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Old 06-22-2018, 05:05 PM   #1
peacemaker
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Function of song in non-musical films

1) What should be the function of song in non-musical films? A couple of reasons I could think of is, to show character's emotions or to voice their inner monologue(?). What other things it can do?

I am talking about songs that are specifically composed and recorded for the movie. For example, 'Raindrops keep falling on my head' in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 'Moon River' in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

2) In non-musical films, most of the time, songs come during the opening titles or end credits. If it comes somewhere in the middle, like in the above 2 examples, who makes that choice? Do the writer specify it in the script (not the lyrics, just the placement) or the composer/director/producer decides it?
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Old 06-22-2018, 05:20 PM   #2
mlesemann
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In my 2nd feature, DETOURS - https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3625136/reference - we used both songs and score to support the mood and help move the story along. None of it was written into the script (I'm the screenwriter and producer fyi).

We had a singer/songwriter compose and perform a song for our end credits - we gave him the script as we were going into production and he wrote something that went with it beautifully.

We also reached out to many singer/songwriters and got permission to use their songs. We used them as diagetic music in some cases (on the car radio). In other spots, we used them to accompany driving scenes that are a component of road trip movies. Emotion was always paramount.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:11 PM   #3
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A perfect example of a song written specifically for a non-musical film is "Toy Story."

In "Toy Story" You've Got A Friend In Me sets up the entire film, Andy's relationship with Woody, and bookends the film as the song now refers to Woody's relationship with Buzz.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:14 PM   #4
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1. Emotion
2. Pace
3. Story
4. Glue (it bonds everything together)
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Old 06-24-2018, 05:56 AM   #5
BazTheHat
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Glue is a good one. You can have a montage of video clips showing a progression (kids getting older, a road trip, whatever) and all those clips can be quite disparate and disjointed from each other. But a cool song over the top can make it seem like a deliberate and whole segment.

I'd also suggest music can be used as a juxtaposition - Clockwork Orange is an example. Fun music over disturbing violent scenes.
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Old 06-24-2018, 03:32 PM   #6
Rayandmigdalia
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I'm reminded of the television shows that started with songs to fill us in on the back story, such as the "Gilligan's Island" theme. My wife has always written a song for each of our films, to be used over the opening credits or the end credits. An example would be our latest film, "CAUSE OF DEATH: HOMICIDE", for which she wrote a song for the openng credits. Here it is if you'd like to check it out. (click here) . Part of the song is under the opening credits and part is under the end credits. You can watch for free.

Last edited by Rayandmigdalia; 06-24-2018 at 11:04 PM.
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Old 09-30-2018, 11:00 AM   #7
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Idea

Michael Isaacson explained 4 ways in which music is used in films, which I find very useful to keep in mind:

1. Music linked to the action (to what's happening)
2. Music linked to the location / time period (french music for Paris, medieval music for a medieval castle, you get it)
3. Music linked to the characters, usually reflecting their emotions
4. Music linked to the sub-text (the most interesting one!): In his own words, "While the plot answers
who, what, where, when, and how, the sub-text provides the all important context of why."

Hope I'm not to late for this
Nice topic!

Alex
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Old 09-30-2018, 03:55 PM   #8
Feutus Lapdance
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To show a connection in mindset between characters or people

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Old 10-01-2018, 10:09 AM   #9
The Tune Peddler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex_Guy View Post
Michael Isaacson explained 4 ways in which music is used in films, which I find very useful to keep in mind:

1. Music linked to the action (to what's happening)
2. Music linked to the location / time period (french music for Paris, medieval music for a medieval castle, you get it)
3. Music linked to the characters, usually reflecting their emotions
4. Music linked to the sub-text (the most interesting one!): In his own words, "While the plot answers
who, what, where, when, and how, the sub-text provides the all important context of why."

Hope I'm not to late for this
Nice topic!

Alex
I've never heard this before. Nice post. Thanks for the heads up.
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Old 10-01-2018, 11:13 AM   #10
Alex_Guy
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Thumbs Up

Happy to help! I always find useful to keep this in mind while composing, and lately while searching for stock music for other people's videos. Makes a difference!
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Old 10-04-2018, 06:06 PM   #11
peacemaker
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex_Guy View Post
Michael Isaacson explained 4 ways in which music is used in films, which I find very useful to keep in mind:

1. Music linked to the action (to what's happening)
2. Music linked to the location / time period (french music for Paris, medieval music for a medieval castle, you get it)
3. Music linked to the characters, usually reflecting their emotions
4. Music linked to the sub-text (the most interesting one!): In his own words, "While the plot answers
who, what, where, when, and how, the sub-text provides the all important context of why."

Hope I'm not to late for this
Nice topic!

Alex
This is very good information. Thank you.

Actual question that was asked was "What is the function of song in non-musical films?" Please see the first post. As you are a composer, it would be more appropriate to ask you, what is your take on this?

Thanks.
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Old 10-05-2018, 04:51 AM   #12
Alex_Guy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peacemaker View Post
This is very good information. Thank you.

Actual question that was asked was "What is the function of song in non-musical films?" Please see the first post. As you are a composer, it would be more appropriate to ask you, what is your take on this?

Thanks.
I think this "method" of 4 ways of using music in films is also applicable to the songs you refer to. For example, you said, "A couple of reasons I could think of is, to show character's emotions or to voice their inner monologue(?)". I agree with that, and that would be way nš3 of the 4 ways I explained: linking the music to the characters.

So it could also be linked to the action, the location/era and the sub-text. However, I think that when music is used this way in non-musical films or series, it's usually to reflect the characters and their inner world and/or the subtext in a poetical and emotional way. I see that in the episode endings of some series, as a way to summarize an idea present in the plot of that episode (eg "Grey's Anathomy", if I don't remember wrong). Cool thing of this is that, as opposed to the traditional background soundtrack where there's not a singer, these songs have lyrics that can add an extra meaning to it all.

I can also imagine that sometimes it's used mostly for commercial purposes, to sell that song as the soundtrack of the movie or even to use it to promote the movie. When properly done, audiences love this because a strong relation between the music and film is made in their minds while watching the film, and later every time they hear the music it reminds them to the film and to what they felt while watching it. It's a powerful tool!
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Old 10-06-2018, 02:00 PM   #13
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Thank you for sharing this valuable information.

I just came across this fine old song. Beautiful song. Beautiful lyrics.

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