What's new

Why Don't All Films Have Memorable Themes? Junkie XL answers

NoamL

Winter <3
I think his answer is good!

BTW I can still hum the theme from Deadpool and the emotional strings theme from Fury Road so he managed to get some themes in there ;)

IMO, just a general trend, older movies were more about capturing emotions inside the characters, and the edit was paced so that the movie would hardly work without music. The Leone-Morricone movies and Spielberg-Williams movies for instance. Newer movies are more about capturing characters acting and reacting, and the edit aims to tell the story by itself. I'm not saying new movies are fast and old movies are slow. Just that there is less for the music to do. IMO Guy Ritchie is a great director at capturing emotions and character inside of an action scene.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
I think Noam makes a good point about the editing -- something like 4-5x the number of edits in movies today compared with 20 years ago. Movies used to use "establishing shots" that might go on for 25-40 seconds, maybe a helicopter with sights of Rio or Hong Kong or London. During those scenes or montages, music stepped forward and really spoke about the tone of the movie or its characters, another point Noam makes.

Also, there is just "more story." A crime / caper movie today will have far more twists and turns than in former times. In that circumstance, music simply can't get in the way of what often is a huge amount of expository dialogue that is required for the audience to follow what's happening.

But I think the loss of melody has more to do with the attitude of the movie. Raiders of the Lost Ark invites the audience from the outset to suspend disbelief and take a trip back into some of the films of decades ago. The playfulness of the story can tolerate a level of old-fashioned-ness about the score. Picture "E.T." or "Out of Africa." Whether or not you like those films (or the issues they address and fail to address), there are deliberate moments when the director planned for music.

By contrast, a gritty slice of reality film, set in present day, simply can't go there. Any music with a whiff of Mozart -- high woodwinds playing melodies, V-I cadences or even V-I harmonic movement, modulation effected functionally -- all that makes people think "old-fashioned." In a negative way.

There are some great examples to the contrary, "The Road to Perdition" being one, in which music tells a lot of the story and there's not so much dialogue. Maybe that's because it was a graphic novel first?

It's an interesting topic.
 

gsilbers

Part of Pulsesetter-Sounds.com
I think his answer is good!

BTW I can still hum the theme from Deadpool and the emotional strings theme from Fury Road so he managed to get some themes in there ;)

IMO, just a general trend, older movies were more about capturing emotions inside the characters, and the edit was paced so that the movie would hardly work without music. The Leone-Morricone movies and Spielberg-Williams movies for instance. Newer movies are more about capturing characters acting and reacting, and the edit aims to tell the story by itself. I'm not saying new movies are fast and old movies are slow. Just that there is less for the music to do. IMO Guy Ritchie is a great director at capturing emotions and character inside of an action scene.
Thats a good point. Also junkies' point is good.
I also think that some directors try to get a specific sound for their movies which is what junkie says but the style goes along with the type of movie like you said. some movies do have more space to have the music develop and be part of that story.Others try to get a new sound for their new style of film. animation gets a lot more "classical" and so on.
back in the day
Also, there is just "more story." A crime / caper movie today will have far more twists and turns than in former times. In that circumstance, music simply can't get in the way of what often is a huge amount of expository dialogue that is required for the audience to follow what's happening.


It's an interesting topic.

Well, back then they TALKED a lot more about those twists :)
 

Svyato

Member
today with all the affordable technology for making music, the "sound" (finding a personal one) might be more important than finding a memorable melody.
 

Flaneurette

Active Member
I think it is because most movies aren't memorable these days. Music only supports it. Garbage in, garbage out. They have a common factor: Art, soul, the love and soul for the art and craft. Movies are pumped out from a factory line to make a quick dollar. It has become just another product. That is why J.S. Bach will last forever, and J.S. Bieber maybe for a decade (or when the money runs out). And I am not cynical.

Take Francis Ford Coppola's struggle to create the movies he made... he almost lost his sanity. He simply gave everything he had. His whole soul. The incredible amount of work, stress, blood and tears is why his movies will last for a very long time. And so does it's soundtrack and music, because I can bet that he demanded only the best. Nino Rota, for example.

A short anecdote:

After Francis Coppola spent nearly two years in the Philippine jungle making his $31million Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now, he wrote a note to himself, which his wife found. It read, in part:

“My nerves are shot—My heart is broken—My imagination is dead. I have no self-reliance—But like a child I just want someone to rescue me...”

Instead of abandoning his movie, he kept going, struggling in some remote Jungle, for a higher cause than himself. He just descended into a frenzied creative journey, that made a huge lasting impact.
 
Last edited:

Desire Inspires

To the stars through desire....
I think it is because most movies aren't memorable these days. Music only supports it. Garbage in, garbage out. They have a common factor: Art, soul, the love and soul for the art and craft. Movies are pumped out from a factory line to make a quick dollar. It has become just another product. That is why J.S. Bach will last forever, and J.S. Bieber maybe for a decade (or when the money runs out). And I am not cynical.

Take Francis Ford Coppola's struggle to create the movies he made... he almost lost his sanity. He simply gave everything he had. His whole soul. The incredible amount of work, stress, blood and tears is why his movies will last for a very long time. And so does it's soundtrack and music, because I can bet that he demanded only the best. Nino Rota, for example.

A short anecdote:
Who is J.S. Bach? I haven't heard his music on the airwaves.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
I think it's the result of a long term development from musicians to midi. The first popular midi synth music that came up copied the playing style of musicians. 80s stuff. But synth melodies sound mostly bad and cheap so at the end of the 80s nobody wanted midi synth melodies any more. So pop music avoided all non-vocal melodies and production focused on the parts that midi really can do: rhythm and repetition. So there's a generation that grew up with dance and hiphop and without instrumental melodies at all in the music of their youth. So why do they should use the music of their grand/parents in their films?
 

givemenoughrope

Senior Member
What Saxer said.

There's a reason why Morricone is constantly needle dropped. If film composers could write melodies like that (or even riffs or rhythmic figures) then they would and we'd hear them.

It's also easier to control/adapt drones, pads, basic minimal stuff to the temp, edits, etc.
 
OP
A

Andrajas

Active Member
Interesting stuff. I wonder if we will ever go back to how it was or if the way film/film music is done these days will go on for a long time.
 

Saxer

Senior Member
It never goes back to where it was. But every movement has a counterpart. Probably not in that way we expect. Maybe movie making itself becomes outdated. Or they change the format to short stories like music moved away from longplay to single songs. Or making music becomes so cool one day that everybody laughs about our superficial skills. Or we get a world revolution and nobody has time to think about that any more.
 

mwarsell

Active Member
Some films work without music. Terminator 2 is fantastic with absolutely no melody at all. "Melody-free" film music isn't any worse than one with melody - it's just different. If it suits the film, then that's fine. Don't take me wrong, I'm big on melody and my favourite scores are very melodious. But sometimes just sound design can go a long way. (note: I haven't yet watched the Junkie video)
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
Some films work without music. Terminator 2 is fantastic with absolutely no melody at all. "Melody-free" film music isn't any worse than one with melody - it's just different. If it suits the film, then that's fine. Don't take me wrong, I'm big on melody and my favourite scores are very melodious. But sometimes just sound design can go a long way. (note: I haven't yet watched the Junkie video)
Sorry, maybe I slept during the T2 permiere back then, but there is at least one definitive strong melodic motif in that film which is repurposed a couple of times during the movie which lets connect the audience to the emotional aspect of the story and characters.
 

Puzzlefactory

Senior Member
I do think the "memorable theme" thing is a John Williams speciality.

After reading this thread I just tried to think in my head of memorable themes and they're all John Williams.

Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Superman, Indiana Jones, ET, Jaws, Harry Potter etc etc...
 

AlexanderSchiborr

Senior Member
My bad..there is a melody in T2. But was it used in the film apart from the credits?
Yes..during the movie you have a couple of times this main melodic motif put into slightly different tempos, intensity and moments. You should probably rewatch that movie, when you find some time..Same with the T1, sure the majority of music in both movies is pretty percussive and clustery, + in T1 you have all this cool synths. For me the consensus is: Movies can work without strong melodic motifs, sure. The important thing should be that the music serves the picture, and the ideal thing would be that the music can stand IN ADDITION on its own..what is for me personally less and less the case with modern filmmusic. I also miss a strongly development of the motifs in films, there is actually very less to none for me.
 

JohnG

Senior Member
There's a reason why Morricone is constantly needle dropped
The reason is because "Good, Bad Ugly" etc. are well-known, often used specifically to recall some feeling from the original, or meant ironically. I don't think composers have lost the ability to write long melodies. In fact, as much as I love maestro Morricone's music (especially "The Mission," which is arguably the greatest film score ever), I think it's the context that surrounds his scores that generates those needle-drops, not the music on its own.

Besides -- watched one of those old westerns recently? Their --- pace --- is ---- glacial. The movies had wide open spaces visually, and wide open spaces for music. Except for one or two directors, Terrence Malick being one, directors almost never plan space for music like that today.
 

Flaneurette

Active Member
For me, the only memorable theme from the last 20 years is Gladiator. It also the only soundtrack I actually bought. I think it's Hans Zimmer's best work.
 
Top Bottom