Ongoing Issues in Film Music

It is interesting to read about the Apparatus of the Sound Film according to Carlos Chávez seeing that he never actually wrote a successful film score try as he might. It is clear that Chávez has a wealth of knowledge on this subject and many of the issues he discusses in Chapter 5: The Sound of Film, relate to the present day. I am going to discuss some of the issues he presents, specifically focusing on dubbing in film scores and the ever-present issue of popular music versus western music.


“In movie slang, dubbing means the joining together of those practices and procedures of re-recording necessary for the montage of a film which are not precisely those related to the synchronous taking of sight and sound. Dubbing includes pre-scoring, and the various kinds of re-recording.” – Carlos Chávez


Dubbing is still relevant in music today. It is a delicate process that requires the balancing of various elements at the same time. For example in a movie there could be a scene that includes dialogue, musical background, some sort of atmosphere (such as a storm or murmuring) and incidental noises. The dubbing mixers proceed to balance all of the elements together and then record the finished soundtrack. Dubbing has taken on a new meaning today, it is often used to enable the screening of audiovisual material to an audience in countries where the audience does not speak the same language as the performers in the original production.


Chávez presents an argument that really hits home today. In his section The Films and Contemporary Music, Chávez delves into the never-ending battle between contemporary and more traditional music.


“It would be easy to content ourselves with the answer that there will always be an elite music for the minorities and a popular music for the masses, and let it go at that. But this over-simple answer will suffice only with difficulty, for it requires us to believe that the most cultured and intelligent artists, the so-called geniuses of art, those who have created its progress, have always produced an art for minorities, and the majorities have been able to like and make use of lofty human conceptions.” – Carlos Chávez


This is an ongoing issue today. The idea of those that listen to cultured music as being in the minority has been a continuous pattern for at least the past 100 years. As a classical musician, I will never truly understand why this is. Why the majority seems aloof and disinterested in western music.


– Jamille Brewster –







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