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Friday, July 29, 2011

The True Secret Behind Writing Music for Film or… Silence and Meaning

It seems that in today’s world of film more and more filmmakers try to force emotional drama on the viewer. Rather than taking the time to collaborate with the set crew or develop plot transitions with tension and beautiful cinematography, one usually gets spoon-fed a series of over-baked, wimpy snippets of music that completely shatter the purpose of a film’s meaning. Don’t these people ever consider working with other artists involved in the production?  If you’re tired of constantly having your film experience ruined by loud, inappropriate, or out of place music you’re not alone. Here’s an insightful excerpt from Polish composer Zbigniew Priesner on the creative relationship between music and film. It’s taken from the companion disc to the film The Double Life of Veronique (1991).
[“We must always keep in mind that the truly creative work of a film involves each of us creating the film while knowing that in the end there is a director, and even more importantly, a story. We contribute what we feel we should give of ourselves to [a] film. This would seem obvious, but nowadays it’s really not. Nobody talks about this today. When I try to speak about meaning with directors and producers, they really don’t get it. A composer writes music for a film, and in my opinion, it’s the function and role of the composer to add something the audience doesn’t see: the atmosphere of the film. It’s very metaphysical…
When I write music… I take into consideration not why to have music and where it goes, but why I should write it and what purpose it serves. Should it be some kind of narrative or anticipation? Or should it reveal something we don’t generally see but can feel?
There are twenty-two minutes of music in The Double Life of Veronique. There was mainly silence throughout, but this silence echoed loudly. Music introduced us to the mood, and silence was a respite from it. The silence meant more than the music. Today, in movies where music plays from start to finish, you never notice any variation. If there’s a short-break you think, ‘thank God, a breather.’ And then, it starts up again!
Directors and producers have no faith in their films. They don’t believe the story is strong enough to be told using music as one of the various means of artistic expression, as art, not just as a kind of wallpaper…[Film Director Krzysztof  ] Kieslowski used to say, ‘For what’s different to seem different, there has to be a difference.’ ]


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