A series of black and white notes
By Lasya Shashimohan
21st January 2013 07:18 AM
Life is a series of motions set to some cryptic cosmic rhythm. Research has proven that music enhances memory and focus, releases endorphins or ‘feel good’ hormones that counteract anxiety and depression, alleviates pain, stabilises palpitations, reduces hypertension and helps one connect better with the world around us. Music, known to activate certain areas of the brain, has lead to colossal breakthroughs in mathematics, science et al. Music often transmutes itself into brilliant works of art, poetry and cinema. Music has been ingeniously used by many a film-maker to complement his/her vision and take it to transcendental levels.
Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, as the title suggests, is a shattering dirge of four dreams. Four characters who exist in a reality altered by psychotropic substances, find their worlds falling apart as they eventually move towards derangement, a morally depraved life, loss of love and a limb and a derogatory life in prison, towards the climax. Clint Mansell’s music captures the disturbance, delusion, beauty and pathos of the story with great efficacy.
Music plays a principal role in enhancing the impact of the narrative in Black Swan. Nina Sayers, a ballerina, is so obsessively devoted to her calling, that she doesn’t have a life beside it. When she lands the much-coveted lead role of the Swan Queen in the ballet ‘Swan Lake’, in which she is to depict two diametrically opposed roles, she puts herself through torturous moral pressure in order to attain perfection in her part of the Black Swan, the White Swan’s diabolical twin.
Gradually, her identification with the roles reaches its zenith and merges with her reality, so much so that in the climax she stabs herself in an altercation with her own dark alter ego — the Black Swan. Clint Mansell re-works Tchaikovsky’s original score and through music that is excellently apt, portrays the metamorphosis of the pure, virginal, gentle and graceful White Swan into its twin the Black Swan who is powerful, seductive, magnetic and evil.
Closer home, Anurag Kashyap’s Shaitan’s song Josh, conceived by an array of composers captures the perpetual adrenaline rush that five youngsters seem to experience as they go about their freaky, reckless escapades. Many have confessed to being hooked to the television series ‘Dexter’ (which incidentally happens to be a thriller cum dark comedy about a blood splatter pattern analyst in the Miami Police Department, who transforms into a mysterious vigilante serial killer by night) owing to the bewitching, multi-layered opening theme by composer Rolfe Kent.
It is generally concluded that a sequence of harmonious notes abets creativity and achievement; discordant ones wreak havoc. However, one begs to differ slightly here. A clashing key here and a dissonant note there, rather than ruining a symphony or life, might enhance its beauty. After all, the good can’t stand out sans evil and sacred would be obfuscated if not for the contrasting profane. As Richard M Nixon had once intelligently observed, “If you want to make beautiful music, you must play the black and white notes together”.
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