Damn You, Hollywood. Again.
Cast your mind back a few weeks. The air was cleaner, the world made sense, and herds of adorable golden retriever puppies roamed the streets spreading good will. And a younger, fresher-faced Eric Summer wrote an internet column which happened to mention that he thought most people didn’t really like music all that much–that they regarded it as little more than background noise.
Well, the long weeks have passed, and I have spent my time in quiet contemplation as I’ve grown older, and I think I have it pinned down as to why people think of music as background noise. As is usually the case in these matters, I blame Hollywood.
This train of thought began, as most of my trains of thought do, with Star Wars. I was driving home from work one day and I heard John Williams’ Star Wars score on the radio. I was happy to hear it. I like Star Wars. A lot. And as I listened, I realized I remembered exactly where most of the dialogue from the movies fit with the score. It was uncanny. So I drove on home, quoting Star Wars happily to myself and thinking. And then it dawned on me, clear and bright as a summer cliché: this score is inextricably tied with the movie it belongs to. It is simply impossible to separate the two. Any merit it has as a piece of music is completely dependent upon the pictures that go with it.
Which is not to say that it’s ineffective; far from it. It is a wonderful movie score, filled with memorable themes and underlining the emotional context of each scene it supports. But it doesn’t work without the movie. (more…)