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Where Do Film Composers Get Their Ideas? — 5 Comments

  1. Hey. Great Website I love it.

    I have a question : is there some place that i can learn these music characteristics like a theme that is Dark or Mystic or Happy. (I understand the Major Minor feelings) and are these Tonal music ? or Modal and Atonal ?

    I’m a classical composer myself but in classic we don’t have these feelings or I don’t know about them.

    This is Spectral and Minimal music combined and orchestrated if i’m correct.

    My goal is to achieve high places in Classical and Film music but I don’t know where to read about Film music.

    • Hi Soroush, and thanks for your kind words about the site. About writing with certain emotions in mind, that’s a very hard question to answer because there are so many ways to write a “dark” theme, or “mystic” theme, or “happy” theme. There are certainly some common features found in many of these sorts of themes, though. Dark themes tend to use a lot of low notes, and the harmony is often minor chords, atonal chords, or other dissonant chords, and the rhythm is usually fairly calm. Happy themes, on the other hand, are quite the opposite, with the melody usually in a mid or high register, lots of major chords, and very active rhythms. But these are only tendencies and are not rules by any means.

      There isn’t really one book I can recommend that explains how film music expresses certain emotions. The best thing I can suggest is just to listen to a lot of themes that sound “happy” or “mystic” or whatever feeling you’re looking for, and try to hear some common techniques among them. Then again, if you were looking for how a certain aspect of music might express a certain emotion (like harmony, or instrumentation, or melody), there actually are bits and pieces in the literature that discuss these sorts of things, but it depends which aspect you want to study. There is, for example, a great article by Frank Lehman about how cadences in film music create certain emotions. I always learn something every time I revisit it.

    • Hi George. I’m afraid I can’t be of much help that way because it’s not my expertise. Besides moving to a filmmaking center like LA or New York, you might try offering your work to student filmmakers at a film school since they always need music. You’d probably be working for free but at least it’s somewhere to start.

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