What exactly, does music contribute to film and its emotional aspects? Well, music holds a massive influence in shaping the film experience, manipulating emotions, point of view, and managing the perceptions of characters, moods and narrative events. Music itself is symbolic in language. It communicates emotions through sound instead of using the spoken language. The purpose of this paper will be to investigate the role in which music plays in conveying emotion within film, while supporting the argument that it is one of the greatest sources of emotion in film. This will be achieved by studying various other works, that will help in further explain why this is so.
Music, virtually always accompanies film. Hegel said that music in film is an absolute necessity while Zizek interprets it as a necessity in the form of contingency. It is predominantly made up of symbols in the form of sounds consisting of pitch, melody, rhythm, tonality, harmony and timbre. All of these components are implements used to present musical concepts and project emotion. There might not be a precise formula as to which sounds produce exactly which emotional response, but there is a long history of devices and empirical techniques originally learned from both trial and error in conjunction with observation and study as to how best to elicit a psychological response in the mind of the listener.
The major requirement for film music has been that it serves the purpose of the picture and is effective in fulfilling the director’s vision. It can be used to enhance the plot, reflect the theme and enhance the mood. It can help pinpoint the dialogue and it can also, at times, surpass the spoken word in conveying psychological elements. A good musical score can also underscore the theatrical build up of the action in a scene and add to a sense of suspense and drama. But to do this, it must relate to the action on screen.
Music also helps to draw the audience into the world of the characters. It can assist in filling the gaps in the continuity of the action and can also help put the audience emotionally in the setting. As sound designer David Sonnenschein puts it:
“The intent is to guide the audience towards an unambiguous identification with the feelings of the scene.”
So, it can go as follows that one of the major functions of music in film is to provide emotion. It is much, much more than telling the audience what to feel in any given situation.
To put it into different words, the key purpose of film music/scoring is not as much to project emotion, but instead, to reflect it. In order to do this, music must create certain subliminal nuances within the audience. One could even say that music functions to intensify or relax the pace of the action, and provide unity.
“Music can create a more convincing atmosphere of time and place.”
Film music can be at its most potent with expressing the invisible or unseen:
“The third function of film scoring is when music...