Infographic: How Movie Soundtracks Speak Volumes

One of the most important factors for a well-crafted movie is the soundtrack, which sets the tone, consciously or subconsciously.

how movie soundtracks speak volumes infographic

Everyone loves movies - whether it’s the climactic battle sequences, relatable characters and situations, or the setting and subject matter. But one of the most important factors for a well-crafted movie is the soundtrack, which sets the tone, consciously or subconsciously. Movie soundtracks have a way of transporting us to other realms, even when we’re not watching the movie. Who doesn’t think of a galaxy far, far away when they hear the Star Wars main theme. Or who doesn’t find themselves on a pirate ship when they hear the epic tracks from Pirates of the Caribbean?

How Movie Soundtracks Speak Volumes Infographic - Musicnotes

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    1. Setting the Tone
      1. The tone of the film is the emotion that the filmmakers want audiences to experience.
        1. Example: Prisoners soundtrack evokes cold loneliness vs. the Indiana Jones soundtrack produces a sense of adventure
      2. Rhythm, tempo, and melody are a few of the elements within the construction of a track that produce the desired tone
      3. Soundtracks describe the setting - Westerns have a type of soundtrack while war films have something very different
        1. Example: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly prioritizing guitar vs. Saving Private Ryan prioritizing brass
      4. Soundtracks describe character - Is the music describing a sad experience, an angry experience, a happy experience? Music creates visual meaning to the internal
        1. Example: The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring’s final piece evokes both sadness and hope for the main characters
      5. Soundtracks describe drama - Music works harmoniously with what’s happening on screen
        1. Example: Forrest Gump’s theme works hand in hand when Forrest is first able to run
    2. Crescendo 
      1. Crescendos build in intensity until it comes to a final point, which can create great amounts of tension in a scene
        1. Example: Hans Zimmer uses crescendo in several films, particularly in Interstellar
      2. Horror movies and suspense thrillers use crescendo to heighten the emotions of the audience. 
        1. Example: Slow build up from mild to explosive guitar chords in 28 Days Later 
      3. Many times, a crescendo can also be false, leading to silence rather than a climax, which can give the audience a false sense of security
    3. Shortlist of Tone Setting Movie Soundtracks
      1. Jaws - John Williams
      2. Forrest Gump - Alan Silvestri
      3. Inception - Hans Zimmer
      4. Star Wars  - John Williams
      5. Schindler’s List - John Williams
      6. Halloween  - John Carpenter 
      7. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly - Ennio Morricone
      8. The Godfather - Nino Rota
      9. The Lord of the Rings - Howard Shore
      10. Gladiator - Hans Zimmer