The Power of Music in Film and Video

Music and Emotions

A specific emotion can be invoked through the power of music and it is actually hard to imagine a time wherein music is not present in film. But there was indeed a time when people enjoyed movies that do not have music in them like the comedies that starred Charlie Chaplin. However, there is still an obvious missing element with this movies and that was why live music was played during the showing of this movies. And the amazing part was that they mostly made it up and there was no written score.

Music undoubtedly plays a big role in providing viewers with a whole new experience when it comes to films. A simple scene can become much more meaningful when paired with a soulful music. And there is scientific proof that music does affect our brain in a way that allows us to feel emotions that are both real and inexplicable.

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Alive Inside

A study By Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D. delve a little more into the psychological impact of music on audiences. Initially, the formula for musical accompaniment was psychologically quite simple:

  • When the screen presented the villain, the pianist played a diminished minor chord progression. This was used to convey an eerie feeling.
  • When the screen presented a hero, the pianist played an uplifting anthem.
  • In a fast-paced scene, such as a chase, the pianist accompanied this with a fast-paced tempo piece, giving the audience a running sensation.
  • The pianist played tunes off the top of his head (like organists at sports events), ranging from classics to moderns, so long as they were consistent with what was on the screen.
  • Later, full orchestras in large film emporiums began to replace the sole pianist and exact musical scores began to replace the improvisational style of the pianist. (Interestingly, a few years ago, some film historians had re-struck an old print of Able France’s 1927 silent French epic movie Napoleon. In Los Angeles, they brought in Carmine Coppola, Francis Ford’s father, to conduct the full orchestra which accompanied the showing. It was quite the Hollywood event! Yet, it wasn’t the most careful or smooth conducting and orchestration, because music must serve the pace of the screen story, rather than the integrity of the orchestral work accompanying onscreen action. This accommodation to movie reality usually requires tinkering with tempo and complete musical passages.)
  • Conductors were brought in to orchestrate classics or even compose new scores for films. It was also designed to provide movies with CLASS to produce legitimacy rather than being a vulgar alternative to a vulgar burlesque, vaudeville, low culture reputation the film medium had cultivated early on.


Incorporating the right music in every film or video is as crucial as actually picking a story or directing a scene. It can give the right effect and invoke the right emotions with a simple note or song. It is a fact that filmmakers should not ignore and it is an element that can have a huge impact on the overall feel of a scene or a video.