Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My film music memories

The only cassette tape I still own today is the Harry Potter OST. It also happens to be the first
tape I ever bought, at the very first time that I went to a music store. I was about 10 years old.
After watching the Harry Potter movie for the fifth time, I wanted to stay in the magic world
even longer by emerging myself in its music: I put it on in my living room when I was cleaning
up the house and imagine I was flying with a broomstick. I played it on my iPod at school
thinking that I actually went to hogwarts and studies magic potions in my chemistry class. I fell
asleep with it dreaming about getting letters from snowy owls the next morning. I was listening
to it all the time that at one point, I could quite precisely match specific music with their
corresponding scenes. I was getting familiar with how melody, harmony and rhythm could
somehow represent mood and tone, and I even developed an early understanding of the
orchestra, such as how different combinations of strings, brass and percussions could create
various textures. my repeated listening, was not only due to my enthusiasm for Harry Potter the
movie, but also due to the fact that a sole audio experience triggered all my senses and allowed
me to run with it using my own imagination, in other words, day dreaming.
At the beginning I was especially fond of films in the genre of fantasy and adventure, such as
Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Pan's Labyrinth, and Tim Burton and Steven
Spielberg films. Films in this particular genre are quite often character-oriented and thematically
complex;the plots often involve a a hero of humble origins and a clear distinction between good
and evil. The according music compositions are oriented similarly as well. Each character has
his/her own unique music theme, which I could recognize right away and remember. I enjoyed
how music can enhance and embody narratives and characters and I admired the beautiful
creativity the composers have. However, as I grew up watching more HollywoodS films, I
realized the predicability and limitations of Hollywood films as well as their music. I opened
myself up to alternative cinematic modes, such as early Japanese cinema, contemporary video
art, with a focus on the unique soundscapes and music involved.
Later as I studied more about sound design and composition from Michael Chion's Audio Vision
book, especially after I have put what learned into practice by editing/designing sound in my
own film, I started to hear/perceive film soundtrack in actual different "tracks", or layers,
comprised of dialogues, sound effects, diegetic sounds, atmospheric ambience, cues, and film
music scores. When I watch a film, unfortunately, I sometimes get distracted when I
subconsciously recognize certain sound techniques, say a cool musicalized sound effects, or a
good transitioning from a diegetic sound source to a non-diegetic one. The good thing is though,
this doesn't necessarily take away my whole "day dreaming" experience while I just listen to the
film music track alone. Every once a while, I still take out my Harry Potter tape and put it on in
my car and simply enjoy the John William style music cherishing the magic of film music.

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