Music – the missing sounds of wildlife
One of the most satisfying and pleasing results of making my own wildlife films has been the feedback I get about the soundtrack.
Admittedly, one or two have said they took a few minutes to get used to the fact that there is no orchestra playing along, making sure they feel happy when they are meant to and that they feel sad in the right places, but then they found themselves immersed much more deeply than they normally would be when watching a wildlife documentary.
[Video clip from Through the Garden Gate]
Music is now in almost everything we consume in the media, rather like sugar and salt is added to everything we eat. It’s become a commercial convention that often does more harm than good.
“People are not wondering where they can buy the CD of the music, but saying they love that there is no music at all.”
In nature documentaries generally, music is without doubt the most frequent complaint I hear from people, people who otherwise are loyal fans of the genre. Intrusive, overpowering, over dramatic are some of the words they often use. Big budget wildlife documentaries have long tried to emulate and associate themselves with feature films but sadly they seem to ignore the fact some of the very best feature films (eg. No Country for Old Men) use no music at all.
Here is a wonderful clip that demonstrates just how powerful the use of natural sound can be:
It’s odd that the problem is seldom referred to or discussed anywhere, so to encourage a bit more debate here is the beginnings of a collection of links to articles, podcasts and videos on the subject.
What do you think ? Please email me if you know of any other articles on the subject. I would love to know.
Does orchestral music capture the sound of wildlife? Pascal Wyse in The Guardian
Round Robin RSPB Film Unit film from 1979