Saturday, September 5, 2015

Film Scoring Using Point of View: Part 2



The majestic "Kilconnell Abbey" is perhaps the best preserved Franciscan Friary in the world, the oldest portions dating back to the 6th century. Located in Kilconnell, East Galway, Ireland, to this day it serves as a living monument to the community and is a direct link to its history.

For me, it was also the perfect backdrop of a bit of fun.

As previously mentioned in this blog, as part of my UCLA film composition classes, I always discussed "Point of View" (POV) as a major compositional choice when approaching an image.  If you have not seen the previous post, you may want to read that before continuing here.

As an addition to that earlier post, and to illustrate another use of point of view, in this film, I took the same video and scored it two ways; both ways are comedic, but each is vastly different from the other.

In the first instance, I chose music that takes the POV of the "uninitiated observer." The audience hasn't a clue as to what is really happening in the video so they look to the music to tell themselves how to react to what they are seeing . In this case, the music is saying there is danger everywhere.

The sweetness of the toddler's face and the title ("Terrible Twos") lets us know there's no real danger in the Abbey to the child, and actually, to many this music might make us fear that the danger is reversed. The suspense in the music says, "What is the kid going to do to the Abbey!"

The humor is drawn from how over the top the music is and how uncomfortable it makes us feel.

In the second version, the music is much lighter and fun. The POV of this music is of the "omniscient observer;" it's a direct interpretation of what we are seeing with full knowledge of its context.

With this music, we all see the video for what it is: a cute kid riding his tricycle up to the Abbey to go exploring - perhaps with a bit of mischievousness in his heart but certainly no danger. The humor isn't "ha ha" funny, it's just a light-hearted chuckle.

Which musical interpretation is better? Which is more valid?

We as film composers constantly struggle with this concept. How much do we telegraph the film's context in the music? When is writing funny music against a funny image killing the funny? Where is the line between writing scary music that inspires fear versus scary music that inspires laughter? It's in answering these questions that the art and craft of film scoring separates itself from the art of simply writing great music.

Like this post?  Check out my other music tech posts!