Imagine Jaws, Indiana Jones, or Star Wars without music. Those movies would easily have been less enjoyable were it not for the music. John Williams is the composer, to the previously mentioned films, and he makes the music a supporting actor. Music and movies go together like peanut butter and jelly, but why is that?

We all know that music has been around for a while. Anthony Kiedis of The Red Hot Chili Peppers echos this when he sang, “Music the great communicator, use two sticks to make it in the nature.” People have been banging on trees, stomping feet, and humming tunes because of this innate notion of rhythm. When we think back to some of the earliest musicians, King David is one that comes to mind. Prior to his kingship, King Saul would request for David’s soothing melodies. Although Saul was tormented and miserable, there was something about a melody that put his spirit at ease. Something inside Saul resonated when it heard the gentle strumming of a harp.

Thinking back to 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the fist full-length animated cartoon (and according to AFI the #34 movie of all time), even the dwarfs knew there was something to music. Just whistle while you work…It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace…They knew a tune would pass the time and distract from the curse that has effected our work.

Even Steve Job’s revelatory iPod, has taught us something about this rhythm in life. It is all-to-common to see people on the streets, ear buds in, strutting down the sidewalk. There is a soundtrack to life and you find that music often syncs up to the motion that’s around us.

We know that God is a God of order and he has established a rhythm to life. Thinking back to creation, there is a constant pattern, or rhythm, to God’s creating the earth. At the creating of the seven days we hear the phrase; and it was morning and it was evening…and it was morning and it was evening…at the conclusion of each day. Panning out to the work week, we have another pattern repeated; six days work, one rest…six days work, one rest. There is a rhythm to the created order, because God does not ‘shoot from the hip’ so-to-speak.

It’s interesting to think that God really doesn’t think or ponder each and every day, all things are known to him and he already has the end figured out. Many of us make plans and aim for goals, however, we then must figure out how to accomplish those goals and some of those goals my remain a dream. This is not so with God. God knew the end before the beginning and it will all fit into his ordered redemptive plan.

Getting back to film, music is essential to a motion picture. I would argue that a film’s success is highly dependent on the musical score. As mentioned before, the musical score to Star Wars easily increased the audiences likability of the film. George Lucas even commented about John Williams’ score as the only aspect of the film that exceeded his expectations. He was constantly changing things and disappointed at various aspects of the film, but the music was perfect. Just picture the words Star Wars bursting on the screen with the musical score. Now picture those same words in silence…not the same.

Music increases the intensity, often adds to the humor, makes something look cooler, and has the ability to make us jump out of our seats, when employed at the proper moment. Music simply assists in capturing the rhythm or tone of life and reveals the magnificent handiwork of the greatest Artist of all time.

This post led me to compose a top 10 list – just call me David Letterman – of some of my favorite musical scores. Some of these films had strong scores and some of them just had familiar tunes, which is what assisted me in composing this. The most obvious difficulties of composing a top 10 list, is the plethora of choices you leave out. Therefore, let us hear from you and compose your own top 10 list. I would actually encourage you to compose your own prior to reading the below, but whatever. Please note that I am only listing musical scores and not musicals.

Top 10 Musical Scores (John Perritt):

  1. Jaws
  2. Star Wars: Main Title (Star Wars: Episode IV)
  3. Indiana Jones (Raiders March)
  4. Chariots of Fire
  5. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  6. James Bond 007
  7. Dueling Banjos (from Deliverance)
  8. The Entertainer (from The Sting)
  9. The Imperial March (Star Wars: Episode V)
  10. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

John Kwasny’s Top 10:

1. The Pink Panther
2. Jaws
3. Star Wars
4. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
5. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
6. The Sting
7. Breaking Away
8. Chariots of Fire
9. Raiders of the Lost Ark
10. The Lion King

Top 10 Music Soundtracks – Emilio

  1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  2. True Grit
  3. Pan’s Labyrinth
  4. Pulp Fiction
  5. The Thin Red Line
  6. Forrest Gump
  7. Up
  8. Gladiator
  9. Inception
  10. Black Swan

Top 10 15 Music Soundtracks – Josh

So many good scores (some just themes)…Here are some of my favorites in no particular order…okay, maybe Lord of the Rings is at the top for a reason…

  1. Lord of the Rings – Howard Shore
  2. Batman (1989 version) – Danny Elfman
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl – Klaus Badelt
  4. The Godfather – Nino Rota
  5. Edward Scissorhands – Danny Elfman
  6. Inception  -Hans Zimmer
  7. Little Miss Sunshine – Mychael Danna and Devotchka
  8. Requiem for a Dream  -Clint Mansell
  9. Gladiator – Hans Zimmer
  10. Back to the Future – John Williams (check out this great salute to JW)
  11. Braveheart – James Horner
  12. Forrest Gump – Alan Silvestri
  13. Shawshank Redemption  -Thomas Newman
  14. The Village – James Newton Howard
  15. Rudy – Jerry Goldsmith
  1. Paul Durfield says:

    The Last of the Mohicans, Gettysbug, and The Mission have always been favorites of mine.

  2. Glen Ulrich says:

    I think the Village has chilling, yet beautiful music with that violin. It turns the movie from thriller (making you jump at times) to love-story (tugging on your emotions).

    • jperritt says:

      Maybe my all-time favorite soundtrack. I used to study to it. I can already tell I’m going to have to do another Top 10 list that’s more recent.

  3. […] written before about how vital the musical score is to the film and I felt that Hans Zimmer did a great job on […]

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