Friday, July 15, 2011

Background Music

I love music as much as anyone. I like a great variety of music--fast, slow, vocals, instrumentals, classical, or modern. When I listen to music, I really listen to it and enjoy it. I like hearing music in shops, elevators, or places like art museums. I'm not demanding about the kind of music played, I enjoy it if it is appropriate and not overpowering.

When I hear music in movies or on TV shows, it isn't the main reason I watch the movie or program. A lot of TV shows and movies have great themes like I remember from the old programs from the sixties that everyone recognizes such as Peter Gunn, Mr. Lucky, Hawaii Five-O or the Pink Panther. The most recent theme that I have really enjoyed has been the intro music to Southland, a TV series broadcast on TNT, and it has been renewed for a fourth season. The photos in the intro are as haunting as the music and sets a perfect mood for the drama to follow. It's a great intro.

When I watch a movie, or a TV show, I want to hear the dialogue and the music should be in the background. That seems to have been reversed for some weird reason that I fail to understand. I know music sets a mood and contributes to the atmosphere of the action. When music is so loud and overpowering, it is no longer in the background. Usually there is a lot of action and you can't see the actors' faces sometimes to try to figure out the words they are saying. Their lips are moving but all you can hear is the dramatic music. Then there are the actors who don't move their lips and seem to talk like ventriloquists. No, I don't need hearing aids--I have perfect hearing.

When I was in school plays, we were instructed to articulate, to speak clearly and project, and not to mumble. People have become so used to modern technology, they seem to have forgotten to articulate, enunciate, and not mumble. Unless a performer is a ventriloquist, they need to move their lips. Not even the best microphone in the world is going to clean up mumbled dialogue.

Note to Flashpoint staff: I don't need blasting drums and horns to tell me that a swat team is about to shoot someone if they don't give up the hostages.

Remember the first Hawaii Five-O? I don't remember having to shout "Turn off the music--I can't hear the actors."

Memo to Combat Hospital music mixer: We all know it takes place in a war zone. MASH managed to let us hear the dialogue and we were better for it. They never needed to cover the dialogue with sounds of bombs and enough panic music that we needed ear plugs. It needs to be Background Music. If we can't hear the dialogue, why would we want to watch? 

Back to my previous mention of the Southland intro and  theme song. This video is of the original music:

Canção Do Mar is a Portuguese song (meaning “Song of the Sea”) by Dulce Pontes


  1. Sometimes when I'm sitting mesmerized watching some movie, I will suddenly realize that the music sounds like a fast-beating heart, and THAT'S why mine is pounding. Sheesh!

  2. Even if all people love music, there's bound to be several genres which they wish not to hear at all. With the various kinds of music available these days, those who would run a business should carefully pick the genre they would play in their store so as to avoid driving away customers.