    Malcolm
    Actually while watching "The Odd Couple" (1967) the other night, I had just the opposite thought. There is so much dead silence in that film; I think the only music is the Odd Couple "theme" that appears 3 or 4 times.

    By the time it was reprised for the fourth time, I was practically screaming out loud for an actual score.
     
  4. Francois Caron

    Francois Caron Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 1997
    Messages:
    2,143
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Francois Caron
    Music is just like any other element in a movie. You need to add just the right amount. Put in too much or not enough, and you have problems as has been described. Too many filmmakers simply don't understand that music is an integral part of the script even though the notes are not written alongside the words.

    As an example, Sergio Leone is a filmmaker who understood the importance of accompanying music. When he made "One Upon A Time In The West", he already laid out the music in the entire movie. The music was actually played back during shooting to get the timing just right. Just as important, he also knew when to turn the music off and let the surroundings speak for themselves such as in the introduction where all you hear is amplified environmental noise.

    It's a hell of a balancing act. And very few filmmakers really know how to do it right.
     
  5. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2001
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I remember seeing Meet Joe Black in a double feature with the Star Wars Episode I trailer. A bit of a weepy, really, but it wasn't so much the total film that got to me. It was the score, out in front, directing me to assume various emotional responses, when the film, as a whole, didn't really merit them. It wasn't as obviously manipulative as say, Dancer in the Dark (a film which embraces the concept, and in doing so, makes it seem like art), but it was clumsy.
     
  6. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2001
    Messages:
    17,994
    Likes Received:
    2,374
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Albany, NY
    Much as I love him, it's John Williams syndrome.
     
  7. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2003
    Messages:
    707
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Kids movies are sometimes guilty of this. I remember thinking that Stuart Little had too much music.
     
  8. DavidPla

    DavidPla Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2004
    Messages:
    2,357
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think the case may also be made that sometimes music SAVES a movie. For me, music can make basically 50% of the film.
     
  9. Mark Kalzer

    Mark Kalzer Second Unit

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2000
    Messages:
    443
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    ^ ^ That's true. Some have said that Lord of the Rings would not be considered half as great if it were not for the great score by Howard Shore, but of course, even he and Peter Jackson had a grasp on how powerful the presence of no music can be at specific points.

    My feeling is that music can enhance the emotional feeling of a scene, but the emotion has to come from the performances first. It becomes manipulative when the music seems to try to dictate to the viewer what the emotion of a scene is when nothing on screen lives up to it. I definantly remember this about 'The Perfect Storm' even though I only saw it once years ago.

    'Mission To Mars' is another great example, which has dramatic expressions playing at all the wrong moments. Another syndrome I find especially grating is when in 'scary' movies (I put quotes around scary for a reason) you have this character wandering around a 'creepy' room aimlessly. The music however is telling you, no hammering into your head that this is supposed to be creepy and scary. Sad thing is I have sat in a movie theatre next to someone to whom this effect actually works on, and I could only turn to her and say that the only reason she thinks something scary is going to happen is because the music is telling you that. Nothing on screen is even remotely scary, and so it is up to the music to do all the work. It seems to be effective to some, but to me I find it overly manipulative. I'm referring to movies like 'The Grudge' and 'Dark Water' for this.

    I cannot help but think the creepy effects would be stronger without music. I find in student filmmaking that too often the idea is to have music everywhere, but as a learning filmmaker myself I tend to shy away from that because I find the wrong music totally kills the tone of the scene, and that I have not yet the resources to put in music I feel is appropriate. I have been told by other student filmmakers (without formal training I might add) that I need to put more music in, but in my opinion, I'd rather have no music then the wrong music there.
     
  10. Nicholas Martin

    Nicholas Martin Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2003
    Messages:
    2,683
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0

    You dodged a bullet that time....
    I almost misread your remark as an insult against James Horner.

    I am glad you know well enough to understand that a composer has nothing at all to do with how much music you hear in a film - that decision falls on the director and sound editors. Being a Horner nut, and therefore having just about every score he's done, hearing the music in a film can be a very different experience than on a soundtrack - take ALIENS, for example. On album it is a suspense score that evolves into a militaristic horror/action piece. In the film, it is a random, chaotic jumble - all because Jim Cameron and his sound editors thought they knew better. It still works, but is a horrible misrepresentation of how the score really sounds.

    Too often composers are blamed for these things - too much music, too little music, too many uses of the main theme, not enough....blame the freakin' director and sound editors. They have the final say on what you hear in the finished film.



    Thumbs up to you for being a Perfect Storm music fan! [​IMG]
     
  11. Nicholas Martin

    Nicholas Martin Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2003
    Messages:
    2,683
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Another example of what I'm taling about is "The New World" - Terrence Malick, for whatever reason, decided to replace parts of Horner's score in the final mix. If the composer had any say in these matters, their scores would never be rejected, replaced, edited with a meat cleaver, etc.

    I guess if a director and composer have a long-standing trust, like Spielberg and Williams, such issues probably don't arise often.
     
  12. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Producer

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2001
    Messages:
    3,218
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I used to like the Jurassic Park theme. Now, it brings up memories of a certain figure skater.
     
  13. Qui-Gon John

    Qui-Gon John Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2000
    Messages:
    3,527
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Good music used even almost completely thru a film, doesn't bother me. What I don't like is when they use regular, (contemporary), songs and then have them so loud it drowns out everything else.
     
  14. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2000
    Messages:
    8,896
    Likes Received:
    238
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    John
    If this is a problem for you, I suggest delving into more independent film. There are many movies made every year that don't have this problem. I tend to believe it is the old "more is better" philosophy and that most average movie goers expect to be told how they should feel at every moment. I even see some "critics" use this as a negative for movies, saying "how am I supposed to feel about this?" when the story doesn't dictate to them how they should react.

    Endless scores are expensive and independent films tend to not have the budget, so they have to use other means. For an especially good example of sparse score, try In the Bedroom.
     
  15. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Messages:
    11,441
    Likes Received:
    672
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    Deadmonton
    Real Name:
    Russell
    I actually came on to post about this very subject. The constant non-stop score in movies is driving me nuts. I don't mind a commercial song or score during an action scene or montage, but the constant score, intruding over every spoken line of dialog, with little gimmicks to try to manipulate the audience, is quite frankly insulting as a movie watcher.

     
  16. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2000
    Messages:
    8,896
    Likes Received:
    238
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Real Name:
    John
    Once again, all movies today are not like this. Far from it. Stay away from vacuous blockbusters and you will discover that.
     
  17. DavidPla

    DavidPla Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2004
    Messages:
    2,357
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    This is where each movie should be judged on their own merit. What works for "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network" doesn't necessarily work for "Lord of the Rings" and "Star Wars". The genius of "Dog Day Afternoon" is the feeling that you're right there alongside everything which is why the movie works perfect with as little music possible. But take away most of the music from "Lord of the Rings" and, while still probably a great film, a lesser one.

    I think the amount of music used in a film depends entirely on the film itself. Some films work perfect with "wall-to-wall" music while others work perfect with little music as possible. I don't think there's a formula to follow... just what works best with the tone and story you're working with.
     
  18. Mark Kalzer

    Mark Kalzer Second Unit

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2000
    Messages:
    443
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    hmm...I wouldn't accuse Lost of having wall to wall music, they use it sparingly, and use silence very effectively. I do agree that a great number of X-Files shows after the first season used an almost excessive amount of music.

    One score in particular I have problems judging though is 'The Truman Show'. No doubt the score sounds fantastic, and it is pretty much 'wall to wall' music. Is it intrusive? That is difficult to say. It really does help to convey a far deeper meaning to the film then just the surface theme of fake reality on TV.
     
  19. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2004
    Messages:
    28,552
    Likes Received:
    5,207
    Trophy Points:
    9,110
    Location:
    The basement of the FBI building
    If you listen to any commentary or read any interview with any XF crew member, the person will almost always say how much Mark Snow's score added to the show and how much they enjoy his work.
     
  20. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2000
    Messages:
    8,967
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I am currently watching S2 of the X-Files and while music is certainly omnipresent, I can't say it bothers me. It's nicely atmospheric.

    The music of Lost is fantastic and far from omnipresent. It is one of the highlights of the show. Addtionally, I am currently watching Veronica Mars, the Sopranos and 24 on broadcast and only the latter features constant music. The rest is at the spare end of the spectrum. Limited sample I know.

    In the end, I can't agree with the OP on the prevalence of wall to wall music. I will side with John Rice in that many indies and much of european films feature minimal scores.

    --
    H
     

Share This Page