Spotify Playlist of the Week

Michael Quick

“In the Movies”
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What with the Oscar’s coming up this weekend, I thought it’d be interesting to assemble a playlist of famous pieces that are featured in movies. Film music is a unique animal; it’s not something that a lot of people think about when they go to see a movie, and yet it can really make or break a film. The music sets the mood for every film and helps the audience to understand how characters are feeling, emphasizes specific plot points, cover up certain audio issues that can’t be fixed “in post,” and serve a whole host of other functions. Without the music, movies would be vastly different experience.

You can’t talk about film music without bringing up John Williams, the composer for such classics as Jaws, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, and of course Star Wars. While the most recent movie in the Star Wars saga left a lot to be desired musically (Williams seemed, much like the writers, to draw a bit too heavily from the original film), his themes did exactly what they were trying to do: transport the audience to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. George Lucas’ vision for Star Wars was to be a “space opera” and without Williams’ score I doubt this would’ve come across half as well. The think that I think really sets the score for Star Wars apart is the heavy use of brass instruments. This gives the movie added grandeur and splendor by harkening back to music that one generally associates with royalty and the medieval period. So that takes care of “a long time ago” but what about “in a galaxy far, far away?” This is where I think Williams goes above and beyond. He takes this seemingly antiquated instrumentation but throws in some more modal and, dare I say, spacey melodies.

Music even existed when the movies themselves had no sound. They hired musicians to play along with the film. That only goes to show how integral music is. These two arts go hand in hand.