Monday, January 31, 2011

Reflections on Sombre Music in News Telecasts

This is probably one of the imponderables of life - but having just had an update from a relation living in Queensland on her and her family's experiences during and since the floods I remembered something that really bugged me when the floods were at their height. No, it wasn't the way the television coverage recycled the same limited footage every few minutes - although come to think of it that was pretty annoying. Actually extremely annoying. A similar thing happened when Virgo was travelling overseas in 2005 and staying in a hostel located in the square where the bus was blown up in London. Unable to contact her, the last thing I wanted was same images of destruction endlessly repeated. All that did was make us worry all the more.

But that is a digression. What was infuriating me during the recent flooding was the way the television coverage - when not accompanied by a reporter desperately trying to extract a few words from people who were generally far too busy doing something useful to have the time to waste with the exception of the one woman who was interviewed at least three times - was the way they played sombre music as they shown the impact of the flooding. Yes, I do understand that you need something and if the filming lacked sound - although it would certainly surprise me if they couldn't have taped what was actually happening - given that television involves both sight and sound, something has to fill the gap. But this music was intrusive and distracting. I wasn't the only one who was annoyed by this. Queenslanders I was in contact with were equally irritated.

So a hint to whoever sorts out the background music: we shouldn't notice it. If you are watching a movie are you aware that there is music except when there is dialogue? No, I didn't think so. It's certainly there but it's subtle - and if they can do it surely whoever selects music for news broadcasts can do the same. Create and keep a library of appropriate music and they won't even have to think. Is that too hard?

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