Structure is a crucial element of beauty, and film is no different. As I wrote in the previous post, a music cue can do more than just highlight action or represent the subtext; it can also play a large role in clarifying or even creating structure.
To that end, here are some questions to ask during the spotting session (or whenever you think of it!)
- What is the inciting event that motivates the action that follows.
- Where does the action proper start? (Note: The music could start on the inciting event, creating a sense of musical introduction, and the main melodic material arrive when the action truly starts. This creates a cohesive sense of structure.)
- Where does the scene end?
- What event signals the end of the scene or sequence?
- Are there multiple scenes that form a whole.
- Should the music play through the cuts and scenes?
- What cuts are structural.
Example: Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade: the boat race in Venice.
After facing rats and burning waters in the catacombs under the library, Doctor Jones and Elsa come out from a man-hole, surprising tourists. Indiana says “Ah, Venice.”
When the two come out, the music from the previous sequence ended, leaving room for this comedic moment. This musical break also serves as a structural point, separating the previous, more serious sequence from the following lighter action sequence; the boat chase in Venice.
Kazim and the Brothers come running out of the church and the music begins. This is the start of this scene, the inciting event that forces Indy and Elsa to start running.
The music is played as an introduction as they all race towards the boats. The melody itself only starts once everyone is in their boats, on the cut to Indy, Elsa and one of the Brothers hanging on to the back of the boat. This is the start of the action!
To find out how the ending music is structured, go watch Indian Jones and the Last Crusade and find out for yourself!