Public Forums | HANSON | Recent CBC News: The National Interview, a part that I loved



An interview by CBC News with Hanson was posted on Youtube recently. Towards the end of it is a part of the discussion that I just loved because it hit on a typical argument, particularly with film, that has always bothered me: Discrediting the importance of emotional impact from a soundtrack:

How often do you hear: "Well, it was the soundtrack that added the impact not the [dialogue/performance/setting]." Like writing off the importance of music to communicate internal, human experience is an acceptable argument, as if a soundtrack is somehow not valuable as a translator of general moods and intensity of some human experience, compared to an acting performance? 

Does this common (and I'd say shabby!) argument about the role of music in film and plays ever bother you? 

People sing lullabies to their babies to soothe and communicate love. Music has been shown to inexplicably allow those suffering from assumed, permanent memory loss to recall experiences from their past. People have sung through war, famine, slavery, protest, at weddings, birthdays, funerals. We sing to worship, to pray, to communicate gratitude, to communicate infatuation; we sing to celebrate the beauty of a life lived, with those we love, while they're on their deathbeds. Musicians played as The Titanic sank. 

Playing instruments and music found from the past allows us to collapse the distance of time into a sense of a perpetual present. We can sense the vibrations, feel the universal emotions of the continuous, shared presence of being human, that string of humanity throughout time that we are all part of, one moment connected (perhaps overlapping) with the next. 

Right here, right now, we take a stand against this stale ol' position about the alleged inferior value of soundtracks! Compared to what? Says who?! 



I can't imagine watching a film without a soundtrack to help draw you into whatever mood is being conveyed onscreen.  People who leave the theater before the end credits often miss some wonderful music, too.  

That was a great interview, by the way. Thanks for posting it!



Eeek, YES. How many times have we heard the old complaint: "Well, people only cried/laughed at the scene/movie because they were emotionally manipulated by the soundtrack."

Firstly, no kidding. There are internal experiences humans try to communicate to the outside world that often can't be described, they can only be felt to be understood and music is this weird thing that is able to transmit the experience of an internal feeling to other people; the swelling of love, thump of fear, steeliness of determination. You feel these things like a polyphonic explosion internally but how do you communicate that experience for a film, a piece of art? Music. 

Maybe I can't communicate through other means, the almost supernatural eeriness of intense, creative inspiration when it happens, the slight fear that you might be a vessel for something else and God, help you maneuver the territory (because I'm convinced the "valley of the shadow of death" is dazzlingly beautiful and journeymen/women beware! Predatory beauty hypnotizes before it pounces) but I can direct you to the "String theory" version of "Something Going 'Round" to communicate what it feels like to experience that weird sensation. And I don't know how else I could have -- nor did I ever think I'd get the opportunity to point to a song that can explain an experience that's already, frankly, hard to explain. No other medium is quite as effective in translating the drama of the internal as music is. 

Secondly, even if you're going to accept the premise that there's something wrong about music in film impacting your experience of viewing, of understanding what you're seeing onscreen, can it really be manipulation if you know what you're getting into? Some people talk about soundtracks like they're drugs the audience doesn't know they're taking. 

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