The Importance of Soundtracks

This is a topic I've definitely wanted to discuss for a very, very long while.

Me being a musician (and actually going to a high school specialising in performing arts) and just being generally interested in music, I always pay attention to music used in films and TV-shows. I didn't use to be so interested in it, but in the last year, that obsession has definitely turned around. There are a million things that a good soundtrack improves and these are just a few.

I believe that soundtracks don't get half as much recognition as they should, because people are obsessing over the fact, that actors are brilliant at doing their thing and in most cases, they are not even aware that music used in the background wakes up those emotions inside them. You can determine whether an actor is truly great if you watch that scene without the later edited-in soundtrack, but soundtrack can sometimes hide the fact that someone may not be a particularly brilliant actor.

Yes, it can conceal a lot of flaws, but let's not forget how it can heighten the emotions to the point we all lose our shit for various reasons and start crying like babies... or at least get goosebumps (see: the kiss scene in A Room With A View). Perhaps music makes a specific scene seem a thousand times more appealing when in reality, it's nothing special (see: the kiss scene in A Room With A View). It's just a scene where the couple kisses in the most perfect environment possible... but it's only a kiss. Almost ever film leads up to it, but somehow, Puccini in the background just makes everything a thousand times better and you immediately want to become Lucy Honeychurch. (also, Professor McGonnagal babysits Bellatrix Lestrange. It's a brilliant film.)

Found on felicelog.blogspot.com
It can make things a million times more heartbreaking; let's take the Doctor's regeneration in Doctor Who, specifically the 10th and 11th regeneration (we won't go into the fact that Eleven only sneezed, but OK). There is a video on YouTube that someone made without the epic soundtrack in the background and the 10th regeneration just broke my heat, but it also revealed the amazing acting skills that David Tennant possesses. The 11th regeneration was the first one that I've seen an hour after the episode premièred and I cried like a baby regardless, but it was heartbreaking in itself without the music (look around on YouTube, I'm sure you'll find it).
A brilliant case of heartbreaking music is also the bit in the first Thor film, where Loki falls down into the ruins of the Bifrost and before, he gives this amazing speech about how he just wanted conformation or to be appreciated by Odin and in the back, there's this amazing song called Letting Go and gah, I cry like a baby every time I see that scene.

I lost the credit to this one, if you have it, please let me know! (on Tumblr, tagged "thor")

So, why do people feel the urge to put soundtrack behind scenes that would have even more impact on the audience without it? In all honesty, I have no idea. Maybe the scenes would seem a bit empty? Maybe the public wouldn't receive it as well? Go ask BBC these questions, not me.
However, I do have one possible explanation for this and it's based specifically on the DW thing. When you watch the video of the regeneration without any music in the back, you get to experience the scene how the Doctor experienced it and for some reason, I think that the writers don't want us to know too much about the character. He is a complex and layered one and perhaps knowing everything and feeling his pain of being alone and about to go through the most horrible change imaginable wouldn't be good. Just feeling and coming to his level can make a difference in every single fan and... our minds might explode. It's an on-going theory, OK?

It's also important to appreciate the moment when the director or the editor or whatever doesn't put music on in the background for us to experience the scene at its full awkwardness or sadness or whatever. For this, I have two cases to prove that not adding a soundtrack and just letting the silence do its thing may be the best way out. The first one being the very last scene in My Mad Fat Diary, season 2. Through the whole season, the main character Rae just didn't want to expose herself to her boyfriend by getting naked in front of him. She went to extreme measures to avoid doing it, but in the last episode, she finally does it. That scene is just... everything the whole season was building up to and if they would have put a love song by Oasis in the background, the emotion of the scene would have been ruined, but by letting the silence roll, we get to see Rae face her fear and overcome it and just push all the anxiety on the side. It's a scene I think would lose its value and thank god, the creators of the series were aware of that.

The second scene is from Bright Star (that film is generally very scarce with soundtrack, but we will let that slide). Fanny Brawne has just received news that her fiancée John Keats passed away in Italy. Apparently, she was around 18 at that moment, so she was a bit of a drama queen, but... Abbie Cornish did an amazing job with that scene, when Fanny completely breaks down, cries so much that she can't even breathe and just loses control. That scene seems so real and heartbreaking because, yes, you guessed it, there was nothing in the background. There was only complete silence. They could have put a majestic song with the whole orchestra in the background and violins playing high octaves and all that jazz, but they didn't. It made everything so real and so believable and every time I watch that scene, I need to pinch myself to assure myself that it's actually acting and not true.

Found on tumblr.com under the tag "bright star"
What did I try to say with this incredibly long ramble? Soundtracks are great and we shouldn't underrate them, but we don't need to stick them in every bloody scene we can.
What are your thoughts on this, I really want to see what other people think of this subject. For the end, I will leave you with a list of all of my favourite soundtracks right here. I shall see you soon!
xxx Katherine

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