I always wanted to make soundtracks. As a kid, I put together playlists (mix tapes, for the analog crowd) for movies I wrote in my head. Later, when I learned to play instruments and got my hands on a four-track cassette recorder (and later, ProTools), I created my own scores.
I’m a huge fan of a number of composers who work primarily in film: Hans Zimmer, James Horner… Who knows if it’s because they work in film or it’s why they work in film, but their music is as cinematic as the images that show over the tunes. The pieces are amazing in the films, and just as wonderful on their own, standing alone.
That, I think, is the mark of an excellent score — music that not only enhances the meaning and feeling of the movie, but that evokes visions on its own while played about from the visuals.
TV, movies, documentaries — doesn’t matter which it is. If it’s a visual medium, start paying more notice to the music behind the action. Some of it is obvious, some so sublime that you’ve seen the piece a thousand times and never noticed the sound. In your head, change the music, and notice how the visuals and their impact change, as well.
It’s funny that actors and directors get so much credit for making or breaking a movie or TV show. It’s very obvious when they’ve done their job poorly. But musicians can completely change the emotion behind the film, for better or worse. It’s amazing to think how much of an intertwining there is between vision and sound, and how much each can affect the other.