Composing : Can A Dialogless Film Evoke? by Joel Irwin

Joel Irwin

Can A Dialogless Film Evoke?

We all know the importance of body language in a film and how when acted properly and supported by the crew (not just music, but among others the cinematography, directing, wardrobe, etc. - to name a few), can evoke significant emotion in the audience. It's a team effort and everything has to be 'just right' to get the intended result. As we know, the music has to support the action of the film and if we do our scoring with that in mind, the audience may not even remember the music. Interestingly I was just reminded of that with one of my own scores. Now I am not 'tooting' my horn here and the link below is given to demonstrate my comments and points (and not promote). I wrote a commissioned 'waltz' for an adult dance studio in 2013. Later on in the year, I used it in a '48 hour music video competition'. The way it works was that a film maker would pick the video and have 48 hours to create a 'music video' about it. The only instruction I gave him Friday night was that the film needs to 'have a plot' and 'reek from emotion'. I had some plots in mind but I didn't tell him anything more. What David Nguyen did was totally different from what I had in mind and blew me away. The film was shot Sat afternoon and finished by 9 AM Sunday morning. Now technically this was a music video but there was no band and the genre was not rock, pop, country, or any other genre typically used for music videos. I personally consider it more of a film short without dialog than a music video (though the two may actually mean the same thing). The point here is that since the action of the film was written to the music instead of the other way around, one would think its all about the music. In fact, when you watch the film, two things typically happen: (1) the viewer almost always forgets about the music and concentrates on the action and the story and (2) certain scenes evoke strong emotions. The body language from the excellent acting, the storyline (remember there was no dialog), the cinematography and the other components all blend and support the actors. Anyone that watches it walks away with something. I tear up every time I watch it at a certain spot. That is what makes a film powerful and a score supportive. Even though the music was written first, it really made no difference - it could have been written last. That is our goal as composers. We are part of a larger team which has among other things a goal to impact the viewer in some way. Elegantia competed against 8 other teams (all with bands in the video as the normal convention is). It won the competition in Houston and then went on to compete at "Filmapalooza", the international competition representing Houston. It placed second in awards to Paris. It's success is due to (1) high quality of all the components and (2) no matter how many times you watch it, you will 'get moved'/have a reaction. If you choose, watch it for yourself and judge. (1) did it evoke any emotions? and (2) after the film is over, did you remember the specific music or did it manage to stay out of the way of the action even though the action was based on the music? BTW - you don't have to have a full orchestra to get the job done. The ensemble in this film was much smaller - piano, violin, viola, cello, standup bass and percussion.

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