Music or Movie….which is Most Influential?

This question has come up occasionally, and my personal answer to the question might be surprising.   What is more surprising though is my view of the source of creative art.

Honestly, I am in awe of some of the creative stuff that emerges from our collective societies.  The awe comes from my own ineptitude of creative ability.  Analytic….good…..creative….fuggetabowditt.

Back to music vs movies.  One would think that the visual, verbal and musical power of a movie would be more powerful than music alone.  Wrong….at least in my own experience.  I have to admit that for some reason, I have never been moved to any significant emotion over a movie, but on many occasions, music has reached to the depths of my soul.  I’m not sure why, perhaps the focus, perhaps music has an cranial effect, perhaps lyrics get the brain more active than dialogue.

An outcropping of this consideration came from listening to Marvin Gaye’s  music recently.  Marvin’s 3-octave vocal range was always the thing that made me pay attention to his music in the ’70’s.  He played “Motown” music which had a really upbeat sense to it.  I figured he was a Detroit product but it turn out it was from Washington DC.   Oh well, my pro-Detroit bias survived!  (My mother was born and raised near downtown Detroit).  I remember the “Motown Sound” well and always associated it with Marvin Gaye.

Marvin Gaye was raised by a Washington, DC pastor.  He was beaten in his childhood and eventually shot and killed by his father in California.  His music emerged from that upbringing and no wonder it is powerful. It is existential, something a movie could never emote.

Marvin Gaye is by far not the only one to project his “power” through music, even if unintended.  A local musician told me that music is “spiritual’ to young people in their teens up to their early 20’s.

One artist to examine on this subject is Jimmy Morrison of The Doors.  Morrison was clearly a sufferer of depression.  Yet his poetry and music were deeply soulful and a roadmap to the tortuous existence of Jimmy himself. A scientific article I read recently indicated that sufferers of depression and other mental “illnesses” were actually indicators of our species forging ahead to a higher level.  I don’t know about that but I’m pretty sure that the artists of our society have always been considered outliers, if not outright mentally ill.  May we welcome them all!


2 thoughts on “Music or Movie….which is Most Influential?

  1. Although music from Chopin and Mahler to the music/lyrics of Lennon/McCartney, Sam & Dave, John Sebastian, Jackson Browne, Bruce Cockburn, and Marvin Gaye are so equal to moving us, I’d give the bid to music in movies: what would the Godfather, Lord of the Rings and Matrix trilogies be without their soundtracks. Further, how would The Gladiator, Braveheart, Rob Roy and many other films have their heartfelt impact without the music? In fact, some computer games’ soundtracks are positively beautiful and lend considerable impact to gameplay, although hardly at a deeper heart level.

    But good question, Bruce.

    As for psychological challenges, addictions and brilliance, there is a fairly strong correlation. After all, anyone who reveals his or her gifts in music, photography, writing, painting, engineering or inventing has to be gifted at the least, and likely an ‘outlier’ more often than not.

    A further issue…

    How much do our gifts really matter? After all, this matter that forms us is but to die, and what about afterwards?

    • Great response Bruce.

      Frankly I don’t have the answers to you to questions you pose. One thing I am fairly convinced of is that the tortuous soul is the most likely to produce the most thought provoking works. Sure, we all want the pat answers of religion or spirituality but the truth is not so pat. It is found deep within our souls.

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