An introduction to Project Crazypants

I have a theory about movie music: it should be another aspect of world-building. Just as you build sets and pick out costumes and do all the rest in order to create the illusion of a world that doesn't actually exist (in the movies, not even real-world places are real, if only because they're framed by the camera; by choosing my shots carefully, I can make it look like I live in the middle of the forest, even though I don't), so too should the music. That is, it shouldn't simply be written in a way to give emotional cues to the audience, but rather also to fit the world it's inhabiting/accompanying.

What does this mean? Well, just as you wouldn't give cellphones to characters who're supposed to be in a pre-industrial age world, you might want to consider avoiding a modern orchestra when writing music for a pre-modern orchestra world.

This all has a specific point, and that point is why I just created a "project crazypants" tag. I should probably also create a "Lord of the Rings" tag, except I'm pretty sure I wouldn't ever use it separately from the project crazypants one, so why bother? I'm certainly not going to be writing fanfic for it, so. (There's nothing I want to fix! For the book, at least.)

My point (finally getting to it) is that all the music in the LotR movies is completely misused, and here's how I'd do it if they'd asked me: lose the orchestra. Lose the highly repetitive themes that become kind of annoying after the first couple of viewings. And replace it with something much more spare. What instruments would actually be available in Middle Earth at the time? Try to stick to those, and keep the size of the ensemble to chamber orchestra, at most. Also, if you're going to have songs in the movie, use some of the ones in the book. (There's an awful lot of them, and I should know: I typed them all up one week when I first got this bee in my bonnet. It took a while.)

Actually, the real point of this is that I wanted an excuse to share this video, which shows the range that can be produced by a few period instruments. Also, it's nice background music.
It's something I play with when I'm working with my hands but not my head--or whenever I listen to Tolkien-inspired music (which I'm slowly collecting). I drove myself a little crazy one day by listening to the soundtrack from The Two Towers on repeat, and that was really the cincher.

There will be more of these--like I said, I typed up all the songs from the books, and I want to talk about those, and whether or not they could fit into a film adaptation; I also want to evaluate all that Tolkien-inspired music, because some of it fits into the world of the books pretty well, and some of it's doing different things entirely.

Edited at 2014-07-12 04:24 pm (UTC)
Tolkien's songs are lovely. Did you ever hear the BBC Radio play? I loved their version of "Seek for the sword which was broken". I know that's not strictly a song but it was truly haunting.
I haven't, although I've read good things about it. And thanks to the power of Youtube, I'm now listening to "Seek for the sword...", which is indeed haunting.
Isn't it though? I was surprised to see how many high-quality recordings there are on Youtube of similar style music. It's a bit encouraging, actually: pop music is obviously not killing everything off.
Because I have a liking to almost all music out there I can appreciate many different types.