Often, people ask me what kind of music I like. Of course, my response is “film scores,” and people look at me like what’s that? or just decide to change the subject because they don’t know what I mean. Rarely, someone will nod and say, “Okay, yeah!” But then the subject is changed anyways.
Maybe you’re someone who never thought of listening to film scores, and that makes perfect sense. After all, it is just some music composed specifically to go along with a movie. Why would you listen to the music without the movie? Sounds a little odd, I know, but it’s something I think everyone should enjoy. Anyone, that is. There’s action, there’s suspense, there’s breathtaking themes, fun marches, sorrowful tunes, gut wrenching melodies, all caught up in one sweeping, dramatic orchestral score for an epic scene. There’s fast-paced, high intensity, upbeat electronic film scores and melancholy, serious traditional style soundtracks. In fact, this obscure little genre called “film scores” has so many different types of songs for so many different genres of music, that anyone who likes music could find themselves enjoying listening to film scores without the movie.
Now I’ll list those 5 reasons and towards the bottom I have some film score recommendations for those of you who are new to the genre.
1) They broaden your imagination. Oh, yes. I could talk on and on about this reason, but I’ll keep it simple. This fact starts with a movie you’ve seen over and over again. Take the music from that movie and listen to it on its own; you can easily picture scenes from that movie that goes along with the track you’re listening to.
There’s another way to use your imagination, and that is to listen to film scores to movies that you have not yet seen. For example, I found a soundtrack from Star Trek: First Contact. I’d never seen any Star Trek movies at the time, but I fell in love with the epic melody, majestic feel, and the unique use of instruments (it happens to be one of the more popular Star Trek themes, you can listen to it here). I decided to make up a scene of my own to go along with the song in my head. There’s a lot of different feelings in this song, and the scene I made up to go along with it fit with the ever changing mood by the second. For instance, the song begins quietly and the lone trumpet ascends to a crescendo — I pictured someone running up a hill — and once the music reached full epic blast, the person in my scene came to the top of the hill and was looking down a cliff at a gorgeous waterfall and a community of dragons. It went on from there.
2) They introduce you to new movies. To be honest with you, I probably would have never had How to Train Your Dragon as one of my favorite fandoms if it hadn’t been for Pandora’s film music station. I had no idea the movie even existed, but there I was, listening to music from a Pirates of the Caribbean radio, when a cute-looking animation cover came up. I was astounded to hear such an amazing — unspeakably incredible — soundtrack from what looked like a little kid’s film. My family heard it also, and we decided to get the movie.
And now, look. How to Train Your Dragon is now and probably will forever be my #1 favorite animated movie. Thanks, random film score Pandora station. Listening to Pandora is a great idea, because it also introduces you to new film scores … and then you’ll fall in love with film scores to movies you’ve never seen … thus you’ll be finding out about new movies through your love of their music. That’s how I began wanting to see the Batman Trilogy, Lord of the Rings, you name it. It’s one of the Little Big happenings in life I love.
As a side note, my friend used to ask me if I’d seen this movie and this movie or this movie. My response was always: “Nope, but the music to that is really good.” Go figure.
3) They help you write. I cannot stress the importance of this point enough. I explain more in depth why listening to film scores helps with fiction writing in the post on my blog here.
For the fiction writer: If you listen to music that fits a certain scene’s mood (and believe me, film scores were made JUST for that purpose!), it will enhance your ability to convey those musical emotions through your writing, thus improving the quality of your writing. I don’t know about you, but I love my favorite books and movies because of the emotions, the characters’ struggles, the suspense, the sorrow, the joy and ecstacy, the freedom, majesty … the list goes on. And there’s a lot of film scores with various emotions you should listen to while writing.
For the essay/school/research paper writer: There’s a lot of film scores that can motivate you … pretty much anything by Hans Zimmer or Steve Jablonsky, or just any high-winded, suspenseful, tense track will do just as well. Super happy, epic, funny music (I’m talking all the Pirates of the Caribbean tracks) can also put you in a positive mood while working —whether it be writing, house chores, homework, etc. Of course, this goes for any type of music … just listen to anything that’ll keep you motivated when it comes to working and you’ll be pretty well off.
4) They get you “in the mood.” In the mood for anything. Remember, film scores were composed specifically for mood, so depending on what type of mood you’re in or want to be, listen to those type of film scores.
This will sound funny, but film scores also give me hope. Tracks such as the Jurassic Park theme (dinosaurs and hope, goes perfectly), the End Credits for Star Trek: First Contact, Flight from Man of Steel, Superman Theme, Do You Hear the People Sing from Les Mis (a tearjerker in a good way), Coryinhinus from Batman Begins (could also be sad), In Dreams and Rohan (the violin part) from LotR, Forbidden Friendship from HTTYD, One Day from At World’s End, etc. etc. etc.
There’s also really good film scores to listen to while running or working out — please don’t listen to that junky techno stuff. Pretty much anything tense and motivational (like the ones listed in the last writing paragraph) goes. Two Steps from Hell is another artist I highly recommend for this sort of thing; they’re not technically film scores (though they should be) and their songs are all epic, noblebright, battle-worthy music.
And of course, if you’re feeling depressed, there’s an endless variety of film scores to choose from. The ones I tend to listen to a lot are very upbeat, fun, ecstasical and epic scores (there’s a lot mentioned in the list below. Don’t be depressed, there’s a good chap.)
5) It’s great for enhancing music appreciation. I’ve heard scandalous, awful, electronic whizes and bangs on the radio before. I learned later that this dissonant noise was called music and came to the conclusion that it shouldn’t ever have been called music in the first place *cough* and that’s a personal opinion. But some people listen to pop, rap, R&B, rock, heavy metal, jazz, reggae, and that’s all good stuff. Film scores can appeal to people with any taste in music because there’s so many different types of film scores out there; upbeat, hardcore electronic, orchestral. Any music composed for any kind of movie could even sound like any other kind of genre of music; take Parley from PotC or Fireworks from Harry Potter, for example; both have electric guitar. Some popular songs have also been used in movies to portray feels and emotions—Send Me On My Way from Ice Age and Stayin’ Alive from … too many to list.
If you never liked classical music, film scores could get you into it, as most of them are interesting to listen to, but incorporate a traditional orchestra. If you never cared for symphonies, film scores could change that preference. Film scores could also introduce different types of instruments you’ve never heard before and could increase your interest in music in general, as well as the movies they were made for. Film scores honestly do not get enough attention or acclaim, and I really don’t understand why. Film scores are amazing works of art and it should be universally understood that movies today would not be what they are now if it were not for film scores themselves. Movie soundtracks is why we love movies.Without it, movies would be dry. Uninteresting. Awkward.
Be thankful for film scores, the emotion behind the movie, and try listening to one or two. I guarantee you’ll love them and want to listen to more. I have a 6th reason, but it seemed too self-explanatory to include in the title, but here it is:
6) They help you geek out about your favorite movies. Heh-heh. I think this is the MAIN reason why I’ve ever listened to film scores and why I continue to do so, honestly. I’m a huge nerd and film scores are a big part of my fangirling career. You readers of Constant Collectible may never understand. *sarcastic cough* Maybe this should have been the first reason. Moving on …
Now, for that list of film score recommendations to get you started.
Star Wars: Pretty much every track from these movies are great, but the best ones go as follows: Main Theme (you haven’t heard that before), Impreial March, Battle of the Heros, Rey’s Theme, Flag Parade, March on the Jedi Temple, Across the Stars, Augie’s Great Municipal Band, Scherzo for X-Wings, Imperial Attack (my fav out of all), Duel of the Fates, and March of the Resistance.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Sparrow’s Theme, The Kraken, He’s a Pirate, Swords Crossed, Davy Jones, Up is Down, One Day, Singapore, Underwater March, Fog Bound, The Medallion Calls, Moonlight Serenade
Harry Potter: Fawkes the Phoenix, Hedwig’s Theme, Harry’s Wondrous World, Dumbledore’s Army, Professor Umbridge, Fireworks, The Chamber of Secrets (every single song in that album), Hogwarts Hymn, Hogwarts March
Avenger Movies: Heros, Avengers Unite. Thor: Thor Kills the Destroyer, Earth to Asgard. Captain America: Triumphant Return and March. Iron Man: Battle Finale (Iron Man 3), Ivan Creates Drones (Iron Man 2)
Star Trek: Uhh…pretty much every single main theme ever composed for any Star Trek movie.
And there’s so many more film scores I highly recommend, but it would take a long time to write down and you might feel overwhelmed, but that list pretty much sums up all the most popular film scores you’ll find. Thanks for reading this post and don’t forget to at least listen to The Imperial March. Because: Darth Vader.