Film Score Monthly
FSM HOME MESSAGE BOARD FSM CDs FSM ONLINE RESOURCES FUN STUFF ABOUT US  SEARCH FSM   
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 Posted:   Mar 1, 2014 - 2:44 PM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

There used to be a radio station in Atlanta during the 70's that my parents listened to, referred to as Easy Listening, 94.9 PEACH, ALL MUSIC, ALL THE TIME. It was horrific to me and my siblings. A glossy, instrumental versions of famous pop songs. Gah.

In the '70s, Miami's WLYF "Life. 101.5" was the first radio FM station to get a number one audience rating. My grandparents listened to it all the time. It would be on the blonde-wood console stereo when I would come over on weekends. It all sounded so sterile and...I don't know, "institutional"? lol Nowadays I actually don't look back with any bad vibes. It's all nostalgia now.

 
 Posted:   Mar 1, 2014 - 3:40 PM   
 By:   Mark R. Y.   (Member)

This thread makes me wonder, are there any movies featuring muzak that uses the theme of the film itself? You'll sometimes have source music that mimics the movie's theme or style, but I can't recall if this has been done for elevator music?

The Long Goodbye, perhaps?


And Raising Arizona.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 1, 2014 - 6:07 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO DANA- WHY would it be a slap in the face for a film composer's music to be call muzak. Most people I know liked those stations [easy listening stations] music more then film music. Personally I miss those days when I would hear that calm music mixed in with our daily activities, at work, on elevators, eating supper at home [dad or grandpa's house] They often would throw in songs mixed in with those pleasing instrumentals that were not played much on the other stations like TODAY[MIKE CURB] A BETTER MAN[BACHARACH ETC ETC]

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 1, 2014 - 6:13 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO DOUG RAYNES-I agree with you ,wonderful music.It creates a calming environment in this too hectic world we live in. I miss those days.

 
 Posted:   Mar 1, 2014 - 10:11 PM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

TO DANA- WHY would it be a slap in the face for a film composer's music to be call muzak. Most people I know liked those stations [easy listening stations] music more then film music. Personally I miss those days when I would hear that calm music mixed in with our daily activities, at work, on elevators, eating supper at home [dad or grandpa's house] They often would throw in songs mixed in with those pleasing instrumentals that were not played much on the other stations like TODAY[MIKE CURB] A BETTER MAN[BACHARACH ETC ETC]

TO DAN THE MAN -- The reason is: Creating "pleasantness" is just about never what the film composer seeks to achieve. I guarantee you that no serious film composer would take kindly to having the music he or she wrote to heighten the tension in a suspense film, tweak the heartstrings in a love scene or speed up the pulse in an action scene equated to something "pleasant and calming like Muzak." Seriously, do you think that the function of a film score is the same as the function of Muzak (i.e., slightly diminishing the level of boredom among passengers in an elevator ascending from the lobby to the 3rd floor)? Is that how you judge the quality of a film score? Muzak may be "wonderful music" in the minds of some, but what has that to do with the function of film music?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 12:58 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Well, in terms of function, dan the man has a point. Film music and muzak may be distant relatives, at least.

Muzak has an obvious pragmatic function -- it's supposed to work subliminally to reduce claustrophobia (and boredom, as you say) in elevators, or to reduce stress levels in supermarket customers so they will buy more items. Granted, it's not that common anymore, but just last week I was at my doctor's and they played pan pipe moods-type music in the waiting room -- again to diminish rising agitation because of the long waiting time and whatever illness you have.

Obviously, film music is supposed to do more than that, and reducing it to muzak would be basically the same as the age-old prejudice "the best film music is the one you don't hear". That's too passive. However, the subliminal and pragmatic function is more or less the same. It's supposed to guide a spectator's emotional pattern without drawing attention to its deliberate manipulation (at least in classical Hollywood films).

Several authors have made this connection -- check out, for example, the anthology book "Music and Emotion", which explores both film music and muzak in such a fashion (in different chapters):

http://www.amazon.com/Music-Emotion-Research-Affective-Science/dp/0192631888

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 4:32 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

TO DOUG RAYNES-I agree with you ,wonderful music.It creates a calming environment in this too hectic world we live in.

I agree Dan. I was in the cafe of my local supermarket this morning and couldn't help notice the raucous pop/rock mucic which was playing. Years ago they would have been playing soothing relaxing music, which was far more pleasant and suitable for the surroundings.

Most people - at least in the past - traditionally associated film music with easy listening and in record shops, albums were usually to be found in the Easy Listening section. Film music tended to appeal to those people who liked orchestral music but found classical music too "heavy".

 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 7:16 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

Well, in terms of function, dan the man has a point. Film music and muzak may be distant relatives, at least.

Muzak has an obvious pragmatic function -- it's supposed to work subliminally to reduce claustrophobia (and boredom, as you say) in elevators, or to reduce stress levels in supermarket customers so they will buy more items. Granted, it's not that common anymore, but just last week I was at my doctor's and they played pan pipe moods-type music in the waiting room -- again to diminish rising agitation because of the long waiting time and whatever illness you have.

Obviously, film music is supposed to do more than that, and reducing it to muzak would be basically the same as the age-old prejudice "the best film music is the one you don't hear". That's too passive. However, the subliminal and pragmatic function is more or less the same. It's supposed to guide a spectator's emotional pattern without drawing attention to its deliberate manipulation (at least in classical Hollywood films).

Several authors have made this connection -- check out, for example, the anthology book "Music and Emotion", which explores both film music and muzak in such a fashion (in different chapters):

http://www.amazon.com/Music-Emotion-Research-Affective-Science/dp/0192631888


I think the reason no such comparisons would sit well with a film composer is the content of the Muzak itself. Whether old standard or current pop tune, each song is systematically ground down and glossed-up into a formulaic pablum whose function is more comparable actually to that of the record that played over and over in Nurse Ratched's day room at the asylum in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST than to a composer's sweated-over, edgy dramatic accompaniment to a film. Don't look for any minor keys or chords in Muzak! The supposed similarities you point out in the "function" of the two forms (and I don't necessarily concede that point) are less important than the differences in the actual content and creative intent of the two. Muzak is basically auditory anesthesia for the distracted, troubled or bored mind, and strives to be nothing so much as...well, a subliminally pleasant bit of nothing at all! Film music strives to be something, to wit, a contributory piece of a cinematic puzzle which, when its elements coalesce at a high creative level, could be regarded as art! Consider the comparison we are all familiar with in the example of the driving scene at the beginning of PSYCHO, first without and then with the music. Can Herrmann's highly effective, tension-building score for that scene be equated to elevator music, in either form or function?

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 7:28 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

Yeah, I don't disagree with you. I'm just saying there's a kinship (albeit distant) in terms of the psychological mechanisms at play.

 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 7:48 AM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

Yeah, I don't disagree with you. I'm just saying there's a kinship (albeit distant) in terms of the psychological mechanisms at play.

Agreed, and yet, I think to say that DTM "has a point" overstates that kinship. You lend his comment far more consideration than it deserves.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 8:17 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Well it does come down to personal likings as well as creative efforts. I think we can agree every artistic endeavor tries to serve a purpose in this world. One could argue for eternity what really is ART and what is not. First hand being a artist myself I have heard in my life thousands of snobbish remarks made by the media and the common man or woman on the street telling you this is art this isn't. I never could accept their elite viewpoints. Is there one wise enough to say it is truly written in stone what is art and what effort is not. Even if there was some truth to be found on that issue in this world we live in most of our assumptions would be wrong. That common line there might be a answer but most people don't know that answer is so true.MR RAYNES makes some solid viewpoints on a chunk of film music lovers. A while back I stated this on a thread why do I really like film music. I started to like it because I found the melodic line of so many themes to be more satisfying then the melodic line on much of top 40 music. Many of my early exposure to film music came from compilation lp's out of the 60's. I felt too much pop music lack the type of melody that could touch my soul and hum as well through the day. From there like others I started to explore whole scores and also appreciate the mood elements[check HOUSE OF WAX THREAD] as well and like it too. But to be honest if I started with the mood instead of the melody maybe I would have not taken it further or as far. Doug makes a good point CLASSICAL, HEAVY- I LIKE CLASSICAL MUSIC AS WELL, but often one just does not have all that time and mood for it.Give me a good melody 24/7.Now as for the creative issue of the performers I understand what Dana and THOR is saying, sure. But let me add all things in a creative sense have worth. There is a wonderful episode of FRASIER where Frasier wants to write a theme for his show and he wants to do a big production, but the whole cast convinces him by the end of the show sometimes simple can be better. if you never saw this show I would recommended for all music lovers.My point as well is why DANA do you look down at another form of creativity which can serve a purpose as well.

 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 8:45 AM   
 By:   The Projectionist   (Member)



Wow I didn't realize this would turn in to such an informative debate and discussion as it has. Please enjoy some music designed to keep the tension down. So that things don't get too heated. BTW I had heard of the word MUZAK but I had assumed it was a European way of saying music. Stupid American <-----

 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 11:39 AM   
 By:   Recordman   (Member)

"This is customer service...we're experiencing a higher than normal call volume right now...Please hold" - click (and it begins)

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 11:56 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

And you know I heard a beautiful classical piece when that happened to me the last time, I liked it so much I was hoping the customer service person wouldn't come on the phone until the piece was over.

 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 12:17 PM   
 By:   Dana Wilcox   (Member)

My point as well is why DANA do you look down at another form of creativity which can serve a purpose as well.

Not looking down on anything, just making the distinction that seems a little blurry in your mind.

 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 2:31 PM   
 By:   The Projectionist   (Member)

And you know I heard a beautiful classical piece when that happened to me the last time, I liked it so much I was hoping the customer service person wouldn't come on the phone until the piece was over.

I always like when I get the piano versions of either Schindler's List or Exodus themes.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 2, 2014 - 3:29 PM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

Another type of format I miss is what they call the adult pop station. They don't even have this on the cable channels, let me make it clear what the format is. It's not soft rock [groups] it is not big band or torch singers per say. . It would be exclusively male singer or female singer doing pop ballads of all decades. so in a hour you would have Humperdinck , Tom Jones[ballad, Perry como, carpenters, ray Charles[ballad] Tony Bennett,[ballad] Andy Williams etc etc, I often wonder why this format is so unpopular today. a pure ballad station, no instrumentals, no groups , nothing fast[like soft rock, or soft blues can be ] Rod McKeon, Earl grant, Nat king cole.etc etc etc.I guess the closest word to describe it would be pop ballad crooners. There are so many real pretty songs that were popular or not popular that were good lost in the giant world of music. Just one example , pop in my head SOMEONE IS WAITING-80- PERRY COMO.

 
 Posted:   Mar 3, 2014 - 5:31 AM   
 By:   Thomas   (Member)

I always remember what Barry Manilow said, that all he can hope for is that his music is ruined in elevators for years to come!!

 
 Posted:   Mar 3, 2014 - 6:58 AM   
 By:   Jim Phelps   (Member)

I always remember what Barry Manilow said, that all he can hope for is that his music is ruined in elevators for years to come!!

Artistic pretense aside, I'm sure none of those songwriters refuse the royalty checks that Muzak sends them. Manilow is absolutely correct.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 3, 2014 - 11:35 AM   
 By:   Disco Stu   (Member)




I LOVE muzak, elevator musik or whatever you call it. I love it as in really liking it and not in a "camp", "ironic" or "so bad it's good" kind of rubbish nonsense.
Over the years I have come to reappraise that polyester early 70s age and look and for some reason feel quite at home in it, and since muzak is supposed to be the epitomy of artificial and all that is wrong with humanity like the before mentioned 70s things, I like it.
The main reason I am so pleased with the Lee Holdridge Elton John covers is that it sounds very much like early seventies muzak. The clip above is what I could use much more of and I wish there were that kind of muzak CDs available.
One of the most maligned songs in the category muzak is the Mantovani track:
.

What else I like about muzak is that it is poison to the hip, the rapcrap, the metallers and grungers and a boat load of others that I hate to the core.

.

I have been on quite a lot of elevators and I have seen more Spider-men than that I have ever heard the "dreaded" elevator music.
Ah elevator music; one of the many clich├ęs in the lazy scene painters paint box.

D.S.


 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2014 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.