Music in Movies

“Perhaps no other form of human communication is as effective as music in providing atmosphere, feeling, or mood.”

Alten, S. Audio in media, (p. 276).


Music is one of the most powerful factor which contributes to the successful of getting audience’s emotions. Whether it is a horror, action or a romantic comedy film, music can imitate  a deeper message and feeling.

As mentioned in Alten’s book, “Since 1971, when Oscars were first awarded to individual sound mixers, film credits for sound production have expanded to include recordists; sound effects, music”. Music has become an indispensable feature.

When I first watched The Holiday (2006), Hans Zimmer, a German composer and record producer, soon became my favourite music composer.

 It is the opening scene when Kate Winslet (Iris) talks about the different kinds of love. The music is so amazing that I have always been thrilled with emotion in my nearly 10 times watching this movie, over and over again.

Alten has stated in his book, “Style is a fixed, identifiable, musical quality uniquely expressed, executed, or performed.”

The Holiday completed soundtrack includes 20 songs with various musical instruments, but has a same tone colour of melody and rhythm. It is likely a brand-identity. For everyone has seen ‘The Holiday’, I ensure that whenever you listen to these masterpieces by accident, you will be reminded of the lissom combination between the background music and other sounds, including the actors’ dialogue.

Alten described “Depicting Identity” as “A dark, brooding theme can characterise the “bad guy”. Tender music can indicate a gentle, sympathetic personality. Strong, evenly rhythmic music can suggest the relentless character who will destroy the character who is depicted by thin-sounding, syncopated music.”

There is no doubt to agree. However, a really soft, tender music tone which is inserted in a bloody violent scene might be new exciting experience. 

 Angel of the Morning, performed by Juice Newton, is played along with a frozen messy killing scene in the beginning of Dead-pool (2016). It has created a really unique impression for the audience, including me.

Contrast with the fight scene on the high way is an 80s music theme, which has a slow tempo, bright colour and a chorus line “Just call me angel of the morning, angel”, is a big surprise when the screen is shown with Dead-pool wearing a red tight body suit with his mask, is in the middle of the air killing other guys.

I have to say, the music editor has done a really good job. I was astonished and laughing at the same time. The interaction is hilarious, and yes, the movie is successful in creating its first impression of its protagonist, a not-too serious character, and the movie as well.

Alten’s work is so much in detailed. It not only includes his vision and perspective of sound design in film and electronic media, but also rich audio technical knowledge. As a ten-year music student, I appreciate and admire his understanding, as well as his book. “Audio in Media” is really high recommended for every sound student and designer in media industry.


Alten, S. Audio in Media, (p. 5-12, p.266-286). Belmont: Wadsworth, 1994.

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