straight down the line

Music makes my heart go boom boom boom

Music tells you what emotional response you should be having towards the current material you are viewing or listening too. That’s why when I watch scary movies I often cover my ears. If you can’t hear the jumpy horror music then it is not as scary when something pops out. Movies use music to let the audience know when they should be feeling empathy, or sympathy, or when you should be angry or scared. Without music cues a great deal of visual material would be relayed in a way the producer had not intended.

For example, watch this youtube video first with the volume off (there is no dialogue in this video just music):

Now turn the volume on:

If you hadn’t heard the music, would you have known that it was a sad story? If this same video had been set to cheerful music would you have had a different reaction? Would you feel more uplifted?


Another prime example is the soundtrack to Jaws:

There is no music until about 1:37, this music clues you in that something bad is about to happen. When the music really starts picking up in pace it makes your heart beat quicken as well. Music not only creates an emotional response but can, in some circumstances, creates a physical one as well.

Same thing in this noir film, Detour:

When I first clicked on this clip of this movie I immediately clicked to the middle of the video (@2:44) . I typically do this just so I can get a better idea of whats going on. I had never seen this movie before, or had any idea what the plot lines was or the ending. But once I heard the music, I knew something was going to go wrong. Music in noir films is often used to heighten suspense, or clue you in that trouble is afoot. Without having any knowledge of this movie I knew that she was going to die even before the video showed it, just because the music was making such an emphasis on him pulling the phone chord. What else could it be?

That is why music is so crucial when producing radio shows. Because you have nothing to visualize (especially actors facial expression and body language) and you are solely relying on music for clues as to what is going on, if there is no music often times what is happening in the radio show will either go right over your head or be interpreted incorrectly. Just like we heard in the ds106 radio show, the sound effects really helped us visualize what was going on, such as the footsteps.

In the “no-restored” version of Orson Welles Touch of Evil they decided to use a heavy theme song rather than amplify the sound of the busy street. It gave this version of the opening scene a more cynical feel. Like something big was about to happen, almost like the characters in the car were up to no good.

In the other version of Touch of Evil these particular producers decided to amplify the sounds of the street over the theme music. This gave the opening scene more of a light-hearted feel. I could really grasp how busy everything was and how much was going on off camera. I did not suspect mischief from the two characters in the car nearly as much as the “no-restored” version.

Leave a Comment