Movie Soundtracks: The Most Emotional Form of Music?

There is a lot of music out there, and a lot of vocalists sing about grief. Yet, I propose that movie soundtracks given the right context can stir something in you other music just can’t. 

I love movie soundtracks.

I think they are fantastic for background music or to listen to in their own right. They never fail to rally, sadden, rouse or move me, I think they are one of the most emotionally strong forms of music you can buy… and this is why.

Movie’s have become such an huge commercial success, that as their production values rise so inevitably do the values of their OST’s (original sound tracks). You get full scores of classical musicians, famous pop artists and a whole range of talent nowadays contributing to the overall effect of a motion picture.

Yeah, there are men like Bon Iver out there who will never escape his cliché of log-cabin abandon to create one the most moving albums ever heard, and I have to admit that I’m a huge fan. As am I of other mediums, most notably classic music which would probably be the main rival to my point. Classical music has the privilege of social pedigree and a medium which can also be purchased to be used on movie soundtracks. But for now I will try and stay focussed on OST’s.

What OST’s benefit from is a context in which to create their music. I’m aware you could say this of any musician who composes his music after loss or other emotions but in most cases they are recorded and to some extent, composed after the film has been edited (an exception I am aware of is Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys) which then puts them in the hands of masterful directors who have knowledge of pacing and prelude. And then it’s not as if these two artists do not collaborate; with the benefit of two industry experts (and not forgetting the talented musicians themselves) we have a genre of music that can make a connection with the listener like no other.

I love movie soundtracks.

Notable Examples:

  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • The Fountain
  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Tron Legacy
  • Star Wars Saga
  • The Skin I Live In
  • Requiem for a Dream

Talented Composers:

Please leave a comment with your favourite soundtracks, or non-soundtracks songs and prove me wrong!

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Don’t Be Creative, Be Passionate

Now, don’t take the title too literally but consider this. Don’t come up with ideas because they are different, nurture them because they matter.

Hey Guys,

I hope everyone is having a good Monday, I wanted to write a post today for people who work in creative fields. Followers of this blog will know I’m a student, and so perhaps speak with a certain sense of optimism, but I feel my point here today is applicable to anyone looking to develop any kind of creative work.

This idea came to me yesterday, when after spending the weekend working on a couple of separate projects, I ditched them. I realised that I didn’t really care about these ideas, and I was developing them as a priority above my other work because I thought they were pretty avant guarde. Except they weren’t, they were crap. One I will admit, just needs a lot more development if I’m ever even to consider picking it up again in the future, but the other one is my primary example for this post.

Flying horses. Nay. Flying Toy Horses. My idea was this: I picked up these plastic model horses about 6 months ago because I thought I could use them for a mini-project. What I eventually tried to do, was animate still images of them with the distortion pin tool on AAE; creating a super slo-mo sequence of them jumping off of stuff. I ran a couple of renders, still not 100% but prepared to keep an open mind. Yesterday I finished two test renders, they had immaculate masks and lighting effects so they look relatively believable. My animation was good too, the motion of the legs, head and neck being key to the movement of a horse. But then I watched them back, and yeah, technically they were ok, but I was hit with two thoughts. What does this mean? And Why am I doing this? 

I was doing it because no-one else had; I’d side-tracked projects that mean a lot to me because I was in a rush to stand out. That’s not how you create art, that’s how you create shite. I took a step back, saw what i was doing and abandoned the project. I’m now refocusing my efforts of two of my large projects. In particular, my dissertation project for my final year at university. It’s sometimes hard to work on because it reflects some personal memories and intimate relationships, but so far it’s coming out well and I have no doubt that when I finish it, it will be a triumph. The project is called ‘3 Hours’ and I will add a link here when I have finished rebuilding the promo page.

This post isn’t for self-promotion though, it’s a thought on how sometimes it is so tempting to try and stand out, we breach our own values of quality. Gimmicks aren’t respected and never deemed as classics. So take your time and create the fantastic, powerful work you’re capable of. Impress yourself.

Take it easy,

Matt  :)

Writing and it’s Relationship with Music

As a writer, should your primary source of influence always be from other examples of writing?

As an artist you should be able to admit, that music is amazing. It is a lot more self-contained than creative writing (poetry aside) and obviously film. The best thing about music is that it is a representation of emotion, even those dance songs you play on Saturday night. Personally, as someone trying to expand as a writer, I find myself skipping these Top 40 favorites and engaging significantly with classical music performances, movie soundtracks and acoustic soul-sapping encores. It is this music which I find inspires me, more so, in some cases than my favorite pieces of writing; this is an interesting thought, for if you want to write, you have to read right? Well what happens if you’re a writer who listens?

Needless to say, I’m listening to a medley of fantastic songs when writing this, bopping along at times or just pausing, mulling things over in my mind. My connection to music is probably as far from an ‘objective’ relationship as you can get. I care little for the persuit of new talent, I am literally of the disposition that if I hear something I connect with, I will buy it and listen to it endlessly. I mean, I have my fair share of rubbish on my iTunes, but when a song comes up that really makes you stop, that’s when I feel at my most imbalanced, stimulated and ready to write.

Of course, the problem with this approach is that it is incredibly subjective, not only in form but of course in content. Lyrics, melody and the countless other spectrum’s of musical refinement create such a variety of musical output that everyone is going to react a bit differently and in a lot of cases not at all. For instance, a lot of people I know will write with music playing in the background, I mean, I’m doing that right now, but it’s quiet and more or less lyric-less, this helps create an ambiance, a comfortable writing environment and yet this is still my limit. In truth I find music a distraction to objective writing, but the mood it envokes cloaks me thoroughly for a period of writing. It is this resonance that I feel when listening to music that I feel strengthens me as a writer.

I mean, is this a writing technique we should attempt to coin? Cinematic writing perhaps? Of course not, because if you want to convey something specific in tandem with music (and a stark visual image?) you might as well be a screen-write, right? Wrong. Personally whilst a huge fan of cinema, my connection to it is very similar to music, I don’t go to the cinema all the time but when I see something I enjoy, I will exhaust it until I feel I fully understand it and to some extent, can replicate it. Clearly then, I am someone who is forever buried in books right? Wrong again, because this article isn’t about defining myself as a writer, but defining writing as a process that is subjective to the individual. If I told you I loved watching films more than reading books and I wanted to be a writer, you’d scoff; at least I’d hope you would because I mean come on, that’s just stupid. However, if you can balance these mediums of storytelling (yes, music is a form of storytelling) maybe then you can create something original, maybe not.

Your primary influence in your language of writing will be your literary background, that I feel is somewhat unavoidable; however your writing style and written image can be highly influenced by the content you experience; which is where I draw my most significant distinction in this article. Because cinema and music are ‘experienced’, they help create mood, writing helps more to focus the skill of writing and paint this mood for others to understand. Maybe I’m wrong and I just haven’t read the right stuff, but I think if you want to create a detailed creative fiction, don’t just read books, do it all.

At the moment I am experimenting with non-linear narratives, stories that don’t always go in sequence (Like: 1, 2, 3) because I’m experimenting with form and I feel that by creating imbalance in the narrative timeline, you can create better enigmas and you, as the reader have to work harder to deconstruct the narrative. I read somewhere that the harder you work to understand something, the more you respect it, if I find out where that’s from I will credit it at the bottom of the article.

As for now, I feel I didn’t do too badly channeling my thoughts for a bit. Maybe I’m just one of these new-wave pretentious wannabe-different writers; I hope to god I’m not… but I’ve been wrong before. As for now I’m going to break away from my own introspective narrative and relax, because to drown in self-awareness would be a sorry way to go :)

If you liked this article please leave a comment below, thank you.

James Blake – Album Review

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Hey Guys,

So I figured I’d write up about James Blake’s new album, as I have listened to nothing else for the last week; maybe blogging will lift Blakes black-magic curse from my ears. Not that that’s a good thing.

Blakes music in short, is nothing short of… interesting. Now, an underwheleming opening line maybe, but it’s true. Blake experiments with classic genre conventions transform his music into an almost linear story-line experience which doesn’t have choruses and verses, just waves of thick, almost tangible baselines and beats.

Blake is not typical of most other electronica artists, in the way in which he implements ‘glitching’ and choppiness, almost sometimes, in detriment to the beauty of his songs. Blake can raise the level of intensity in a track to intrusive levels, perhaps to highlight turmoil behind the scenes of his incredible vocals. Vocals in which Blake’s voice cracks at it’s most heightened, unafraid to present his listeners with his apparent sensitivity.

Blake’s subject matter is unashamedly personal, with songs clearly identifiable about his mother and sister, others, just evolved wails of pain and haunting resonance. Blake sometimes understates his lyrics, by painting them on the canvas of his audio; letting percussion and vocals blend to create the song as a whole, showcasing neither one in particular.

Though Blakes album doesn’t flow track to track, each song in itself tells a story of it’s own, some with just repeated lyrics, focussing on perhaps a particularly memory of Blakes, others, extended streams of consciousness in which Blake beautifully vents into the microphone.

I really adore this album, however it may be officially defined. Blake blends his musical influences into a collection of songs that does not necessarily defy music conventions, but certainly manipulates them to create a sterling piece of musical performance that may just stay stuck in your head for weeks.

A fantastic album that I recommend you check out right now.

Download James Blakes self-titled album here.

Peace,

Matt  :)

Dad Life – HILARIOUS!

Hey Guys,

Here is a video called ‘Dad Life’, a funny rap spoof focusing on the playboy lifestayles of middle class dads, not usually in my general reposting bracket, but this is too funny and catchy to miss out on, check it out:

 

 

Peace,

Matt  :)

Tune.

Hey Guys,

This is an absorbing short film about the power of a catchy tune, and it’s journey between several characters. The low colour pallette complements to slow, methodical pacing of the narrative and though the script is very understated, it complements the sincere performances of the ensemble. This has fantastic production qualities for an independant project and it’s well worth a watch, check it out:

Peace,

Matt :)

Owl City – Of June

“With Friends Like These Well, Who needs Enemies?”

– Adam Young


Owl City is another one of those artists who sound like they’re a band when really, they’re just one guy; Owl City is the alias for pop/electronica artist Adam Young and I’m going to be looking at one of his older albums ‘Of June‘.

Young smashed into the public sphere in July 2009 with his world dominating single ‘Fireflies‘ and like most people I loved it. Unlike most people however, when I like someone I delve into their music bibliography and look at all the stuff they have done before and this is where I came across Young’s album ‘Of June’.

‘Of June’ is seven track album that has a very upbeat tone due to the nature of Young’s design process, what I mean by this is that Young seems to have forgotten that his keyboard can also play low notes as well. This sounds like a criticism and in a way it is, I just feel like some of his more sombre tracks would have benefited from deeper notes and a much slower pace. I’m no musical expert don’t get me wrong, but in almost every track you can hear a layer of beats that are high-pitched and going very fast, for me it’s a bit of a mood killer. On the other hand this does as I said before, lend a much more upbeat tone to the music and almost encourages the tracks to cross over into the ‘easy listening‘ genre. I’m not fully convinced that this was Young’s intention, but either way it does lend itself very well to this musical bracket where you can just loop the album in the background.

This leads me to my two most important points about this album, firstly: Homophones. This basically is a word that literally means ‘same sound’. The reason you can loop ‘Of June’ in the background is because all the tracks sound the same, Young’s creativity is not flourishing here which whilst serving dinner parties around the world great justice, does damage his credibility as a serious creative artist. Secondly: autotune; if you don’t know much about Owl City you may not know that Young sings in all of his own songs, pouring his voice out of a computer after hours of autotuned distortion. Just to be clear, autotune is where you digitally change the pitch of a sound, it’s a popular technique now used by rap artists such as Kanye West and T Pain. I may not be a fan of either those two artists but here Young actually uses the technique perfectly, making tones and notes last the right length at the right pitch in a very artful manner.

Overall then this is a good album; the upbeat nature could grind if you’re not in a very happy mood or maybe if your just older than 13. Personally though I do quite like it, it never deserved to win any awards and I couldn’t use any of the tracks in my design work, but if you put Young’s album on in the background whilst you’re getting on with some work or chores you’ll probably get them done with a smile on your face.

If you want to find out more about owl City click here.

To read my blog on Dntel (another electronica artist) click here.

Peace,

Matt  :)

Dntel – Life is Full of Possibilities.

“All the Courage and Talent You Have, Was Just in Dreams”

– James Tomborello

Dntel (an alias of James Tomborello) is an indie electronica/glitch artist, I’m going to be looking at one of his early albums ‘Dumb Luck‘ (2001).  The album is just five tracks long but on average each song itself lasts about five to six minutes, giving you more time to enjoy Tomborello’s synthy tones.

I came across Dntel when looking for ambient music for a short animation I was making, I never actually got round to finishing off the project but the pre-production research has now left me with a new-found interest in ambient music. Tomborello’s music is special because it is most likely unlike anything you have heard before; the best way I can think of to describe Tomborello’s tones is that they do not sound dissimilar to the sound you get in your ears when you put your head underwater. All work composed by Tomborello is created through his keyboard and post-editing suite, much in the same vein as other electronica artists such as Owl City.

When listening to Dntel’s album it is clear to notice that he favours female voices that lend themselves better the relaxed nature of his music. However in some songs (most noticeable in ‘Last Songs’) Tomborello deliberately ‘glitches’ his music track to make it jump and play in a seemingly erratic way; though this is actually done in a very acute way giving the music a very unique feel.

Overall Dntel’s album is a great listen, it will relax you and maybe even inspire you. I’m not going to use a star rating system for these reviews but just a verdict.

Go out and buy this album, it’s incredible.

To find out more about Dntel visit James Tomborellos website.

To see the video I used their track ‘Last Songs’ in click here and find ‘Three Things’.

Peace,

Matt  :)