Friday, 20 April 2012

On Screen Harmony

Published in The Big Issue (May, 2012).  Excerpt below...

Since the silent film era, movie makers have known the importance of a great soundtrack. These days, though, it’s big business, with musicians and producers trying all sorts of ways to get in sync.

Think back to the first time you saw Star Wars. Or The Godfather. Or Apocalypse Now. The stories, drama and emotion of these films are etched into our brains due, in large part, to the accompanying music. Music plays such an important role in creating mood and audiences are now so acclimatised to a soundtrack that the absence of one has an eerie effect. In visual media terms, music isn’t just a nice backdrop, it’s a crucial part of conveying meaning. So finding the perfect music to accompany your film, TV show or ad is big business.
Generally, soundtracks fall into one of two broad categories. The specifically scored soundtracks: largely instrumental music composed to fit the images, such as the music to Star Wars, the Indiana Jones films, ET and Jurassic Park, all written by legendary composer John Williams.
And the soundtracks that rely on music by artists or bands that have been produced independently of the film. Crazy, Stupid, Love, for example, featured a plethora of bands’ songs, including ‘Blood’ from the Middle East and ‘On the Sly’ by the Bamboos.
While scored soundtracks rely upon the skill of a cinematic composer, finding music to a fit a screen production is a trickier beast; a music supervisor has literally millions of songs from which to choose.
And these days, the pool of music available is greater than ever before. More and more independent artists – those without the backing of a publisher or a label – are making a play to attract the interest of filmmakers, advertisers and TV producers.
In the industry, matching music with screen productions is referred to as ‘syncing’. Tyler McLoughlan, who heads up Brisbane syncing and licensing agency The Sound Pound represents a roster of artists – largely unsigned – who are looking for ‘screen opportunities’.
“This entails making relationships with people who are using music, whether that’s music supervisors, or people who do a lot of corporate jobs with in-house production teams – making training videos, for example,” explains McLoughlan. “It’s quite varied…in that there are lots of uses for music out there.”

Samuel J. Fell

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