Have you ever noticed the background music in your favorite films or television shows? I’m not talking about music with vocals, I’m talking about the instrumental mood-evoking music. Sometimes that music is so buried in a scene that you don’t even consciously notice it, you just feel it.
Think of the classic “Flying Theme” from E.T. when Elliot takes off on his bicycle. It’s one of my absolute favorites:
Or what about the Imperial March from Star Wars?
These tracks are so beautifully powerful, and add a level of “realness” to the story you’re watching unfold. It’s hard to imagine the scene and the music separately, isn’t it? There are so many, many, many hugely popular and familiar tracks, that if you heard them you’d instantly know.
Think of the Jaws theme, or the Halloween horror movie music. It’s all so iconic. The haunting humming in Titanic, or the Bagpipe music from Braveheart.
I’ve been a fan of score since I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, back in 1997. Christophe Beck is one of my favorite score composers, and I have collected as much of his work as possible. His score to the star crossed lovers, Buffy and Angel, was absolutely beautiful. Here’s a sample of another one of my favorites:
Another more modern TV favorite is The Handmaid’s Tale score:
The Handmaid’s Tale is set in such a disorienting world. It’s like ours- only different, more controlled, more prison-like. The music has that distorted odd “something isn’t right” feeling.
Once I realized how much I loved score, I branched out. Of course there are big names I mentioned earlier, like John Williams (Star Wars, E.T., Jaws, Indiana Jones, Home Alone, Jurassic Park), James Horner (Titanic, Braveheart), Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Inception), all with phenomenal music. You can get these hugely popular themes via download or on soundtrack albums.
I also fell in love with less famous composers. Not as well known, but I think the score from the movie “Pleasantville” is amazing. Not only is the movie unsung, I think the score is as well. Listen to one of Randy Newman’s cues here:
Another favorite is the music from “Great Expectations” by Patrick Doyle. Check this cue out:
“Castaway” featured little score, to accentuate the feelings of loneliness and isolation the character felt on the island, but check out the amazingly gorgeous closing theme by Alan Silvestri. I think this one may be my favorite piece:
Another of my absolute favorites is Michael Giacchino’s score to the television series Lost. The music so eloquently captured how each character was “lost” in their own special way. Check out Locked Out Again:
Are you a fan of movie or television score? There are literally thousands of cues out there.
What do you think? As you can see, I have a lot of favorites. I started this post thinking I would share my top 5, and honestly that’s just too much of a challenge for me. Music is everything for me. I listen to score when I write- it helps me feel inspired. I also listen to it after a bad day, to calm my emotions and help me find my center. I think if we lived in a world without music to help us express our moods, we’d be a lot worse off. Music is a beautiful thing.