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Man in the Forest – SHORT – Director Ajit Dias – In Progress
Cross – SHORT – Director Vincent Miller
Sentieri Sulle Aque – feature – Director Francesco Russo
Strays – SHORT – Director Jaylin Pressley
Caretaker - SHORT – Directors Ashley McCann and Guillermo Areizaga
The Lost Boys – SHORT – Director Randy Memoli
Santa Maria – SHORT – Directors Dean Chen & Jason S. Lee
Lemming – SHORT – Director Ajit Dias
Coming Home – SHORT Director Matthew Jenkins, Matthew Jenkins Productions
KAKURI – SHORT – Director Kaila Shields, A McFadden Production
Being – SHORT – Director Christine Knowlton
Il Gioco É Fatto? – feature – Dir. Francesco Russo, Master Movies, S.r.l.
Mudgrave at the Beach – SILENT – Director Nic Pearson, Matthew Krist Productions
Paper People – SHORT
Butterflies – documentary
Helmut C. Calabrese, PhD
February 22, 2020
Why You Should Hire A Film Composer
An Analysis of Using Music Libraries
Filmmakers need to be educated on why they should hire a composer. This essay explores the various issues related to the necessity of hiring a composer to create an original score for an original film.
Let me start by quoting an Icelandic filmmaker,
“I believe that the main reason that every filmmaker who appreciates their work, whether it be a short, a time-lapse or a feature film, must hire a composer is because only the close collaboration between director and composer will create the perfect synergy between images and music. The right composer will be able to see what you want to communicate or express through your images, and they will compose an exclusive piece that adapts precisely to your film generating in the viewer a feeling of perfect synchronicity and balance” (Pacheco, 2020).
Mr. Pacheco states that “the director and composer will create the perfect synergy between images and music.” Synergy is defined as “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate parts” (Google, 2020). We need to understand the elements that comprise the interaction of film and music. However, because of the vast nature of the fabric of both film and music, we will only discuss some of these elements. And we can address the aspects conjointly. A partial list of these elements which are inherent to both film and music are as follows: rhythm, movement, form, context, psychology, color, texture, and referential meaning.
The uniqueness of a film derives from its script which encompasses the visual element and literary element. The “storytelling” becomes an outgrowth of these elements. Therefore the music that is appropriate for a film’s uniqueness must be inspired by the creative filter of the composer and director by using sound to represent what is seen in the motion picture and what is heard in the contextual dialogue of the characters if there are character actors in the film. All of the film’s elements are translated in sound of the film score. Therefore, the idea that a director will use preconceived music that was conceived not from the specific film but from a general ideological description using generic terms as “horror, funny, romantic, epic, suspenseful etc. contrary to creating the “synergy” that Mr. Pacheco is promulgating.
However, we still need to determine that vision of the director and how the director wants to use music in his films; in order words, how does music function in his film? There are many answers to functionality of music in film all of which can be administered in either a pseudo-music or in an authentic specifically created music for the film in question. I consider the decision and use of music library music as pseudo-music because it was created apart from the destination film. And when it is “pasted” on to the film, it represents the lowest level of musical abstraction that manifests itself on a motion picture that demonstrates a “horror” or any other genre terms. This music library music is completely counter-intuitive to the nature of the film. Library music manifests a contradiction of the deep level contextual sonic and auditory level of the story. The famous saying in the United States is, “you get what you pay for.” When the director chooses to use music in a synergetic function, music library music fails to be an authentic referential representation of the film. We will not, in this essay, discuss the use of music in its function to portray images with the use of songs as heard in the film Pulp Fiction by director such as Quentin Tarantino and many others.
When the director chooses to have music composed specifically for his film then the we find an authenticity and synchronicity created by this symbiotic relationship. This synchronicity, which is created by a multiplicity of sonic and visual events of which this paper does not intend to address. My next essay will address what happens when the director hires a composer and creates an original score.
Pacheco, Enrique. “Why You Should Hire A Composer.” www.enrique.com/why-you-should-hire-a-composer/. Accessed 18 February 2020.
Google. Definition of Synergy. https://www.google.com/search?q=definition+of+synergy&oq=definition+of+synergy&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l7.4207j1j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8. Accessed February 22, 2020.
Copyright © 2020 Helmut C. Calabrese. All Rights Reserved.
Helmut C. Calabrese, PhD
April 14, 2020
Temporal and Spatial Perception in Film Music
“The presence of music in film is illogical and paradoxical on several grounds” (Cohen, 2013).
Why do we need music in film? The film does not have an orchestra that part of the visual image nor does the film show the cameras and crew that appear in the audience’s vision. Nothing that represents the production of the film is manifested in the motion picture. Yet, the creation of a motion picture, has over the course of more than a century, adopted evolutionary processes that ameliorate the gesamtkunstwerk—total work of art. We have reached a point of scientific cognition where we recognize the human brain translates audio/visual information into semantic meaning. This essay explores temporal and spatial perception in motion pictures in a non-empirical examination. In this essay, the words sound and music are used interchangeably.
Since art manifests life, creating the gesamtkunstwerk is a natural process of the filmmaker’s vision. Motion pictures allow us to represent life, to record life, and to encapsulate life in a time binding manner (Korzybski). What are the elements of reality? Answering this question furnishes us the data necessary to understanding how reality is represented in motion pictures as it has evolved to its present state. From the still pictures, silent films, talkie films and films with music, at each level, the filmmaker takes what he believes to be elements of reality and “paints” them on the motion picture canvas.
The elements of reality are the phenomena that humans can perceive through their senses. We see, we touch, we hear. These senses are the primary entrance points to our consciousness, our human interfaces. If we are in room that is completely silent, completely dark, and we are completely devoid of any sensory information, we still recognize life because of our breath and thoughts. In this scenario, we can be totally centered on ourselves. Our perception of time is suspended, and reality as we know it from the extraneous world is also suspended. In this experiment, we are replicating life as it was when humans lived in dark caves. Our imbedded genetic memories process perceptual information when we experience levels of reality unconsciously. In this experiment, if we introduce a sound such as the air coming through the vents, our perception of time changes. The sound of air introduces a perception of time that was absent in total silence. Sound has temporality; it has the ability to begin and end. The “presence” that sound creates catapults us out of our dormant silent state into the “living” state. Music creates this “presence.”
How does film music create temporal presence? Music is a temporal art form. Music is formed by a sequence of rhythmic “events” that form it into a unified whole. Music utilizes several elements to create a sequence of time. One element is meter. Meter as pulse assists in the division of time to force the entrance, anticipate and delay sounds. Anticipation in music can mirror anticipation in motion picture’s character movement, camera movement, lighting, and speech. Sound creates the bridge that allows the audience to make the “ontological leap”(Heidegger) that is necessary to complete the vicarious “audio visual contract” (Chion) which they accept by engaging in experiencing motion pictures. When words fail, and our sight deceives us, sound enlightens our path to perceive reality. The ability of sound to create a perceptual structure such as anticipation adds to the gesamtkunstwerk.
Another example of the human, environmental and camera behavior is the repetition. The human may manifest repetitive thoughts and movements. Sound/music can instill in the audience the emotive power to replicate repetitive phenomena. Sound/music can utilize an ostinato to create this “presence” and engage the audience to participate emotionally through the use of the ostinato sequence.
Motion pictures are spatially two dimensional. But human sight is three dimensional. Sound/music adds this depth through its unique properties.
Cohen, Annabel J. Film Music and the Unfolding Narrative. “Language, Music, and the Brain,” edited by Michael A. Arbib. 2013. Strüngmann Forum Reports, vol. 10, J. Lupp, series ed. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 978-0-262-01810-4.
Korzybski, Alfred. Science and Sanity. Institute of General Semantics, Englewood, NJ, 1958.
Heidegger, Martin. Poetry, Language, Thought. Perennial Classics. 2001.
Chion, Michel. Audio Vision. Columbia University Press. 1994.
Copyright © 2020 Helmut C. Calabrese. All Rights Reserved.
Helmut C. Calabrese, PhD
The Healing Power of Music
The Chinese have, for thousands of years, believed in the healing power of music. Music allows our minds to enter into an invisible world of sound that can be referential (Heidegger) or not. But that's not the issue for us now. How sounds can help our brains to post messages of peace and order to our synaptic pathways could be a starting point. The power of music to allow us to free our brains from the bondage of words and start traveling on the road of pure sound fortifies our primordial nature in such a way that words can not translate the language of music at the deep structural level of our brains. Freedom from words, freedom from thoughts, freedom even from visual images and, for that matter, from our senses except hearing is that which can allow us the existential leap into a sonic universe wherein we can find healing because our temporal consciousness must also be suspended so that the "time binding" (Korzipski) humans that we are can be free from even this basic human nature. Our nature must become one with the nature of sound for healing to occur.
Copyright © 2019 Helmut C. Calabrese. All Rights Reserved.