Musing on Movie Music

I don’t think it’s Friday anywhere in the world, but I beg your indulgence because I missed my Friday Favourites post and I have some favourites to share.

The other night, I went to the girl’s school Music Festival.  They are very into the arts at her school and they have an orchestra, a concert band, a stage band, a brass ensemble, a percussion ensemble, a guitar ensemble, two choirs… you get the idea.  Hence, a music festival.

It was very good.  No, really, it was enjoyable.  It’s a credit to their music teachers that attending these events is much less painful than you might expect.  And they played an extraordinary variety of music, from the latest rap thing (himself did not enjoy it, but I quite liked it) through Burt Bacharach to Tchaikovsky.  And it got me thinking about music.

Specifically, movie music.  They played a medley from Titanic, which was something like this one:

Close to the beginning of this is the section called ‘Take Her to Sea Mr Murdoch’.  And sitting there, in a fairly cramped auditorium at an Australian high school in 2012, I was instantly transported to the sight of the Titanic setting sail in the movie.  And I didn’t just see the visual in my mind’s eye, I felt the swell of emotion, as well.  The pride of all the people responsible for getting her under way, the glory of her size and newness and the swelling hopes of the people going to the new world for a new life.

It was an extraordinary experience and brought home to me yet again how powerful good movie music can be.  I suspect some of the emotion, if not most, engendered by my initial experience of the movie was from that wonderful music.  You don’t (unless you’re a professional musician or composer I imagine) notice it particularly as you are watching the movie, but it is an integral part of the movie experience and without it the experience would not be the same (what this means for writers is a separate blog post: come back Monday for that one 😉 ).

So I thought I’d share some of my favourite movie music with you.  The Titanic soundtrack is one.  It was written by James Horner, who also wrote one of Himself’s favourites. Braveheart (among almost literally countless others.  Looking as his credits, one wonders if he sleeps).

I could not write a post about movie music without touching on (and it is the merest touch) the extraordinary achievement that is the music for the Lord of the Rings movies, by Howard Shore.  We own the extended versions on DVD and now that we have watched them several times, one of my favourite games is picking out how the various themes are woven into battle scenes and other group scenes.  The snippet I have chosen to feature here is one of my favourite individual themes, that of Edoras, the home of the horse lords, of Rohan.  Even if you don’t want to see the movies (and I understand that LOTR is not everyone’s cup of hot beverage) at least listen to some of the music some time.  It’s quite wonderful.  If you’re interested, this bit is from The Two Towers, the second movie.

(On a random, writerly note, how cool would it be to write a movie big enough to be scored by Howard Shore?  Fangirly writer fantasies revealed.)

This post is already long and could go on forever.  But since it’s already late up, I will wind up with the man I could not possibly leave out of a post about movie music: the legendary Ennio Morricone.  This snippet is Gabriel’s Oboe theme and the main theme from The Mission a glorious, majestic, heartbreaking movie, made more so by Morricone’s amazing music.

So, while you’re still with me, what are your movie music favourites?

16 thoughts on “Musing on Movie Music

  1. Yes to all the above, but also big love for the soundtrack of THE LAST MOHICAN which I just *adore*. All that drama, all that emotion, all that ‘I will find you…’ *sigh*

    Music absolutely makes a film. I have once in my life sat through a film before the score was added and it was so lifeless. Ugh.

    • Oh yes, that’s another favourite. I’m fascinated by ALL of the clever people that are involved in making a movie ‘finished’. The foley and sound-effect people are also so important. I find the process endless fascinating!

    • It was lush, wasn’t it? I’m sure that’s one of the reasons it ‘looked’ so gorgeous. Also love Harry. Some great themes in that too. I should play the theme spotting game in those too. We have all of those movies as well.

  2. A few years ago, I went to see a Titanic exhibition in San Francisco. The exhibition was made up as the visitors were entering the actual ship. There were real relics, clothes, shows, luggages of real people who boarded that ship. The music of the era and the atmosphere was engulfed with emotions. The rooms were recreated as they were on the real Titanic and we could hear voices of people. At the entrance every visitor received a note with a real person’s name who borded the ship, with his/her history. Before exiting the exhibition, we could checked on a board if that person survide or not. My ticket corresponded to the name of an Irish seamstress, who was going to the new world with 4 kids and no husband. She survived and her kids didn’t.
    I will never forget that day, that exhibition and the re-enactment of all that happened on that ship.

    • I know what you mean, Valentina. We had an amazing exhibition visit Melbourne too – maybe it was the same one? They did the same thing with the tickets. The first time I went I was a first class woman and I survived. The second time I was a second class man and I died. The bit that got to me most was seeing a jacket from one of the first class waiters. It was almost intact – hardly rotted at all – and I could read his name written inside his collar. He was only about 17. It really brought it to life. I will never forget it either. I think it must be amazing to be a curator of something like that.

  3. I love the scores of most of the movies mentioned above plus many others. Who could go past Moon River in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Kate and Leopold? I’m even a convert to Muse after the Twilight movies. Speaking of which–true story: my daughter, a muso and composer in the making (she’s at the Melbourne Conservatorium now) had been to the first Twilight film. For Xmas, I got the soundtrack of it as one of her pressies; her first comment on playing in–what is this music? She’d been so caught up in the movie, even a muso like her wasn’t really aware of the music playing on that first viewing.
    What a long way we’ve come since the old silent movies with the live pianist playing mood music according to what s/he saw on the screen!

  4. Pingback: Lights, Camera, Action: or how movies can make you a better novelist (and revisions less painful) | Wine, Women & Wordplay

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