Today in class, someone made a comment about how the music in Double Idemnity “made the movie,” and it got me to thinking about how important the role of music is not only in movies, but in life.
In movies, the music tells a story. People fall in love, and the music swells. Music in a minor key sounds eerie and implies something bad is about to happen. Fast tempo-ed music can create a sense of hurry or chaos. Silence creates discomfort. Often times the music in movies goes unnoticed, but I think without music, scenes would feel flat, movies would suffer. Whether the music in movies is an instrumental score or popular songs (The Big Chill is one of my favorite movie soundtracks), music is an integral part of movies that is often overlooked.
Because I grew up in a musically inclined family and attended a performing arts high school, music has always been a huge part of my life. For me, there is something about the way music is able to not only to cause me to feel certain emotions, but describe exactly what I am feeling when words alone seem to fall short. What amazes me most of all, however, is music’s ability to not only make sense of my emotions, but people’s emotions across the world. A particular tune or certain lyrics can connect me with people I have never met because we both feel the same way when listening to them. The melody, the rhythms, the lyrics, have the capacity to link humanity on a deeper level than geography, graphs, or studies.
Music is often referred to as the “universal language” because it has the ability to reach across language barriers and communicate with people worldwide. When a child is born, science explains how its body is able to function, and the population of the world increases by one. What science fails to explain, however, is the sheer joy the parents feel at the sight of their new child—something even words may not even be able to fully express.
One of my favorite singers, Jon Foreman, wrote about the lessons music teaches, and how music can change the world when he said:
The song or the silence: This will always be our choice. Will you raise your voice and sing or will you look the other way? All around us, beauty and pain are exploding into being. The song of humanity is bursting into life, tension and resolution, full of dissonance and harmony. The decision is yours and mine: Will we dive in? Will we enter into the song of wonder or remain silent? The symphony of mystery is all around us, music lessons that are available to us at any age- a musical education beyond than the walls of any school. Don’t be afraid to play it by ear. Come, raise your voice with mine. And let us choose to sing, to enjoy the wonder of the song while it lasts. Let us sing before our time runs out.
So, don’t let the music go silent–in the movies or in life.
(You can read the rest of Jon Foreman’s article here if you’d like).