Saturday, August 15, 2015

Ideal classical music for film?

English composer William Walton said this of film music:
"Film music is not good film music if it can be used for any other purpose."

He was excused from military service during the second world war to make music for war propaganda films and drive ambulances.

He was not enthused with the music he made for the film 'The First of the Few'. However his 'Spitfire prelude and fugue' became immensely popular and he extracted it from the film to release it as an orchestral piece. (Spitfire was called the most famous plane of World War 2)

He found his film music boring but critics found his Spitfire prelude as one of his finest marches!

Interestingly, a critic called the prelude "a patriotic, resounding piece of good orchestration; simple in construction, it makes ideal film music".

Not ideal praise if you ask me. Simple in construction? Yes. You may close your eyes and identify it as a march, the rhythms and the spurts of wind instruments aiding your observation. As for being called ideal film music, that comes from the simple construction. After the opening militaristic spurts, the prelude has an identifiable melody line throughout.

Why is simple music ideal film music? Probably because it doesn't distract from the action on the screen.

However, complex classical music has been used effectively in films. And to great effect. You will discover this in the clip posted below.

Whether simple in construction or not, music ought to fulfill its role of connecting people to a thought, an emotion, idea, or provide reflection, dreams -- in short, play a spiritual role. I wrote in 'Your soul is classical',
"Your soul knows music.
It connects with emotions of life that classical music espouses."

Whatever the medium, good music must espouse emotions of life.

To end, here's a 'not simple' classical music example from the popular film featuring war, 'Apocalypse Now'.

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