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Film Music

  • Date Submitted: 02/22/2012 01:53 AM
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“Directors use songs to literally interpret and tie it in with the film’s ideas and emotional and/or political content” Coyle. How does popular music help set the differing moods and emotional content in the movie, (500) Days of Summer?

“‘Popular music’ as a wide ranging term refers to various forms of vernacular musical expression arising from everyday cultural experience and broadly accessible across education, class and occupational categories.” (Coyle, 2004)

In his film, (500) Days of Summer, Director, Marc Webb has created an effective score by utilising songs that are well known amongst his audience. This score has drawn from a wide variety of musical styles and eras, all of which accomplish a specific purpose in enhancing narrative, characterisation and mood. Each song selection was not merely an afterthought grafted onto the film in post-production, but rather, a calculated element in the film’s larger schemes of production (Smith, 1998) and is crucial in obtaining the right character development and establishing mood. Jeff Smith summarises this process by explaining that filmmakers frequently use songs as a way of establishing mood and setting, and as a commentary on the films characters and action.

Unusual and unexpected scoring choices do more than simply establish historical background. Instead they indicate the depth of Webb’s musical literacy and understanding of the magical and nostalgic power of pop, aware that the exact placement of a song within a movie can shape and change the nature of the on screen story. It conveys an understanding that the relationship between the music and action does not have to be harmonious. (Kermode, 1995)

The movie, (500) Days of Summer is Marc Webb’s film directorial debut. Webb is a renowned music video director, a reason why this essay will be focusing on the use of popular music in this film and the particular decisions he has made in music choice. The soundtrack of the film features ‘indie’ and smaller...


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