I admit, I’m a little obsessive when it comes to film music.
Are you the type of person that, after a films conclusion, ‘stays with it’ and listened to the entire end credit (EC) music? Most people, once the credits come, leave the theater or turn off the tv and move on. But what actually goes into the making of the EC music? Can it be/is it done with intent and style? What can/does the composer do while the names go up?
Several methods of filling the EC space come to mind:
1) Stick in existing score from the film. Use highlights of the music that come from key plot points. Many films do this effectively enough, though it often doesn’t showcase the composers’ intent for the music (which may or may not be a bad thing) as it could be left to a video editor to splice the music into the credits just to fill a certain period of time. It would likely save some valuable hours of studio time and seems to be the most common method.
2) Use even more original music. The EC gives the composer the opportunity to score music free from the bonds of the film and to pay more attention to form and flow of thought. Timed exactly right with the credits length, it sends the final logos off with style. One thing several popular film composers do is arrange concert versions of the themes they write to give it a more enjoyable listen on album. The concert adaptation would fit well in the EC as it wouldn’t be necessary to follow the film as closely. (This is perhaps best seen in the Star Wars films. SW: Episode I has one of the most interesting closers, with Episode II following closely behind.)
3) Make the credits pop… literally. Probably one of the most popular (and expensive) choices is for the marketing department to hire a well known singer or group usually apart from the composer, though not always, and have them record a song or two to play while the credits flow. This type of EC is good for cross marketing… but isn’t always good for the listenability of the score. (Hurray for the digital age where we can load only the songs we prefer onto our ipods!!)
So, lots of choices. None of them being exactly right or wrong. Honestly, it all depends on the film, it’s director’s and composer’s aesthetic. A comic book action film would likely do well with a score only approach, though not always is this the case anymore. A chick-flick would do better with, say, several sickening sweet, flavor-of-the-day songs.
Oh-boy! Sugar rush!