The Role of Music in Cinematography Essay

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Music is an art that creates images by combining sounds and silence. It can serve as each an unbiased artist and as an accompaniment to other art forms. Although it might seem that in the latter case, music is secondary, it’s a highly effective device the position of which is often essential.

For instance, music is broadly used in films. Here, music can be diegetic and non-diegetic. Diegetic music originates in the plot; characters can hear it. It often signifies the place and time or peculiarities of the setting. Non-diegetic music is “background music” that communicates the psychological aspects of the story, coloring the actions that take place on the display, exhibiting the pace of on-display screen occasions, and creating the atmosphere (“Diegetic Music’” par. 1-four). By using the ways the human mind generally interprets various mixtures of sounds, music “directs consideration, induces mood, communicates that means, cues memory, heightens arousal and suspends disbelief, and… adds an aesthetic dimension” (Cohen, 17-18). Therefore, it can be argued that the art of cinematography can be crippled without music.

In our paper, we are going to consider three examples of films: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Inception, and Interstellar, and describe some components of music that are recurrent in these films.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) is the primary movie in the famous fantasy heptalogy. The movie was directed by Christopher Joseph Columbus; the music was written by John Williams.

One of the major themes employed within the film is “Hedwig’s Theme.” It represents the feelings and experiences the young boy has whereas coming into the wizarding world (Webster 90). The theme creates the anticipation of something mysterious however benevolent. Despite being initially meant just for scenes with Harry’s owl, the theme was utilized in many components in the movie, as well as in some of the following Harry Potter movies (“John Williams Themes” par. 2).

The most distinctive instrument played within the theme is the celeste. The ensuing sound can be electronically managed, makes the music “literally unreal” (“John Williams Themes” par. 5). The theme begins with a excessive register, which then modifications to a lower register; this normally happens in steps, but generally also in leaps.

The meter of the “Hedwig’s Theme” is three-beat. This causes “a feeling of class and style” and the impression of lightness, which characterizes the magical world as it’s often perceived by children (“John Williams Themes” par. 19). The tempo of the melody is moderate.

It is obtainable to split the “Hedwig’s Theme” into two sections; it is possible to plainly name them “A” and “B.” In the musical clip accompanying the article on the subject, the half “A” occupies the next intervals: 00:00-00:17, 00:forty five-01:01, 01:18-01:35 (“John Williams Themes” par. three).

The Hedwig theme occupies the important thing of E minor. On the other hand, the chord progressions, on this case, are not characteristic of a minor key. If we consider Fig. 1, it’s attainable to note that the bars #1 and #2 show the E minor chord and that E is prolonged into the fifth bar; that offers us the important thing. On the other hand, an uncommon chord appears in bar #6 unexpectedly (“John Williams Themes” par. 6):

It could be seen that the sixth bar employs the following sequence of notes: B-D#-F-A#. This sequence is analogous to the notes utilized in the dominant chord #7 of E minor, namely B-D#-F#-A. It is argued that by utilizing F instead of F# and A# as a substitute of A, the composer establishes an odd and unexplainable chord, which is suitable for the magical world of Harry Potter (“John Williams Themes” par. 7).

The identical unusualness happens within the next a part of the section; as follows from Fig. 2, the ninth and tenth bars are the unique E minor chord; in distinction, bars #11 and #12 give the music an entirely unexpected course, for the three extra minor chords appear not to be connected to each other. This function offers the listener the sensation of a fairytale thriller (“John Williams Themes” par. eight).

It ought to be noted that, while analyzing the melody of the part “A,” it might prove useful to interrupt it into a pair of separate phrases (see Fig. three); bars #1-5 solely include the notes characteristic of E minor, whereas the bar #6 uncommonly employs the observe F. It performs a double operate: being a part of the odd dominant-like harmony in the given bar, it concurrently produces unusual intervals in the melody. Being preceded by D#, this note F “takes the minor third we would have had and ‘squashes’ it right into a diminished third, and with the next B, it ‘squashes’ an ideal fifth into a diminished fifth” (“John Williams Themes” par. 14).

Identical intervals occur close to the end of the part “A.” They may be seen in bars #13-15; on the other hand, a further tone appears in this case (see Fig. three). These weird intervals encountered in both phrases imbue the theme with the ability to cause the feeling of magic and wonder.


Inception is a science fiction movie directed by Christopher Nolan. The music to this 2010 film was written by Hans Zimmer. Background music is played almost constantly in the film, letting the viewers continuously expertise a circulate of strong feelings and feelings.

It is interesting that there usually are not many themes or motifs in the movie, but there are numerous rhythms, as well as ambient sounds (Broxton par. 4). One of the rhythmic parts is an easy iambic rhythm; it occurs in a variety of tracks. It could be heard, as an example, within the music named “Half-Remembered Dream,” which is then adopted by “We Built Our Own World.” It is highlighted that the composer took this rhythm from the famous Edith Piaf’s song, “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” (which can be heard all through the movie as a diegetic sound utilized by Cobb and his team of “extractors”), and altered it by drastically slowing it down to rework it into “one thing large and imposing” (“The excellent film soundtrack” par. 2).

This rhythm is also employed by the composer in a series of paired string chords. It is pointed out that “the languor of the strings concurrently suggests each melancholy and a hazy sense of time passing, becoming considering the movie’s emphasis on concentric dream-states” (“The excellent film soundtrack” par. three). It is price noting that, after the songs “Half-Remembered Dream” and “We Built Our Own World” finish, they’re instantly adopted by the “Dream Is Collapsing” track, which utilizes one other motif. This composition employs a recurrent chord development: firstly, G minor – F# main; then, E flat main – B major; and, finally, it seesaws between G and F#. It is stressed that “this intimate opening turns into the minimalistic backdrop for a huge orchestral crescendo, culminating in a fortissimo climax that unites this chord sequence with the principal concept, the iambic rhythm” (“The perfect film soundtrack” par. 3).

It should be highlighted that nearly each scene within the film consists of some kind of musical accompaniment, which imbues even the simplest actions with “an ‘epic’ feel,” making the emotions of the viewers wealthy and profound (“Hans Zimmer – Inception Music Analysis” par. 4).


Interstellar (2014) is another science fiction movie directed by Nolan. The movie was nominated for Oscar in 2015 (“Oscar Nominees 2015” par. 1). The music for the movie was also written by Zimmer. The composer makes use of a pipe organ while playing non-diegetic music to create certain associations with faith or, somewhat, with sure features of existence that faith is usually perceived to take care of. The movie just isn’t non secular, though. It creates the sensation of greatness and immensity of the universe, and characters of the movie strive towards this greatness, thus transcending the extent of strange existence (hence the analogy with faith) (“Oscar Nominees 2015” par. 2-4).

The music utilized in Interstellar skillfully connects the assorted matters employed in the film, particularly, those of familial love (between Cooper and his daughter Murph) and intense action, utilizing a single theme for each matters, indicating the connection between the 2; the topic of marvel (which is represented by a separate theme); and the topic of striving for management and attaining it (another separate theme) (“Oscar Nominees 2015” par. 23).

This theme of wonder is connected to the exciting and impressive concepts of interstellar travel using wormholes, the discovery of exoplanets, and colonization of distant stellar systems; it expresses the feeling of fascination with the enchanting universe. It appears within the movie a couple of times, for instance, when Cooper and his staff first come aboard onto their spaceship of Endurance, once they journey through the wormhole, and when Cooper and Mann investigate one of the exoplanets.

One of probably the most noticeable traits of this theme is its continuing accompaniment, as well as constant repetition of the identical melodic pitch (see Fig. 4). It is highlighted that this accompaniment maintains a chord with a “dissonance created by the raised four of the scale” (“Oscar Nominees 2015” par. 18). This very scale diploma is often used to induce feelings related to the enigmatic, magnificent, and incomprehensible (“Oscar Nominees 2015” par. 18).


Music isn’t solely an impartial kind of art; it additionally often serves as an accompaniment to many other kinds of labor. Nowadays, each film incorporates music as its integral part. The features that music performs in films are many; they embody attracting and directing the viewer’s consideration, influencing their temper, speaking psychological aspects of the story, exhibiting the pace of on-display screen occasions, etc. For occasion, in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the “Hedwig’s Theme” supplies the viewers with the sensation that benevolent, fairytale magic awaits them within the movie. In Inception, the composer employs music to continuously keep the viewers on the edge of their seat, to communicate the feeling of danger or excitement.

Finally, the Wonder Theme in Interstellar expresses the sensation of awe and fascination with the magnificence and immensity of the universe. The music in films effectively utilizes the best way the human mind processes and interprets sounds, making cinematography much more exciting and colourful, and speaking some features which might otherwise be very troublesome to express. It could be argued that without any music, the artwork of cinematography might be thought of crippled.

Works Cited

Broxton, Jonathan. Inception – Hans Zimmer. 2010. Web.

Diegetic Music, Non-Diegetic Music, and ‘Source Scoring. 2013. Web.

Hans Zimmer – Inception Music Analysis. 2013. Web.

John Williams Themes, Part 6 of 6: Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter. 2013. Web.

Oscar Nominees 2015, Best Original Score (Part 5 of 6): Hans Zimmer’s Interstellar. 2015. Web.

The excellent film soundtrack: Hans Zimmer – Inception. 2010. Web.

Webster, Jamie Lynn 2009, The Music of Harry Potter: Continuity and Change within the First Five Films. Web.





Type Essay
Pages 6
Words 1778

Language 🇺🇸 English

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