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Film Music Final Paper

Music in film can be as important as the cinematography. Depending on the “heard” or “unheard” music, the scenes can changes indegree of detail, mood, ability to bring in viewers (active watching), and genre. The score from the Taxi Driver uses tempo increases in regular intervals, with drum beats setting up the tension in the film. Contrasting ideas of scores and fluctuating tones make a unified rhythmic sound.

The rhythms of “unheard” music function as an environmental/mind monitor, helping anticipate the film’s future development. As the climax nears, the beat of the music gets faster and adds instruments that set the atmosphere, paralleling the thoughts and feelings of the character. Each change in beat dominates the character’s action and shapes the mood of the each specific scene. The same rhythmic score is used in the opening scene, however it is slower, lower, and deeper in tone, drawing the viewers to pay closer attention.

In the ending scene, the director’s use of skipping a few seconds of score, throws an aural question mark to viewers as well as defining the specific genre which in this case, is social/action/drama. By inserting the “unheard” music, the viewers thoughts are constantly stimulated, allowing them to interpret the film for themselves and leave the room having been delivered the filmmaker’s original idea.

However, in “heard” music like scores from Rushmore, the message is clearly sent to the viewer, describing the scene, and helping understand the situation. In “heard” music, lyrics change the approach as they make the film more viewer-friendly. One of the songs used in the film is “Here Come My Baby”. It comes to play when Max realizes the triangular relationship among Bill, Ms. Cross, and himself. Thus, most of scores that used in the Rushmore has comic, playful, and fleshy sound making the film itself easy to follow.

Despite its viewer-friendly aspect, the film score lacks detail- what viewers see is what there is. Just by having lyrics, it skips all the aspects of having changing in tone, crescendo, using same score in different pattern etc. that Taxi Driver has. Filmmaker’s intention of putting “unheard” or “heard” music is related to the idea of “active-viewing” – degree of involvement of viewers as part of story line of film through scores. I think that challenging viewers by having “unheard” music doubles the value of the movie ticket.

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