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Contemporary Film Music a TEMP TRACK

Contemporary film music versus classical themes - how do they differ?

Contemporary film music is often overshadowed by the classical themes that easily come to mind for most people. Is this due to its focus on texture rather than melody? Is film music of the digital age a more enduring and accessible medium for creating musical landscapes? Are classic themes simply unmovable? In this context, it is worth reflecting on the differences between classical and modern soundtracks and discovering what is so special about them.

In today's films, music has a slightly different function than it once did. Its role has changed. Film music is not always intended to evoke specific emotions. Often, it is merely a sound background to enhance the overall atmosphere.

In older films there was such a thing as a leitmotif, which was linked to a particular character or place. It allowed the viewer to understand what was happening to the character and the music, along with the plot, built tension. In modern films, this element is rarely used, which makes it more difficult to build emotional tension in the viewer.

However, it is worth noting that nowadays film music is more readily available than ever before. This, in turn, allows for greater freedom in composition.

An example of classical film music might be the soundtrack from the film "Back to the Future" by Alan Silvestri. This is a perfect example of how music can affect our emotions and emphasise the atmosphere of a film. It has a clear leitmotif and continues to surprise us with original solutions.

And from the film Indiana Jones John Williams

I am convinced that after watching the films listed, almost everyone will be able to hum the opening theme. These are true classics that will be remembered for years and we will always associate a particular tune with them. In any case, there are plenty of such cult films that prove this rule. I don't think I'm going to list any more titles here, because you can write in the comments yourself which musical themes from which films have stayed in your memory the most.

Contemporary film music is often less melodic and more focused on creating mood and atmosphere in a film. Composers often use electronic instruments, synthesisers and sounds to create a unique aura. Examples of such music can be found in Hans Zimmer's films such as 'Inception' and 'Interstellar'.

Also, contemporary music based mainly on a symphony orchestra can sometimes be less melodic. However, this kind takes nothing away from its 'epicness' or the grandeur of its message, as exemplified by the music from the film X-MEN 2 with music by John Ottman.

Similarities in the soundtracks of different films and composers - where do they come from?

Today it is common to talk about the similarities of soundtracks from different films and different composers. What is the reason for this? I think the shortest and most accurate answer to this question is: Temp track ! That is, a temporary music track used from another film for a new film, a new scene, to see how the image interacts with a particular type of music. However, before I explain exactly what this is about, I need to go back to the anterior era of film music.

In the past, the process of creating music for films, such as John Williams' process for Star Wars, was complex and expensive. High costs due to paying musicians, expensive recording equipment and logistical timing issues made it a long and arduous phase.

However, the computer age brought with it new opportunities. A new composer emerged, Hans Zimmer, who changed the game in the field of composing music for films and pioneered the use of computers. This allowed the director to listen to the music as it was being produced and composed, allowing for changes to be made and greater involvement in the film editing process. This method of working was groundbreaking and many composers began to use it.

Through the use of synthesisers, DAWs and VSTs, the music creation process became more condensed and accessible. The director was able to see the progress and pinpoint any changes that needed to be addressed much faster. Composers can now hear the full sound of the music in their own home or studio, making the process of producing music for films quicker and easier.

And now comes this strange creation called Temp track which is the practice of using temporary, substitute music in the film editing process to establish the pace and mood of scenes. This streamlines the whole process of agreement between the film's producer or director on the shape of the music and reduces production costs. However, the final result is not unaffected, i.e. a new music track that often resembles the provisional one. This is because composers fear rejection of their music idea, as the commissioning party may already be familiar with the replacement music that has been used before, and it is well known that composing and producing music is not a matter of a few minutes or hours, but a time-consuming process.

Personally, I cannot imagine working without a pre-arranged Temp track with the principal. A Temp track is like a picture that says more than a thousand words and is like X-rays aimed at the director's head. Contemporary film music composers would agree with me on this point. We first create music for the director's ideas and only then for his film. Even if the commissioner says he knows our music and knows we'll do it perfectly, the Temp track can't be overlooked because it's central to the process of creating film music. Temp track is such an integral part of the film music creation process today that it seems not only difficult, but often impossible to work without this tool.

And finally, one more piece John Ottman from the film Superman ReturnsMain Titles as an example that breaks the rule that, however, contemporary composers also create tracks with interesting melodies.

I hope this post has inspired you to explore different composers and film music.
Roberto Ignis

Below, the author of the article with John Ottman

Do you need Epic Music for your production ?

If you need epic music for your film or game and you don't have the budget to hire Hans Zimmer then I invite you to work with me. My name is Roberto Ignis and I am a composer, and you can find more about me here

Roberto Ignis

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