Film music shapes our emotions

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HAVE you ever wondered what movies would be like without sound? In fact, next time you watch anything on TV press “mute” and see if you feel any different about whatever you are watching.

The perfect movie for this experiment would be the final scenes of Titanic, when there are a lot of violins playing. You will realise that you don’t feel as sorry for the drowning people when your TV is muted. There is something about the music that takes your emotions in the direction that the story is going.

“A lot of folks don’t appreciate the impact that music has in film and TV productions,” said Alan Lazar, the founder of Lalela Music, a South African company that provides musical solutions for TV and films across the globe.

“The process of interpreting music in any given production is not an intellectual one, but it is something far deeper. The great thing about it is that music is a universal language and you can play to it to anybody in the world and they will understand the emotion that goes with it.

“In fact, films from all over the world may have different languages, but the music will be more or less the same. I think this explains why our stuff has made it internationally so quickly.

“We have people speaking Korean or Hungarian all using our music because language is not important, as music is an emotional language,” said Lazar.

He founded Lalela Music five years ago after being a band member of Mango Groove for several years.

“I kind of stumbled on the idea of making music for film and TV. I was in Mango Groove in the early years of my life, but I loved movies and toyed around with the idea of making them. I managed to get into USC Film School in Los Angeles on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1994.

“As much as I loved music, I discovered that I loved writing music for them even more. It was a blessing that I went to film school because I met a lot of people whom I still work with today and I started scoring their student films and when they graduated we still worked together,” he said.

“I directed a feature once, in 2001, and I found it stressful. Making a movie is like a two-year process and when you’re finished it’s like jumping off a cliff. What I really love about music is that you work on a lot of projects and with a lot of people so there is always something new happening,” he added.

Now based in Los Angeles and doing work on big productions, Lazar confessed that his journey was not always rosy.

“The thing with going to LA is that it produced a lot of mixed emotions. There was a sense to some degree of being a very small fish in a big pond and it’s scary because the competition is extremely intense, but I think what I have done is realise that it forces you to work harder and really give your best.

“I definitely had some thoughtful times there. You also realise that you want to be in touch with your South African-ness. There are so many people competing in LA, but what makes you special is being from outside.

“So I was not trying to be any American composer or any of that, instead I was bringing my home flavour and there was and is a market for that,” explained Lazar.

So apart from e.tv, eNews and the Oscar-winning film Gravity (pictured), what else has Lalela Music done in the entertainment industry?

“We worked on Sex in the City, the TV show. It had great ratings and it was great working on that project. I also worked on Jerusalema where I managed to fuse the South African in me and the Californian aspects that I have experienced so far,” he explained.

Other clients for Lalela music include Disney, Warner Bros, BBC and PlayStation.


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