Sound in The Wizard of Oz-week 3 Blog

Dialogue is the talking between characters in a film. This is used to expand or elaborate upon what is visible on the screen, further develop the plot, to enhance characterizations, or to immediately establish important information the audience needs to know to understand the action; names, locations, dates, motivations, or backstory. The use of dialogue influences personal communication, the phrases in films have become part of everyday topic, what one can relate to, and symbolic to individual’s lives. For example, many people at some point have used the phrase, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” (Goodykoontz, 2014, The Wizard of Oz, 1939).

Sound effects are used in almost every film to enhance the action, to grab and keep the viewers attention.

Music is as crucial to a film’s creation like that of lighting and cameras. Music that plays in the background of a scene while action takes place is a film’s music score. A score is often played by a full symphonic orchestra, or: on a synthesizer, by a solo instrumentalist, or by a small group of instrumentalists. Background music can be recognized by the style, or is random with an anonymous feel. Not all music is writing just for a particular film or written numbers that get overlooked. Many of these numbers have become iconic, classics. For example, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” is a widely popular, recognizable, and understood class song (Goodykoontz, 2014, The Wizard of Oz, 1939).

These three elements make up the categories in sound within a film. Sound is an important key to the success of, and is commonly taken for granted and overlooked by viewers in a film. The Wizard of Oz, a 1939 widely popular and outstanding film of its time, effectively uses sound, in aid of the theme, mood, genre it classifies with, and the overall creation of the film. Sound has a profound impact in establishing the theme in this film, unnatural. In the “tornado scene”, the use of music sound effects and minimal dialogue, impact the unnatural feel.

The background music appears to be played by a symphonic orchestra and is pretty subtle up until the major scene of the tornado. “Scoring a film sound is almost like refereeing a basketball game-if done right, no one notices.” (David Bondelevitch-Goodykoontz, 2014). When the tornado closes in on Dorothy, the inside of her home is her only means of safety, and the background music is used to do the speaking, since there is very minimal dialogue. Upon the window coming out of the wall and hitting Dorothy in the head-causing unconsciousness (a dreaming state), the background music turns into dramatic, silly, of dream-like, unnatural qualities. The music aids in the “still” sense of Dorothy inside the tornado, even though she is spinning around, and chaos all around her. Unusual chords, rhythms, tempos, volumes, and instrumentation, create the unnatural theme of the scene. Another major component of background music that has affected the overall experience, and popular understanding, is the little ditty that is played when the old lady on the bike appears, and transforms into a cackling witch, it is widely hummed, and used in funny situations among some. I know I have referenced it many times throughout my life.

Sound effects throughout this scene appear fairly typical, and natural, everyday sounds. The tornado’s sound effects are extremely intense and dramatic, loud, and sounds that associate with a tornado. These effects are so in your face, a viewer cannot help but keep glued to the scene, watching and listening to everything going on. It is very unnatural for someone to be able to endure, and be that close to a tornado, in a storm of that sort. Dorothy running around frantically, and everything flying around her, with the sound effects, is truly out of this world. What is cool too, is some of the sound effects are produced by some of the instruments/instrumentalists, giving the sound effects an unexpected, dream-like quality.

Dialogue in this scene is very minimal, and to the point.

If the music in the scene would have been removed, the overall fantasy, unnatural, intriguing quality would not exist. The sound effects, if removed, would have made the scene very dull, and lose a viewer’s attention. If the dialogue would have been removed, and all other categories kept, it still would have been an intense, fantasy themed, scene.

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C., P. (2014). Film:From watching to seeing (2nd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.


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