Composing : A Theory of Film Music by Giovanni Bonura

Giovanni Bonura

A Theory of Film Music

Australian musician/critic Dan Golding made a response video essay to" The Marvel Symphonic Universe" video posted 2 days ago in this lounge by Barak have to take a look at it!

Jonathan Price

I agree, I think the argument that the temp can be blamed for the lack of non-thematic music is pretty weak. However, the original video tried to make a point about how NLE contributed to the hyper--imitation of the temp. It didn't make it very well, but the counter that temps have been around forever doesn't acknowledge the affect of NLE on temps. Having worked through the transition from linear to non-linear editing, I can say that non-linear editing made the temps a whole lot better, and new music became a lot more imitative than it had been. Before NLE, temps had to be cut in with mag tape, which was cumbersome and expensive. Music editors and directors usually ballparked the sound, which gave the composers/studios a general idea. But, outside of a Kubrick film (and a few others), it wasn't perfect. And nobody had the time to keep slapping up miles of mag tape to perfect it. That was the composer's job: take the ballpark sound and make it work to picture. When NLE came along, editors could blast through 50 temp scores for a scene in an afternoon until they got exactly what they needed, and then cut to that. By the early 2000's you had temp scores that fit previews like a glove, which hadn’t generally been the case. Now the composer's job was to closely imitate, but also to unify the various temp soundtracks, so that they all sounded like they came from the same movie. If temps had been as good as they are today, Chinatown wouldn't have gotten thrown out, because there would have been no surprises at the recording. So, yeah, temps have always been around, but the degree to which they are copied now is much more meticulous than it used to be. As far as blaming this on non-thematic music, I can think of one argument: that is, nobody is going to temp a film with a recognizable theme. One of the main purposes of a temp, besides giving the composer and the studio an idea of what the director wants, is to have a score for the preview audiences when the studio is gauging audience response. You won't hear Star Wars temped in any preview, because the preview audience would recognize the music and start to laugh. The temp needs to fool a preview audience into thinking that it's a semi-legit score, so that they can respond the way they would if they were a paying audience. Generic scores are great for this, because preview audiences won't associate them with another film. So, that's the only connection I can think of between hyper-imitation of temps and thematic music. But I think the argument that directors simply don't want something as old-fashioned as a melody is much more persuasive.

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