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  • Sarath Sivan

Idea #106 - The Needle Drop

Today we learned about the Needle Drop, a term used in film when a good old time song is synchronised strategically in a scene. Originating in the music industry to recognise when an album was transferred from a vinyl record to digital audio, it has now come to be used more casually in cinematic terms.

A needle drop, owing to the stark contrast between the comparatively neo-genre films and the vintage songs, often leaves an impression in the audience that stays vivid in their minds long after watching the film.

While orchestrating a needle shot, it is critical to keep in mind -

1. The tone of the film.

You need to decide how you want the audience to feel, and should your music align with the scene or contradict it strongly. Upon this foundation, the scene can be funny, sinister, satirical, even.

2. How the song connects to the characters.

There is a term in opera called “leitmotif”. It refers to recurring musical themes that can be associated with characters, places, and situations.

3. Whether or not the song provides catharsis.

You determine if (and to what degree) does the track hit the correct emotional pitch when the tension is at its peak.

From Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song in Thor: Ragnarok to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now in Shaun of the Dead, needle drops make us feel all kinds of conflicting as well as celebratory emotions at the same time!

Written and Curated by Arya Kastwar


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