What We Can Learn from Cinema

Next time you watch a movie see what you can learn from it as a songwriter.

Here are some examples:

As songwriters we need to remind ourselves that we can use the cinematic devise of ‘dropping in’ on either an internal conversation, a discussion, a situation, or whatever, in a life or lives, either our own or someone else’s.

Who hasn’t wished he wasn’t a fly on the wall? It offers a kind of voyeur appeal. It also makes the listener quickly attempt to determine what’s going on. Cinema often uses this device. The next time you’re watching a movie, study how the film opens, how the director establishes the locale, how he introduces the characters, how he informs you of the issues and problems that will propel the story forward. You can use those techniques in songwriting to have songs with more believability and to make them more coherent.

You can also use the lessons learned in cinema in regards to creating first verses and opening lines. Think about how movies often start with a very general shots, often from a helicopter. This establishes the location for the story. From the beginning, we know if the characters are in the city, a town, in the wilderness, wherever. Well, the same holds true for song.

What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “What We Can Learn from Cinema

  1. I have always thought that there was a song somewhere in the first twenty minutes of Perfect Storm (George Clooney et al). Forget the rest of the special effects, the adventure and the disaster. The first twenty minutes is a masterful study in characters and human interaction in the small town setting where there is no escape.

    The story is set up in the first 20 minutes by giving a brief history of the fishing industry over hundreds of years – generation after generation of hardworking people trapped in a way of life in a small town whose fate is to lose a certain number of fishermen every year. And yet they continue to do it because it is in their blood.

    The theme of why people continue to engage in risky behavior (legal or not) when they know it will result in disaster could be quite an interesting theme for a song.

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