Of all the movies that you watch, do you ever think about the soundtrack? What exactly is the soundtrack? It is the music that accompanies the film. Whether it be the song that plays in the opening credits, the songs that the characters may sing in a musical, or the background music that plays behind the scenes, it is the lyrical structure that makes up our favorite films.
Now you may think, how hard could it be to put some music behind a movie? On the contrary, is one of the most challenging aspects of the film that directors face. Not only does the music have to set the mood for the film, it has to be an active expression of what is going on right on the screen. Conductors and musicians have to watch hours of film footage to get the feel for what is truly going on, before they can even think about writing score for what they see.
When soundtrack music is done well, it allows the feelings of the movie to live on after the patrons have left the theater. Good music will bring the feeling of the big screen back to a person’s mind as soon as they hear the music. One of the most famous examples is John Williams scores on the Star Wars movies. Just hearing the music that accompanied some of our favorite scenes brings back exciting feelings even if are just listening to the music. It takes great skill to be able to put the film and the music together in such a way that they become one.
To this day, when I hear any Star Wars music, I can recall the exact scene it came from and the warm feelings I got from watching that very scene. I can be walking down the street or even doing laundry and I will feel as if I was right back in the theater.
Many established musicians try their hand at soundtrack work and find it is much harder than just playing for an audience. A song by itself has its own meaning and feel, but a song that goes with a film has to synchronize the mood, feelings, and emotion of what is happening in the storyline. They find it is much trickier than they had imagined. But, it can give a musician a chance to broaden their horizons and try something new. Many people that are played in bands for years start to feel a little stagnant, and this gives them a chance to explore their creative boundaries in another element.
If an artist is lucky there will be a crossover affect. Their music will work seamlessly in the film and be a success in that aspect, but the song may also do well on its own and be a hit as a standalone song.