Blue Robot

The Music of “Gravity”

Posted by Shamir Lee on 10/16 at 11:56 AM

When a film relies on silence, how can it have such an amazing score as Gravity? The film was released in the US on October 4th to critical acclaim. Part of the reason for the positive reception was the music. In order to properly depict life in space, while also promoting the dramatic elements and intense moments, silence had to be incorporated in a way that was still audible. Expressing this silence through music was one of the film’s greatest achievements. Director Alfonso Cuaron stated “We knew we needed to express silence. We didn’t want the score to be descriptive, but psychological and emotional. We composed a score which is expressive of surroundings. Here the music is moving around you all the time.” In charge of this incredible task was British composer Steven Price.

At first, Price was only supposed to be a music editor, but ended up being hired as a full-time composer. Realizing that most films set in space don’t give a realistic perspective of sound, he knew he wanted to take a more scientific approach, presenting space as sound-less while still incorporating music that expressed the emotions of fear, sadness, and loneliness. In order to do that, he completely left out “loud drums and crashing symbols.” Percussion was omitted to avoid the “cliché of action scoring,” says Price. However, loud, booming, ominous tones were still used throughout the film, just in a way that remained space-like. The main purpose of the music was to tell the audience what the characters were feeling without them actually having to verbalize it. Using “vibrations and those sorts of sounds and low frequency kind of rumbles you might hear within a space suit,” says Price, he was able to perfectly illustrate the mind of a person lost in space.

I left the theater impressed by the visuals and the acting, but completely blown away by the score. I believe it was one of the strongest traits. One of the more notable tracks from a more dramatic scene from the film, “Don’t Let Go,” is posted below.

{name} Author: Shamir Lee
Bio: Shamir Lee is a senior majoring in Advertising. She’s a writer for Penn State’s CRITIQUE, a student-run business magazine. Additionally, she has created ads and flyers for One Heart, an organization fighting against child sexual abuse. She’s interested in looking at cats, doing ballet, exercising, and ending animal cruelty. In her free time, she enjoys watching horror movies, some of her favorites being Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue and the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ("sorry, I just really like the cinematography"). Music is a big part of her life, as she plays piano, a little bit of guitar, and used to play saxophone. Some of her favorite musicians are Jason Becker, BUCK-TICK, Megadeth, Aivi Tran, Missing Persons, Nina Hagen, Prince, and Koji Kondo.

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