There’s nothing more annoying for me then to see a movie or newscast but not be able to hear it. Even if I’ve seen the movie before and know exactly what is happening, there’s just an essential piece missing. This is because a major way that the media uses to grab our attention and build the mood is by the addition of sound, mainly music. Early screenwriters acknowledged this before talking was available in movies. They used musical numbers to signal the audience when drama was building and what kind of drama it was. For example, if two characters on screen were beginning to get angry at each other, the music would build up and get louder so the audience understood it was getting heated.
So to further research my topic, I pulled up a soap opera on my laptop and experimented listening to it with and without music. Days of Our Lives, a popular soap opera featured on ABC, relies heavily on dramatic music to build intensity. Even though I hate to admit it, I actually got into the show and was enjoying myself when I remembered the reason I was watching it in the first place. So I clicked the mute button on my laptop and even though soap opera’s are incredibly easy to follow, it simply wasn’t entertaining anymore. The show was flat, everything seemed the exact same intensity. Without the musical background to the show, I was unmotivated to continue to watch the show.
In most modern movies, the musical soundtrack either makes or breaks a movie. For example, the recent version of Tron Legacy that came out in theaters featured a sound track made entirely by Daft Punk. Without the soundtrack the movie looks extremely cheesy and unbelievable. But the electronic other-worldly music pounding in the background set a tone for the movie that made it easily believable and frankly awesome. It transformed otherwise lack-luster scenes into pulse-pounding scenes that kept you glued to the screen.
Music isn’t used just in movies or sitcoms and television shows, it is used in real life events such as sporting events and shows. Heavily beating bass music is used before football games to pump up both the players and the audience and set the mood for a high-energy game. Monster truck rallies use similar techniques to make the smashing of cars more entertaining for viewers. In both such events, when the music rises people stop what they’re doing and look, because they’ve been trained to expect to see something awesome when they hear a music buildup. The media has trained us to act in certain ways on cues, much like a laugh track tells us when to laugh even if we didn’t particularly find it funny.