It was actually a friend of mine who got me into movie soundtracks a couple years ago. He had a movie score from an early Italian horror film. I think I migh have been Suspiria, but I can’t remember. Anyway, rather than watching the movie, we sat down and listened to the soundtrack. It was pretty ambient and meant to set a frightening and alien mood, but somehow it was even more powerful when it was by itself. If I had been watching the movie at the time, I doubt I would have really registered it very much. I would’ve just watched the movie as a whole. But listening to it on its own, I can truly understand its artistry.
After listening to that, I went online and looked up a list of movie soundtracks. I discovered that there was a lot of variety in the type of music used in movies. Usually, it comes in one of two varieties. Some movies use actual songs peppered with incidental moments as their soundtracks. In other movies, the soundtrack is more of a score. It is basically a continuous piece of instrumental music that is played from the beginning to the very end of the movie. This approach creates a more ambient feel, but tends to sell less CDs. People all remember that one catchy tune, and as a result they go out and buy the movie soundtrack.
I think both styles of movie soundtracks have something going for them. Like everyone else, I like to hear catchy new songs in movies. I like the fact that old artists I haven’t heard from for a while can be brought back by a features in a new Hollywood film. At the same time, I appreciate the ways that movie scores can be so seamlessly incorporated into the structure of movies. Either way, listening to movie music is a lot of fun.