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Polytonality in Film Scoring Music | Mixing Lydian and Minor Modes | Tim Huling

Polytonality in Film Scoring Music | Mixing Lydian and Minor Modes | Tim Huling

Usually when film composers rate polytonal music, they do it in a way where the two or more keys are clearly separate from one another and the audience can hear, “Wow. Okay. Part of this music is in one key and the other part is in another key.” The clarity of this means that the surreal or bizarre or strange effect is made clear. So here’s an example from a score that I wrote basically a nightmare scene. So what I wrote was at the beginning we have this C-minor material [MUSIC] and on top of that I wrote this C Lydian material. [MUSIC] Which I then transposed up to E. [MUSIC] So then, the combination of these two creates a strange surreal effect for the nightmare. [MUSIC] So by keeping the respective keys clearly separate from one another, the polytonal effect is made obvious. This is usually important because the effect is used to create something strange and bizarre, but also familiar. For example, you might be scrolling a seen with a ghost. The ghost in of it itself might look like a person that is normal, but the context makes that otherwise normal looking person clearly strange and bizarre. So the combination of elements that themselves are not bizarre, but juxtaposed in a bizarre way creates the desired effect. [MUSIC]

Reader Comments

  1. Very informative and interesting explanations coupled with captivating examples that sound lovely on piano. I like the directness in commentary and clear reasons why to use various scales and keys. As a composer of original music themes for book trailers about comics that are performed on the guitar, I love learning such ideas and methods from composers/musicians and Tim does such a great job at informing why to create such unique music for a story and specific events with characters. Truly interesting composing and theory!

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