Music composition is a broad field that now plays an integral role in movie making. It currently serves various crucial purposes that are vital for the emotional side of a motion picture while enhancing its storytelling ability. Leading directors and producers always keep music in mind when making all the necessary plans for the shooting of a movie due to the benefits that accrue from having the right soundtrack (Cornelius and Natvig 179). Some of the advantages of having music in film include; creating plot relationships, portraying emotions, period references, the other perception of time and implying a sense of space. It is for this reason that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAC) gives an award annually to acknowledge the importance of music in the movie industry. The Academy Award for Best Original Song is an award bestowed to songwriters who compose the best official song that was written specifically for a particular film (Slide 135). The award was introduced during the 7th Academy Awards in 1934 and has been making yearly nominations of composers and songwriters who are then presented to the Academy membership. The only requirements are that the song be a substantive rendition, audible and intelligible in both melody and lyrics in addition to being used in the motion pictures body as the first cue or at the end credits. “Skyfall (by British recording artist Adelle) is an example of such music, featuring in the 2012 James Bond film as its theme music and scooping the 85th Academy Award. In this essay, I will survey the role of “Skyfall” in the film by analyzing its effect to the presentation.
Adele was a perfect choice to record a James Bond theme soundtrack due to her soulful and evocative feel that would work well for the franchise. Together with producer Paul Epworth, the British crooner wrote and mastered the song in Abbey Road Studios in the middle of London. It is also vital to acknowledge that J.A.C Redford conducted a 77-piece orchestra as accompaniment to produce a contemporary orchestral pop song which was also an original composition. The final product was a dramatic ballad that was dark, providing a sense of death while working to reinstate rebirth. The producer was quite particular at creating a ‘60s jazz feel that was centered on the minor ninth as a base for the harmonic code. It is in C minor and written in adagietto with the talented singer’s vocals spanning over one octave (from the lower G to a high C). The song’s lyrics also mirror the film’s narrative and have romanticism as their main focus. The song has a soulful and brassy tune that fits the oeuvre that is common with James Bond movies making it wholly satisfying. Its instrumentation improves its allure and elevates the rousing vocals to new heights. Adelle drew muse from Dame Shirley Bassey but went on to add her strong phrasing technique as a way of owning the composition. In the song, she seems to be downplaying her round voice using the song’s lyrics to make the message being communicated the primary focus. The song has the sweep and utter drama with the orchestra giving it a classical touch, making it timeless and setting it apart from all other theme songs. Setting the singers beautiful sultry voice against the backdrop of a minor chord progression made the film larger than life with the grandeur of its musical arrangement upstaging the tune.
The song begins with the line “this is the end” with the scene quickly shifting to James Bond holding his breath and proceeding to count to drop due to the shot he had suffered. Adelle sings that the sky fall is crumbling and that she has no other option. It perfectly fits with the situation that is presently occurring around James. He finds himself in a precarious situation where his family home is even at risk of being torn down by the same organization that he had served so diligently. It is also at this same location that his boss passes away, with the song heightening the mood in this particular scene. The music is first dramatic, but in this particular scene, it is transforming the mood to one dark one. James had been throughout the world, from Japan, Turkey, and London but had gone back to where it had all started and was now ready to battle to his death at his childhood him. It is also apparent that James had a rough childhood and for was unhappy growing up due to the death of his parents. Adelle seconds this fact by referring to this as the area “where the world collides” referring to the dark memories that James had a face at the very place where he suffered emotionally. For the most part, he appears “cold” with no one able to reach his heart or love. The brassy tune with its ponderous progression and meandering melody plays an important role in creating the much-needed intrigue that was bolstered by Adelle’s bravura arc. Moreover, the song has parallels with opera program music from the Romantic period due to its use of a symphony orchestra. Another similarity is the use of emotional dynamics that would dramatically go from soft (piano) to loud (fortissimo). Similar to program music, the “Skyfall” theme song also had a subject, plot, and theme.
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