Certain kinds of music prompt us to imagine actions in connection with those sounds. Disney movies and cartoons have some of the simplest examples of “action music.” Imagine what kind of music would go with someone sitting down, windows opening, someone frowning, or a host of other actions. There is just some music that calls for action to go with it. These action music moments are the information we need to gather next as we find fuel for the imagination.
Types of Music
The kind of music that sounds like a sound effect or musical description of action we will call “action music.” There are other kinds of music too. Mood music is music that sets a general mood but nothing that refers to anything specific. There is the leitmotif that suggests a type of person, object, place, or theme. There are other types of music you could identify beyond this, but for the sake of this topic, we want to focus on action music.
What am I supposed to circle?
You are supposed to circle what you think is action music. Look or listen for unique musical moments. Pay attention when there is music that pops out of the texture. Is there music that is particularly interesting or that makes you think of a specific action? If you were to watch a movie, would you expect to see a specific action with this music? If so, that is the music you will want to circle. Again, we are just gathering information at this point. We will talk about what to do with this circle later. For now, it is enough to identify it and let your imagination start to work on what action might go with that music.
Here is an example of what it might look like
- Overthinking it. If all of a sudden you find that everything or nothing on the page is action music, you are probably overthinking.
- Stress about whether or not you are right or wrong. This isn’t an exact science. There is room for artistic decision-making here. What one person hears as action music might not be heard that way by someone else. One person might hear particular action music and imagine that it belongs to someone sitting down when someone else imagines it is a bird flying. This difference in interpretation is what will ultimately lead to your performance being unique and valuable.
- They don’t actually write in the circle. This usually means it gets ignored later and a great opportunity for excellent action gets left behind.
- Settle for the most obvious easy answer. Be curious! Explore what the music could be called for and don’t be so worried about what the music should be calling for.
- Impose your own scheming on the music. Trust the composer. Great composers, especially those writing for cinema or the stage, think in terms of action. At this point, we are searching for clues to what the composer thought. We are not trying to force the music into what we think it should be or want it to be. Working against or ignoring the music is usually a very bad idea.
Links to other articles in Acting 101 for Singers Day 1
Topic 10: Where does imagination come from?