The Importance of Music on Film & Emotion

Why Music Matters in Filmmaking

Published on in Miscellaneous

By Steven Howsley, Owner of SongTub 

If you took a second to close your eyes and think about Star Wars, what comes to mind? What are you hearing? Laser blasters, light sabers, possibly a dramatic score by John Williams? For the major films in pop culture, music plays a major role in developing the themes and tone of the production. 

For scores of a more subtle nature or even in commercial work, music still shapes how we perceive the visual imagery on screen.

For example, imagine a scene where our main actor is running through a field. The brush is tall and they are running at a fast pace with no clear emotion on their face. In the background you hear a brooding horror soundtrack with shrill violins and low end rumbles. How are you feeling for our actor? Scared or concerned?

Now imagine the same scene, our actor running through the field, but this time an inspiring action soundtrack emerges. Triumphant brass and orchestra take charge and sound just like your favorite super hero flick. What are you feeling now? Probably something different than our last example.

Though the change of soundtrack for our scene was subtle, the interpretation of the scene changed dramatically. The same principle applies to all of film — whether it’s a toothpaste commercial or blockbuster hit. If you’re looking for great commercial music, stock music subscription or library sites may be a good bet. If you’re making the next Avengers movie, better hire a professional composer.

Here is my favorite video on how music impacts all types of filmmaking:

But what about removing music all-together? Now that we know that changing a soundtrack can change the scene, will removing it do the same? In short, the answer is yes. While there are plenty of wonderful silent films out there, most films need a score. Don't believe me? Let's bring this full circle and look at an iconic scene from Star Wars at the end of The Force Awakens where Rey climbs to the top of the island to meet Luke Skywalker for the first time. 

I’m cherry-picking this scene because there is nearly no dialogue for the entire 3-minute scene and John Williams has his score do most of the talking. I’ve found two clips of this scene, one with and without music, and I think it will blow your mind. In particular, pay attention to how awkward and strange the last 30 seconds are compared to the version with the score. The scored version is powerful, literally showing how music creates a language and emotion of it’s own. 


Without Score:

Music plays into emotions more than you may realize and when it comes to filmmaking it is one of those essential things that can really make or break a production. The next time you are looking for production music, take your time and think about how your viewer may interpret your scene based on the supporting music.


ProductionHUB ProductionHUB Logo

Related Blog Posts
As I sit down and begin to contemplate 2020, I wondered out loud what were some of the better take aways from 2020? Where should I start? The first thought that came to mind was, what did we learn from 2020? Did we as an industry or as individuals learn anything? I think the quick and easy answer is that we were all pretty much “scrooged” in some fashion. From a personal and professional standpoint it's fair to say that most—if not all of us—lost something or someone in 2020. If we wanted to, we could easily sink into some of the gloom and doom of 2020, but hey, that just isn’t my style. With those thoughts in mind, let’s take a look at the whole of 2020 and see what we can make of it.
Published on Monday, December 14, 2020
Extreme Weather Productions: Taking It to the Limit
Extreme Weather Productions: Taking It to the Limit
There is no doubt in my mind that if you are living and working in the production space long enough, sooner or later you will come face to face with some extremely nasty weather and be able to tell your very own bad ass, bad weather production story. In the moment, the weather will make you wonder what the hell did I sign up for? It’s like every time I watch an episode of the long running reality show Deadliest Catch, I'm thinking—would I sign up for that? Would YOU sign up for that? I think my jury is still way out there, just trying to stay warm and not get wicked seasick.
Published on Monday, November 30, 2020
Threaded Films Creates Dynamic, Interactive Experiences Remotely on Twitch via Panasonic PTZ Cameras
Threaded Films Creates Dynamic, Interactive Experiences Remotely on Twitch via Panasonic PTZ Cameras
Threaded Films, a boutique production studio in Chicago, IL, partnered with creative team, Project Adventure, and Twitch software developer, Warp World, for their latest film project. They quickly realized the need to modernize their studio to fulfill their goal of creating a new style of dynamic and interactive content. To meet the demands of the project, Threaded Films needed affordable yet feature-rich technology to be used in their home studio to boost creativity and execute a live production remotely—all while adhering to shelter-in-place mandates.
Published on Friday, October 9, 2020


There are no comments on this blog post.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.