Imagine seeing a movie without music.
Imagine that romantic moment or that pulse-pounding action/chase/horror scene without music or sound effects or audible dialog. As a music supervisor for nearly thirty years, I experienced that hundred of times. Believe me, it’s a unique experience. Even silent movies had music. With the composer and music editor, we dissected these silent scenes over and over to determine where music would enhance the mood silently being played out. Dialog and sound effects editors were also doing their part to fine tune the film as well. We music people (with some obvious bias) always thought that music was the most important element. Fittingly, music was always the last thing to be added. The underscore that ignited the emotions. After all, no one leaves the theater humming the sound effects.
On some films that involved live music scenes, I sometimes got involved before filming began. I enjoyed those the most. Seeing a film grow from the page to the screen is an unbelievable experience. It takes hundreds of people to get there. To get an idea, stick around with the people cleaning the theater at the end of the next movie you attend and watch the end credits roll. All those people had a hand in getting that writers’ vision into a theater near you.
When all of these talented people are through: the actors, crew, technicians, editors and the producer and director, the film ends up at the dubbing stage. It’s here that minute by minute… scene by scene… dialog, sound effects and music are mixed and re-mixed until they end up in perfect balance. I always marveled at this process. We all were aware of every scene and all its’ elements. But when the mix was perfect, we could just sit back and savor the magic we had made.
All of this is to say that all of us worked so hard to make your theater experience so easy. All of these complex elements in balance so that you can immerse yourself in the story and experience the emotions without distraction.
As I wrote my book and recounted this experience, I came to appreciate Oscar Wilde’s theory that life imitates art. We come into this world like that first page of a script. From there we are bombarded by the sights, sounds and words of thousands of people and places we encounter along the way. Minute by minute, day by day we are formed as a person like a film…scene after scene. The trick is to constantly absorb, edit and enjoy it all in perfect balance. And don’t forget the music….no one leaves this earth humming the sound effects.