Our hero declares his love. The music swells. They kiss. And all’s right with the world.
If that movie trope replaced the sound of the swelling music with the sound of crickets, it just wouldn’t be nearly as romantic, would it? Music has a way of evoking emotions in us. It’s really rather fascinating when you think of it, that all of us (in western culture, anyway) pretty much have the same emotional responses to various types of background music. Because all it is is sound. How do we link feeling to it? Where is that point of connection, exactly?
I used to have a side gig captioning movies and television shows. (It was kind of fun, actually, but the pay was horrible. That’s why I quit.) Because of that, I pay very close attention to the work of other captioners. “I wouldn’t have done it that way,” I sometimes think. People don’t realize how much flexibility there is to that job. But the other day I was kind of amused when a captioner wrote “Poignant music” as a description.
I mean, in context, it made a lot of sense. But in reality, if you are deaf, how would you imagine a soundtrack to the word poignant? Even for those of us who can hear, does any particular music pop into your head when you read that word? And yet most of us, reading that while watching the movie, would get the point.
Another fascinating nuance to this topic is that the music in a lot of movies is generic, and created long before the script is ever written. There’s a whole category called Production Music or Library Music that is kind of one size fits all as the situation requires.
For example, a production music company may ask a musician to give them something upbeat and suitable for industrial documentaries. And that’s all the notes these musicians get. Or perhaps they’ll ask for something western themed, or fight scene, or what have you. And from that, they compose, and we hear and respond appropriately. It kind of makes you think about how easily our emotions can be manipulated.
If you want to enter a whole new world, I suggest you go to Youtube and do a search of Library Music. It’s really rather fun and can take you to a lot of unexpected places. At least emotionally.