The 52 Focus: Music

The importance of how a film sounds – through atmosphere, music, effects, and the marriage between these elements and the picture – is often underestimated by filmmakers and audiences alike.

Getting the ‘sound’ of a film right is ultimately as important as how it looks. The two senses don’t work without each working in harmony. And if the sound does succeed, then that success lies in the marriage of these elements. Images only really take on their full meaning when you can hear them as well – hence, the power of cinema.

In The Amber Light, with music and song being such an integral part of both the narrative and approach, the sound takes on even more prominence. There’s a bit of nostalgia, an eye looking back to songs and communities from centuries ago, but there’s very much a forward-looking gaze too. A look to the present, and maybe the future. So that’s reflected not just in the mix of songs we selected, but also in the modern score by Christoph Bauschinger, and the blend created between the two. This is then further built on by the work of Owen Pratt, who took ‘found sounds’ on location, providing samples for Christoph to blend into the score and for Owen himself to build into the architecture of the final audio mix.

To formulate our approach, we listened to a lot of music. The relationship between the past and the present is reflected in the mix of traditional and contemporary songs, of electronic and acoustic, musicians playing today and musicians from the past. Here’s a playlist to a small selection of the music – hope you enjoy listening!

We had a terrific time working with the musical contributors to The Amber Light, especially the folk ‘supergroup’ The Furrow Collective whose contemporary arrangements of centuries-old folk songs are enchanting (their three albums are full of wonderful playing and singing). We were therefore delighted when they asked us to produce a music video for their single False True Love; shot over the course of the day in the utterly charming folk club The Bowerhouse in Kent, we’re very pleased with how the video turned out, and hope you enjoy watching and listening as much as we enjoyed making it.

If you’re interested in investigating further the inter-relation between sound and picture in film, here’s a selection of iconic scores and soundtracks that we suggest digging into. Take a listen: how do they reflect and enhance the style, narrative and themes of the films?

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – dir. Sergio Leone – Ennio Morricone
Aguirre, Wrath of God – dir. Werner Herzog – Popol Vuh
Sorcerer – dir. William Friedkin – Tangerine Dream
Blade Runner – dir. Ridley Scott – Vangelis
Reservoir Dogs – dir. Quentin Tarantino – Various Artists
Under the Skin – dir. Johnathan Glaser – Mica Levi

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