TEXTURE +  DENSITY + PRODUCTION



Structure:  Foreground | Middle-ground | Background

  • Monophony
  • Homophony
  • Melody
  • Accompaniment
  • Polyphony
  • A-melodic



NARRATIVE SPACE


Level of narration (implied or spoken)
Level of sound in the screen world




DIEGESIS

Under determination of sound (ambiguity)
Allowing the viewer to listen (Randy Thom)


POV SOUND:

  • Sound match
  • Sound bridge
  • Mickey-Mousing (1928 Steamboat Willie)
  • Sweetening
  • Audio dissolve (musicals -- Robert Altman)
  • Voice-overs (American Beauty = dead narrators)
  • Acousmetre (Michael Chion - acoustical being; i.e. off-screen character)



UNDERSCORING:


(Literal) under dialogue
(Figurative) an emphasis on movement


TEXTURE = INSTRUMENTATION CHOICES (i.e. palette)

DENSITY = NUMBER OF INSTRUMENTS (ex: 140 piece orchestra v. single violin)

PRODUCTION = ENHANCEMENTS + EXPANSIONS (i.e. microphone choices, re-amping, outboard gear, software modifications and enhancements, etc.)


BENDING TIME USING MUSIC & SOUND


Transitions:

  • Sound Bridge, hard cuts, soft cuts (continuity editing)
  • Sound Advance (hear a sound before we see source)
  • Sound Lag (sound persists; ex. -- Goodfellas)
  • Sound link
  • Sound match
  • Synchronization (Singing In The Rain)
  • Generic sound


ADR

  • Overplaying ("ear over eye" - Erno Rapee)
  • Contrapuntal: Counterpoint (playing against the film; ex -- Casablanca)
  • Failure of synchronization
  • Emotional distance of sound from image (anempathetic)
  • Neutrality


PLAYING THE DRAMA


  • Audience expectations?

  • DON'T tip the story!

  • Choose a POV


Main titles offer an opportunity to:

  • Set the tone
  • Define a movie
  • Suggest drama before it occurs
  • Foreshadowing v. revelation? 



UNDERSCORING DIALOGUE

Support drama without killing it:

  • Voice overs are difficult to understand
  • Smooth textures are less intrusive
  • Stay out of voice range
  • Accents & solos are distracting
  • Avoid extreme high and low frequencies
  • Don't overwrite
  • Play the overview
  • Play true to the scene
  • Get inside character's feelings


De-emphasizing a scene can also work:

  • A massive cliché, maybe, but in this territory, less IS more

  • The sound of silence can emphasize drama:

  • Highlighting is important

  • Red Herrings v. Sabotage (i.e. overuse)

  • Accenting dramatic plot points needs restraint, or risk wearing out the audience.

  • Scoring a film like a ballet is a common comparison.

  • IGNORE picture and music should become another character.
  • Bernard Herrmann perfected this approach (Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver


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WHEN TO USE MUSIC?

The obvious: Finding the right moment/starting point/entrance IS crucial.

A successful outcome for A-list composers often boils down to their approach when considering:

  • Starts & stops in the action to trigger/cue music
  • Start at moments of shifting emphasis
  • New emotional emphasis/subject visual emphasis with camera
  • Camera movements
  • New action
  • Reaction shots


Musical Cues and The Art Of Catching

  • Stingers v. Mickey Mousing
  • Tailing Out
  • Soft Cuts
  • Bridges & Interludes
  • Leitmotifs & Themes


FILM v. TELEVISION

  • Composing fees
  • Spotting
  • Underscoring
  • Tailing out
  • Texture & Density


Film skews orchestral and acoustic:

  • An orchestral palette is "timeless" or culture-neutral
  • TV skews electronic and groove oriented:
  • Synthesis is cheap



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COMPOSER'S WORKFLOW

  • Meet with studio/filmmaker
  • Screen cut available
  • Screenplay, storyboards, dailies, rehearsals


Spotting Sessions:

  • Assessing coverage, workload and compensation
  • Working for credits (i.e. resume building)
  • Ignore details
  • General needs & placement
  • Film’s effectiveness
  • Emotional impact for audience? For composer?


Determination Of Tonality:

  • Temp tracks
  • Research
  • Period & Pageant
  • Cultural significance
  • Film genre


Voicing The Picture:

  • Texture = Instrumentation
  • Density = Number of instruments
  • Production = Effects + Design
  • Samples & Loops


Composition and creativity:

  • Melody
  • Harmony
  • Rhythm
  • Complexity



​FUNCTIONS OF MUSIC


GENERAL:

  • Mood & Atmosphere
  • Comedy
  • Drama
  • Plot unification
  • Title sequences
  • Adaptations


SPECIFIC:

  • Diegetic v. Non-diegetic Considerations
  • source music
  • irony and counterpoint v. ironic counterpoint
  • foreshadowing v. red herrings
  • stingers
  • time


Manipulation of Time, Tempo and Pacing:

  • BPM and Editing
  • Action v. Camera
  • Establishing era or cultural/civilization development
  • Montages
  • Time Dilation



MUSIC SUPERVISION


  • Historians v. Technicians
  • Cash-box v. Art


The Death Of A&R (And Rise Of The Music Supervisor):

  • Multi-tasking
  • Studio/artist deals
  • Recording artists and recording producers
  • Compilation-Soundtrack Deals
  • Coordinate movie studio's interests with record company's interests
  • Artist schedules and movie release dates
  • Artist schedules and recording studio schedules
  • Trailer music and advertisement
  • In-house publishing interests
  • Screening of dailies
  • Screenings prior to spotting
  • Attend spotting sessions
  • Attend scoring sessions (sometimes produce)
  • Liaison between composer & director
  • Liaison between music producers and executives


Kouderay