The Power of Music: an Experiment in Film

This is where the music happens. When it's not happening on the computer, that is

Everyone pretty much agrees that music can be extremely potent.  I’ve been moved to tears on multiple occasions (and not even because of hormones, haha).  People have playlists for working out, playlists for yoga, playlists for a bad mood, a good mood, cleaning, and anything else you could probably think of.  Music can move us.

Film can also move us.  I’ve been long interested in film scoring.  An exceptional score can elevate a movie from good to epic (I’m thinking the Empire Strikes Back).  It can transport us to the world of the film, evoke an emotional response long after the charm of the movie has faded (now I’m thinking My Heart Will Go On).

A lousy score can ruin a viewing experience, dragging the movie down into the abyss of mediocrity.  I can’t even think of any examples; they’re that forgettable.

This idea came to me just the other day:  What if I took the same repeated video footage, but placed a drastically different soundtrack behind each repetition?  It sounded like a really fun project, so I compiled some video clips of my erev Shabbos kitchen activity, wrote some music with my Finale program, and with my old-school low-tech Windows Movie Maker program, I created three different “feels” for the same mundane film.

Here it is:

How do the different soundtracks affect your perception of the film?  What feelings do they conjure?  Also, what’s your favorite score of all time?  Or favorite song? 

28 thoughts on “The Power of Music: an Experiment in Film

  1. the first sounds exciting and bubbly, the second depressing (like something bad is gonna happen) and the third – pure tranquility and peacefulness (not like what goes on in my head erev shabbos, but kinda what i wish it would be like). i even heaved a deep sigh of relief, while you were rinsing the bowls ;)
    amazing that you could do sooooo much with music using the same footage.
    kol hakavod!! thank you!

        1. It is! I was referring to the line “amazing that you could do sooooo much with music using the same footage.”

          Should have been more clear.

          This video is incredible, Rivki! I would love to use it as a prompter for my high school class. Would that be ok with you?

    1. Haha! The second one is definitely ominous. On the blog’s FB page, someone made a comment to the effect that the second one made my knife rack look seriously dangerous. Music really is amazing. I had a lot of fun doing this.

  2. I love it! I just recently was watching a cartoon with my daughter, the dvd got stuck on one image and kept looping the character moving out of focus with 3 notes playing, over and over. It was so ominous after a couple of repeats, even though it is for children and there is no hint of malice whatsoever! Music definitely makes such a difference to people’s attitudes and perceptions. Half the fear and suspense created in horror films is from the soundtrack.

    Personally, I love anything by John Williams or Hans Zimmer. Half my soundtrack collection is for films I’ve actually never seen, but the music is oh so good.

    1. I can just picture the cartoon! John Williams is quite talented, though I must say that he has taken somewhat liberally from the classical canon (Howard Hanson’s 2nd symphony in Star Wars, Dvorak’s New World Symphony for Jaws). I still very much enjoy his work. I’ll have to look and see what Hans Zimmer has done. I like Danny Elfman. :)

      1. I don’t know those classical pieces, so I wouldn’t even think that. Now I’ll have to look them up. Danny Elfman is good also (I have 3 or 4 of his). So is For a beginning Zimmer-listener, I recommend the second track on The Rock soundtrack, the first 2.5 minutes. Or the 3rd track on Gladiator. Very heavy pieces, but also kind of upbeat. I find his stuff very… um… well… think intensity mixed with tenderness. It’s like that. A Beautiful Mind soundtrack was amazing – peaceful music mixed with suspense and slight notes of danger, but overall relaxing. It’s hard to quantify in words.

  3. What a great idea! Thank you for engaging us once again in a meaningful way that incorporates my 3 great loves, music, humor and cooking. hahaha jk about the cooking….

  4. This is so great! Bless Renee for leading me here. You’ve demonstrated the power of music so wonderfully – I was creating a backstory for each snippet, each so dramatically different from the other.

    Well done!

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