The mysteries of film music
It is said of film music that it replaces the classical music which is no longer listened to (Gabriel Yared). It is said that it is unfortunately only wallpaper (Igor Stravinsky). It is said that it should ideally be able to listen without the film for which it was created (Alexandre Desplat). It is said that it can transcend a good movie, but that it cannot save a bad movie.
It could make a pedantic flam if it was too complex, and conversely, Hans Zimmer wipes criticisms that his music would be too simple. But why the hell did he sign more than 150 scores ?
Some consider it a genre apart (“it’s film music, that’s fine”). This limit evokes, alas, half words, and I deplore it personally, a sort of relegation to a supposed subgenus. Film music is not in my eyes (or in my ears) a sub-category of music, a sort of simplistic make-over.
So, yes, maybe the film industry is in a full swing, and budgets are shrinking ; no doubt also the availability of advanced technologies, unimaginable 30 years ago, disrupts the established order (so much the better for me, I hardly know the musical theory !), And maybe even it impoverishes the musical pool. Yes it’s possible.
All this deserves our attention, but should not distract us from the essential : the composer of film music is above all a specialist of the narrative, who uses a formidable art to serve a narration. Its mission is to push the subject further, to give life and body to the characters, to carry even, if it happens, the viewer beyond the wildest hopes of the director and its producer.
Faced with such complexity, and also such power, directors sometimes embrace film music and make it a magnificent tool, and sometimes also they fear it and push back the moment when, alas! recourse to a musician.
Anyway, film music comp… heu sorry, music composer for films is a formidable job, and I wish you a good visit !
Michel Duprez is a Belgian-based film music composer, passionate about theater and cinema. He is also an actor and improviser at the Ligue d’Improvisation Belge Professionnelle.
He is a member of the Belgian Screen Composers Guild.