Wednesday, February 15, 2012


The sounds I hear: a chorus of high pitched birds, chirp chirp chirping; steady raindrops, dripdrip-dripdrip-dripdrip-dripdrip-dripping on a metal surface; more rain, a swell in its patter against gravel; a motor, of what sounds like a large truck, the engine starting, and settling, idling, then driving away; breathing, gentle and steady, a child napping with a stuffy nose; the birds are quiet now; the afternoon settles into distant traffic and the rain.

Sounds can stimulate emotion and set a mood, or establish a setting, a situation. It's a sensory tool that takes much effort for me to utilize. Sometimes I realize it is an afterthought, my choice to use sound or music.

Music is incredibly powerful shorthand able to convey many things to an audience. It must be chosen carefully, for a familiar selection will already hold meaning, older unrelated experiences and memories wrapped up in each verse and chorus. It takes a truly powerful concoction to transfer the definition of a melody, to substitute a new meaning for the old.

Lately, when I hear swelling music under a scene, I feel manipulated, rather than moved. Or resistantly unmoved at the attempt. Cynicism? Overuse? Lazy shorthand, perhaps? There must be meaning first, depth already, and a song thoughtfully used only as support, or emphasis, or as contrast in a meaningful dialectic. That, too, can become merely a stand in for the hard work, the real work.

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