Can you think of films where the distinction between score and sound design is creatively or accidentally undermined?
In a lot of films the distinction is really clear: score is orchestral music, electronic atmospheres or rock songs, and it comments on emotion or drama or something. Sound design is usually recordings of non-musical things, and acts to anchor the image and make everything convincing. (I'm simplifying a lot, but you know what I mean.) Sometimes in a film, however, it's much harder to draw a clear distinction between score and sound design, and I always find it interesting when I come across this kind of blurring.
Here's a couple of different examples of what I mean:
- In the electronic score for Forbidden Planet, the sounds are often ambiguous enough to blur the distinction between score and sound design. Check out this clip of a spaceship landing: is the sound that accompanies it a sound effect — is it meant to represent the sound of the spaceship — or is it 'spaceship landing music'? In Star Wars, for example, the distinction between the sound of a spaceship landing and the music which might accompany it is totally clear; here it's a much stranger and more ambiguous thing, which I quite like.
- Can't find a clip online, but in the Gus Van Sant film Elephant, there's a scene where a female character walks through the gym. The score at that point is (Canadian soundscape composer) Hildegard Westerkamp's Beneath The Forest Floor, a piece built from field recordings of a forest. So the character is walking through the gym and we hear music made from forest birds. Again, there's no clear way to distinguish score or sound design here, it's just an example of creative organised sound (which is what score and sound design both are fundamentally anyway).
- I guess mickeymousing is also an example of this, because it's using score to do what foley can do: a character falls over and a cymbal crashes, for example. It gets a bad name but I kind of like it because it builds an audiovisual language instead of treating sound and image as distinct.
Anyway: I'm sure there's a whole bunch of other ways it can be done (deliberately or accidentally), can you think of any?