BySam Cooper, writer at
Spastic writer and a lover of all things with the word "espresso" in the title.
Sam Cooper

People say you can't truly experience a film until you see it in the theater. A thundering sound system, immersive visuals, a moving score, and a story linking together on a big screen create a very special kind of art. Each element is vital — independent from each other, they don't paint the same encompassing picture. However, perhaps the parts of a film are still useful when they're detached.

Imagine this for a second: We enjoy looking at screenshots of movies. We're still moved by stories when we hear them summarized by others. Most importantly, we break the replay button listening to our favorite scores.

Alright, everyone. Imagination time has ended. Stop adding brushstrokes to that all-encompassing picture, throw away your paints, and put a cover on that canvas, because here are three ways to use soundtracks outside of their movies.

3. Soundtracks Fuel Other Stories

First, forget the writing cliches. Writers don't spend all their time locked in a dungeon with nothing but a computer, an illegal amount of espresso, and little thought bubbles above their heads saying, "Hmmmm." Writers have to live. With no immediate way to voice their stories outside of paragraphs and periods, many writers listen to music. Three guesses as to what kind of music works best.

If you are a writer, don't be like Jack Torrance. Please.
If you are a writer, don't be like Jack Torrance. Please.

Film scores have the dynamic range, the unique qualities, and the strength needed to help someone imagine the stories they're weaving. It's not stealing. It's a way to inspire yourself. Even detached from their films, a soundtrack is the perfect way to light a torch in the writing caves and make a new piece of art into something special.

2. Run For Your Life

Most people listen to music while they run. Maybe your playlist consists of cliche songs like "Eye of the Tiger." Maybe it's full of false hope, like Green Day's "Give Me Novacaine." Or maybe you're the person who sprints for miles with the mellowest music in your headphones. Playlists are diverse creatures, but there is a theme linking the phones of most runners: instrumental music.

Instead of using a threat on your life as motivation, use music.
Instead of using a threat on your life as motivation, use music.

Soundtracks vibrate with energy. The bass swings low to give your muscles more strength. The dancing high spectrum keeps you focused. With vocals, it's easy to distract yourself from the pain, but with the seamless colors of film music, it's easy to exist in the run. Ripping the music out of a film doesn't ruin the movie — it's just a way of taking the energy to other places.

Exercise and movies. Who would have guessed they go together?

1. Opus

Movies are made by professionals. They're composed of the blood, souls, and sweat of people who spend hours under hot lights, days in dark rooms, and months dreaming of the worlds they'll bring to life. So for young students who want to learn the film trade (and the music trade, and the songwriting trade, and all the artistic trades), why not start them as early as possible?

Poor Mr. Holland.
Poor Mr. Holland.

School orchestras adopt the best themes from popular films and give them voice through squeaky violins, choked clarinets, and off-time timpani beats. Why use movie music? It's familiar, it's fun, and for kids who are just starting to learn how to make their instruments sound legitimately musical, it's affirming. Playing John Williams's Star Wars theme on your bassoon doesn't give you the complete Star Wars experience, but it sure as Hell makes you feel like you belong to something bigger.

Remixed, Remastered, Ready To Go

A film is a mind-boggling piece of art. Nothing can replace sitting in a theater and taking in the lights, the sounds, and the emotions. By themselves, those things don't quite feel the same, but that doesn't mean they're useless when they break free. Soundtracks inspire writers to reach for better concepts and build better worlds. Running is always hard, but the dynamic tones of move music keep feet moving forward. Film music even finds a home in schools, where kids get the chance to step into a bigger universe. Sometimes we don't need lights and a script to have a meaningful film experience.

Sometimes we just need to let music speak for itself.


How do you use soundtracks?