The Fundamental Elements of Film Music

Notes

this film make your IQ lab is proudly
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sponsored by film strobe
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music senses hi john hess from
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filmmakeriq.com and today x’ lab we’re
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going to look at some of the early
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history of film music and break down the
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elements of music to give you a bit of a
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musicians insight into how music works
for the screen
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the term silent film is a retronym a
term that only came about after sound
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was synchronized to the picture for sure
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no one in 1910 taking his best gown on a
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date to a movie palace was there to
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catch the latest silent picture to them
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it was just a film the truth is silent
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film as we call it was never really
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experienced in silence first of all you
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have the noise of the projector if you
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think about it kind of sounds like a
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sewing machine it’s not a particularly
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pleasant sound so exhibitors want
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something musical for the audience to
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focus on and what is commonly considered
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the first movie showing in the Paris
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cafe by the Lumiere brothers on December
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28 1895 the musical distraction probably
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came in the form of a guitarist hired to
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play over the rat-tat-tat of the
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projector when Edison moved away from
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the peep show style Kinetoscope to vitae
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scope with the first projected motion
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picture in the United States at the
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costume gala Music Hall in New York City
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he set a precedent for having a full
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orchestra accompanying the motion
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picture in this poster for vitae scope
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from 1896 we can clearly see a conductor
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and a pit orchestra in front of the
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motion picture screen but not every
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Nickelodeon in the instant 20th century
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had the same resources in this
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burgeoning industry music may have taken
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all shapes and sizes from orchestras to
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solo organist and pianist to player
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pianos and even carnival style music
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some exhibitors may not have had music
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at all or had musicians play in between
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screenings while the projections was
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changing the real but these were just
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really short bits and pieces of film as
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the industry became more organized and
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films became less novelty and more
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narrative vehicle to tell a story music
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became that much more essential by the
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mid nineteen tens the music for film
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came in basically three varieties the
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now come to so shade with silence
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a solo is piano organ it just makes up
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the music on a spot to go with what’s on
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the screen as a personal assignment
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that’s what my grandfather still
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engineered it on the side as a hobby
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some films came with cue sheets
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was to be expected at certain points
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these were just lists of published
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popular songs of the day or even
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excerpts from classical repertoire cue
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sheets would also note specific sound
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effects that might be required around
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the 1910 several publishers like Sam Fox
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music and academic music began issuing
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books contain short compositions useful
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for establishing different moods one
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example such a piece is mysterioso
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pizzicato which appear in the 1914 photo
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play music collection compiled by J bod
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Walt lamp I’m sure you’ve heard that one
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before some of the earliest composers
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known for photo play news include John
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Stefan szymek Nick and guests on board
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were pieces specifically scored for the
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film itself this was really rare and
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reserved for bigger films even then not
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all of it would be original some
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composers would compile already
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published works with their own original
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compositions
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examples include Joseph Karl Braille
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score for DW Griffith’s Birth of a
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Nation
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and Gottfried huppertz score for Fritz
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Lang’s Metropolis
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[Music]
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music was instrumental to the
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movie-going experience by the mid 1920s
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a survey of 10,000 movie theaters
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reported that approximately 50% used
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theater organs 25% used piano only and
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25% used orchestras that included more
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than one player so it’s ironic that when
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silent film began to transition to sound
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it was music not dialogue that
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spearheaded that transition the first
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synchronized sound Vitaphone films were
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Warner Brothers in 1926
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donjuan featured the New York
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Philharmonic performing the score found
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in film was about delivering high
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quality music to the masses and the
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changeover about to take place would
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leave thousands of musicians unemployed
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but it wasn’t until a year later in 1927
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with Al Jolson impromptu speech in jazz
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singer that Hollywood and the public
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realized hey this sound thing it can
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work with speech to now just as music
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has been a key part of film it has been
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a key part of my life as well I’ve been
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in and out in and out and around band
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music for nearly my entire life as a
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trumpet player and when I fall I
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generally fall for a songbird but that’s
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a tragedy for a different video a lot of
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editors I’ve met have also have a
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musical background there’s something
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about music that trains you as a
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filmmaker to feel rhythm and the
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remainder of this survey and
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demonstration I want to lay down the
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groundwork for understanding music if
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you have never played an instrument or
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been in a band this will serve you with
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a solid grounding in the elements and
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language that make up music if you’re a
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musician hopefully none of this will be
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new but it might be a nice conceptual
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review no one watching this will be able
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to master the intricacies of music
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immediately but I hope to give you some
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tools and concepts to think about
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when you’re working with a composer or
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selecting needle drop music for your
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film
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thing you consider when talking about
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music for film tempo and editing go hand
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in hand as Sergei Eisenstein would tell
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you most Western music styles are
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speed of that beat now this was
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described as BPM or beats per minute and
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we judge the feel of the beat by
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comparing it to the human heart the
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average heart rate is around 80 to 100
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beats per minute in music tempos in this
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range have a relaxed easy-going
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sometimes a walking feel slower than 80
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can perceived as calm solemn lethargic
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or even deliberate which as the
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introduction to Pachelbel’s can which
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gives a very stately deliberate sound on
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the other side tempos between 100 and
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140 are considered lively many marches
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including the fan favorite Stars and
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Stripes forever sit around a hundred and
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twenty minutes from 140 to 160 and above
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music is thought of as fast paced
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quick and excited
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[Music]
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of course all these are generalizations
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and tempos can and do often fluctuate in
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accelerate to create a feeling of
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urgency or it can retard to create a
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sense of finality humans being the
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pattern-seeking animals that we are
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don’t wait each beat equally tempo in
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western music comes in either a duple
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feel of one major beat followed by two
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minor beats or a combination of do poles
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triples and even alternating duple x’
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and triples the most common time
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signature is 4/4 so common it’s actually
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called common time the first or top
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number states how many beats there are
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per measure in this case for two sets of
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duple one two three four one two three
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four the bottom number states which note
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value gets the beat in this case the
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quarter note but I don’t wanna get too
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deep into music notation here just focus
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on that top number three four is often
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called a wall here we have three beats
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per measure with the quarter note
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getting the beat it sounds like this 1 2
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3 1 2 3 1 2 3 3 has to me a cyclical
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feel of music that rolls along which is
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why you hear it a lot in merry-go-rounds
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perhaps the most famous waltz of all
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time is the Blue Danube by Neal Han
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Strauss
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then there are complex meters like five
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four which aren’t so common
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five four is a combination of one triple
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and one duple so it goes like this
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one two three four five one two three
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four five one two three four five
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David Brubeck’s take five is a classic
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example of the complex meters with tempo
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as our temporal anchor so to speak we
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build patterns over the beat to create
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classical repertoire Pachelbel’s Canon a
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most beginning follow very strict feet
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soon the high voices begin to subdivide
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that creates new interesting rhythm and
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size mentalities subdivisions create new
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dimension of expression and momentum
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even though the beach at 4:00 to apply
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to let me play the same people over and
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over
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a different feel can be achieved by
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inserting and emphasizing notes that are
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off the beach sometimes called
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a great example the styling is ragtime
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piano from the phrase ragged time in
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this player piano rolls Scott Joplin
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performing Maple Leaf Rag you hear the
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strip beat in the lower note of the left
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hand while the right hand sort of
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answers it with all the awesome now
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lastly there are times when there is no
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tempo even in traditional western music
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the rubato solo is a common feature in
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solo and opera pieces which gives the
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performance a bit of drama chant to show
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off sometimes whole pieces can be in
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free-flowing beat like air sees you at
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the end number 1
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beatless music can range of irreal and
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calming to downright suspenseful and
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creepy like Christophe tender s Keys the
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natural sonar is number two which was
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used extensively in the shining
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melody is perhaps what everyone thinks
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of when it comes to music melody is the
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musical sentence just as a sense is made
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of words a melody is made out of pitches
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sometimes ascending in frequency
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sometimes descending in frequency and
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sometimes just jumping up and down in
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frequency now these frequencies aren’t
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random they are built around a scale
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structure based on octave an octave is
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me having were doubling on the frequency
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and when your music meaning interval
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between an octave is divided into 12
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half that’s called a chromatic scale
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from these half-step different kinds of
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scales can be created using different
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combinations of whole and half steps
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musicians starting out begin by learning
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the major scale which is a seven note
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scale with the eighth note being the Ox
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– hence the term octave this creates a
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happy by changing the combination of
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whole and half steps we can construct
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minor scales that now had like more
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monic minor mm a scales don’t
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necessarily need seven notes the
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pentatonic scale utilizes just five
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notes many musical traditions from
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Europeans and Africans Asian to Native
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American stem from this pentatonic scale
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most folk songs are based around these
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series of notes
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[Music]
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scales are the building blocks of melody
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every musician learning an instrument or
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learning to compose has to understand
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how scales work now relate to melody is
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around the same frequency as the human
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voice
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having the melody and a higher frequency
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gives a sound a smaller more petite
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sound as we associate higher frequencies
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with smaller animals moving the melody
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the lower octave gives a bound of
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bigness and that we combine the high and
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low frequencies together we can create a
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sense of depth giving the sound more
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weight to gravitas which brings us to
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that sound like a sine wave created by a
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tone generator that’s because the real
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world instruments don’t just vibrate at
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the fundamental frequency they vibrate
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in a range of harmonics called
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overtones now some of these overtones
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aren’t quite in tune with the
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fundamental frequency it’s this
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combination of all these overtones that
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make up the inherent sound of a
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particular musical instrument which is
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why a trumpet sounds different than a
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French horn
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despite the fact that they are playing
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we have tempo and melody to fill out the
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musical landscape we need harmony which
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is created when we play any two notes at
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the same time a harmony can have
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different sounds based on the interval
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between the notes it can sound Pleasant
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or work and sounds dissonant if we build
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the way we build up these chords create
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different effects there’s the major
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chord which sounds heavy minor chord
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which sounds sad here–look called
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dominant 11th inversion which has a
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jazzy sophistication
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western music is built on moving these
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chords around in a progression that
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matches the melody in many songs the
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route toward the fourth chord in that
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scale and a fifth chord with dominant
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seventh ultimately everything we want to
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resolve of course there are many many
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variations of chord progressions but the
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purpose of progressions is to lead the
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ear to hopefully a resolution one of my
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favorite demonstrations of this is
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something you’ll hear at the end of many
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hymns your ear naturally wants that
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middle note to resolve back then nice
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happy major chord at the end now where
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we want to put our root chord and center
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song with progression based on three
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manger who have a different sound as
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long as honor is major
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throughout history composers have
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written guides as to which keys were
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supposed to be used for which moods and
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styles but the fact is there is
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absolutely no consensus on the subject
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matter most composers have their own
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favored keys that sound good to them as
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what’s called the flat keys b-flat
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e-flat F and a flat but when I started
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playing in pit orchestras for musicals I
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start seeing sharp Keys like e B and a
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which are more suitable for the range of
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vocalists I know we’re getting into the
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nuts and bolts of music theory but when
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you’re shopping around for needle drop
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music you will usually see what key the
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track is centred on
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tempo melody voice harmony and key but
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that’s just a schematics for music the
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final and perhaps most important element
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classify it’s the difference between a
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world-class concert pianist and a MIDI
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performance even how a note is struck
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the attack can alter the proceed power
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of a note other elements that play into
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the performance include vibrato bending
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the notes how the beats are divided are
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they straight are they swung like in
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jazz whether the performer is
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consciously playing ahead or behind the
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beat there are an infinite number of
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ways that musician can alter what’s
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written on the page or sheet music to
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create new sounds and new musics
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expression along with all the elements
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musical culture compare the sound of the
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Hyden trumpet concerto from the austrian
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royal court for the sound of Mexican
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mariachi bass
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and finally the sound of a soulful jazz
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[Music]
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it’s the same exact instrument expressed
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in completely different ways all in
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service to that particular culture
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through expression even new musical
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cultures emerge from rhythm blues and
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gospel music come to rock and roll and
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from rock and roll again rockabilly surf
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rock top rock acid rock heavy metal and
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even disco each of these music genres
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constitute their own completely separate
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culture that dictate how music is
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expressed despite using more or less the
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same musical instruments and chord
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progressions now the line separating one
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genre from the next are completely
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arbitrary but a source of constant
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have a general idea of the elements that
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constitute music how does music work for
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film well it’s really impossible to make
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any blanket statement about the role
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music plays in film some composers claim
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that the role of film music isn’t
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support everything else but sometimes
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through the use of light motif which
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uses a melody to associate with a
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particular person idea of the situation
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the music becomes inseparable from the
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stars sometimes music is just used to
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push and heighten the emotion
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eight up music
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and now years wasted
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[Music]
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Omega
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and swear
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[Music]
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[Music]
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sometimes music is there to serve as a
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counterpoint to what’s going on on the
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screen
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[Music]
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whether you are working with a composer
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or looking for needle drop music for
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your film keep in mind the different
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elements we talked about today is the
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tempo right for my scene is the melody
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right if there is one is the progression
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landing where I want to land in the
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scene even subtle changes to the very
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same piece of music can make big
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difference to demonstrate let’s take the
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ending from George Malee’s a trip to
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moon and add a soundtrack now we’ve got
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this musical track at a hundred and
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thirty feet per minute and excellent and
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flat it features a children’s choir and
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a high organ got a nice pest aural
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positive happy feel now by adding in a
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string section playing repeated notes in
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a syncopated rhythm with a little bit of
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harp that original 130 beats per minute
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has more momentum more driving feel not
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quite as pastoral
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[Music]
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the further change the sound let’s add
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some adult voices and lower strings to
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the same syncopation the result now is
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increased depth giving us a grander feel
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despite changing of voicing
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[Music]
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if we add a couple countermelodies
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including a heroic French horn and put
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some emphasis on the striking of those
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lower bass note I’m mixing as a low
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brass hit we get a more powerful
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celebratory
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[Music]
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[Applause]
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I really is an infinite number of ways
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you can alter music to get the feel that
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you want music has been a part of the
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cinematic experience since its inception
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in this survey of elements of music we
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have covered just a tiny tiny portion of
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what is around and available in the
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world of music ultimately music is just
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one more voice in the filmmaking process
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just like camera angles framing dialogue
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lighting editing acting casting story
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structure I could go on forever to make
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any blanket statement about the role of
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music in film would be a foolhardy thing
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to do every time I come with a trend I
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could think of at least one prominent
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movie that breaks it the best thing to
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do is to be forever a student always
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listening always learning be open to
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experimenting with music be open to new
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ways of hearing open to where the music
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takes you that’s the only way to making
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something great i’m john hess i’ll see
24:58
you at filmmakeriq.com

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