Aaron Copland Film Music Analysis

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The composing process most often comes towards the end of the production, after the movie is fully filmed. Because of this, composers have the unique task of adding their interpretation and plot to a film after the actual narrative is already complete. Some composers choose to merely enhance what is already in the movie, but others choose to create their own stories for the characters that they then edit into the film via the soundtrack. According to Aaron Copland, there are five primary uses for music in film: to give a more convincing atmosphere of space and time, to refine the underlining psychological aspects of a character like his or her unspoken thoughts or the unseen implications of a decision, to serve as neutral background filler, …show more content…
For instance, a jazzy bassline, saxophone, and relaxed piano combined in the right manner evoke the image of film noir and detectives, while the combination of a cajón, steel drums, and an ukulele sounds distinctly beachy. Some of these themes are cultural, born out of a specific area’s instruments and styles, but many such themes came from movie music. Composers needed a way to musically “set the scene” so throughout the early days of film music they relied on slight variations of the same themes to try to create a consistency across their …show more content…
Within the first few moments of the movie, composer Michael Giacchino establishes a musical theme for the character of Ellie. The theme plays faintly for the first time as Fredricksen first sees Ellie, but it quickly cuts off. The theme plays in its entirety for the first time when Ellie places the badge on Fredricksen, and then it disappears until she shows him her adventure book. In the next five minutes of montage the theme plays almost continually throughout the scenes, shifting in tone as Ellie and Fredrickson hit milestones in their lives. Even though the first instances of the theme in the movie were all happy, the theme is contrasted against fairly heart wrenching imagery in the montage, like when Ellie finds out about her miscarriage. As Ellie dies at the end of the five-minute montage, so does the theme. In the rest of the film Ellie’s theme only occurs twice, but those two times are two of the most emotionally significant moments of the film. The first occurrence is when Fredrickson is about to give up, but he finds the adventure book and sees the photos Ellie placed in it, and the second and last occurrence is at the end of the film, when Fredrickson gives Russell Ellie’s badge. Although those two scenes are objectively happy, they are two of the biggest “tear-jerking” moments, primarily because of the established emotive context of Ellie’s

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