When I worked for Ron Jones on Family Guy (1999-2001), we used “provocations” (Ron got the term from lateral-thinking specialist Edward De Bono) to come up with fresh, wild solutions to problems—whether the problems were about the show’s score, or about something as mundane as a pizza party. It was just something we did.
The idea is to define a problem or a topic for consideration, then to posit something else—something that’s clearly unrelated, or just plain wrong—in order to break us out of our pattern of routine thinking. Using that new and strange interloper, in other words, as a way to provoke ideas that we never would have come upon otherwise.
It’s a creativity tool, and I’ve found it to be powerful and simple. I use it all the time in my own career. So what I’m going to do here at SCOREcast is this: each week I’ll post one of these provocations, and then we’ll all mull it over in the comments.
This week’s inaugural provocation: Films should not have scores.
This one’s just plain crazy, and that’s why I like it as an opener. Film music has been around nearly as long as the art form has existed, and we continue to rely on and refine it as a narrative tool. It’s an art form, and calling for its abolishment is insane—besides all of which, if films didn’t have scores, this fine website you’re reading right now wouldn’t have much of a reason for being.
On the other hand: thinking of this statement as a provocation leads us to consider just what it is that a film score is trying to accomplish, the role of silence in film music (which leads to thinking we might not otherwise do about our own compositional process and the use of space in that process), and all kinds of other possibilities… which I hope you’ll join us in discussing in the comments.
Look for one of these Weekend Provocations each Friday.