That Old Familiar Tune

Back in November, I wrote an editorial as a response to’s article about the death of the movie theme song.  TAM readers easily noted that movie music means a lot to me.

So why does movie music deserve a second editorial?

Well, this one deals with the reuse of music within movies and TV.

Don’t get me wrong — I am aware of music having a finite number of ways of being arranged.  It is also unavoidable in movie series such as Star Wars.

So, I am sitting there one night, watching Moonlight on my DVR.  For those that do not know what that is, Moonlight was a show on CBS last season that dealt with a vampire detective that helped people (Hmm sounds like a show called Forever Knight or even more recently, Angel).  As the two lovebirds are enjoying a romantic moment, a song starts playing and it took me a few minutes to realize that it was from the Buffy TV soundtrack (not the musical) and was used in a similar situation.

Of course I got upset at this and started thinking about all of the times it has happened in movies.

At this point, I cue the rolling eyes of Spaldy since she knows what I am going to discuss next.

In movies, there is one example that rises above all others: John Williams.

I love his music and own several of his soundtracks.  One of those CDs is the Hook soundtrack.  Great music that really works with the music.  Which brings me to Harry Potter.  As much as I do enjoy the music, I can’t help but be irritated each time I hear the main theme, which is very similar to Hook.  I guess he figured that since Hook did not do well at the box office or in the music business, that no one would notice him ripping off major portions of it.

So why discuss this stuff?

Because, as an audience, we should care.  As much as we get upset at recycled movie plots, we should be equally upset at obvious recycling of music.  The music helps tie the story together and, at times, helps flesh out the emotions the director and writer wanted us to feel.

Think about that the next time you hum a tune from your favorite movie…

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