Film Music

I chose to review an articleThe Aesthetics of Film Musicby Roy A. Prendergast because he takes a detailed look at five broad areas about what music contributes to a film. In this article Mr. Prendergast looks at ways music creates atmosphere which adds color in a musical sense, the colors of the film are created by the use of different instruments and genres of music that gives the film it’s atmosphere, using it’s locale like “Alfred Newman used street songs and hurdy-gurdy music in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” is one way music is used to create color and add a dramatic effect to the film.

Throughout this article Mr. Prendergast makes reference to the many stylistic integrations used by composers in set pieces to add color such as using folk songs, street cries and the such to join stylistically with the overall music in the film. Using stylistic parody is a coloristic device that is somewhat cultivated in film music, only a few composers are capable of doing stylistic parody. It seems that most film composers stay away from using complex line and structure to avoid competing with the dramatic action. Mr. Prendergast states Music can be used to underline or create psychological refinements–the unspoken thoughts of a character or the unseen implications of a situation.” Meaning that music can show the psychological element better than dialogue can, and play on the emotions of the audience which composers are given little chance to use.

It was pointed out that the composer Leonard Rosenman said that ”film music has the power to change naturalism [in films] into reality”, that music creates a supra-reality of which the “elements of literary naturalism are altered giving the audience different insight into the motivations and behaviors. Also the background music is there to fill the empty spots and underneath the dialogue. Music can also develop a sense of continuity in a film and tie the film together, when used right music can build the dramatic effects and intensity to make scenes stronger, but music can also be inappropriate in some films.


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