Week Of November 1, 2004By Chris Fullman
Posted at November 6, 2004 - 7:51 PM GMT
Soundtracks are as important to a production as its actors. Music can easily bring out emotion, quickly altering your mood to fit in with the production to bring you into their world for a moment. Titanic's emotional power wouldn't have been as strong if it weren't for James Horner's score, just as I Robot wouldn't have been as good with it's powerful message of humanity and its quest to perfect itself without Marco Beltrami's score.
One of the most brilliant pieces of music I've heard in a TV show would have to be this episode. The standout piece would have been when we are first shown the poor soul alongside the river, strangled.
The music scored for this scene, and carried on to later scenes and built upon could be described no less as "morbidly romantic." The strong brooding solo strings convey a sense of despair, hopelessness, sadness, while also adding a sense of intrigue and curiosity into the mix.
The strings reminded me of the above-mentioned I Robot score, as well as that of one of the most popular video games in history, Myst.
However, disappointment appears when this reoccurring theme is not brought back during the most chilling scene in the episode, when the killer confesses that there is nothing more satisfying then watching the life fade away in the eyes of the deceased as they die. This would have been potentially jarring if the theme was in the background bringing back the sense of despair, hopelessness, and sadness. Instead, the scene probably invoked a sense of disbelief and shock.
Sometimes episodes don't require music, per say, as music may just get in the way of great movie telling. Part of the reason why the ambient/atmospheric genre in music is becoming so widespread is that you can listen to it without listening to it.
It adds as a background replacement to the regular white noise we all hear in everyday life. There are no lyrics; there are usually hints of music, or music weaving in and out of the composition, carrying us along on a journey.
This episode of CSI relied heavily on ambient/atmospheric presence rather than the standard score John M. Keane provides. That isn't to say that John didn't do the music, because it does take strong composers to create the perfect arrangement of ambience to a piece.
John does this, and there are very subtle hints of music in the mostly-ambient episode that uses heavy delay, reverb, and other filters to get just the right sound.
The only real strong musical piece in the episode is where Catherine and Grissom find the note in the doll's mouth, and as they pull it out, you almost hear a muted/muffled/ethereal woman's voice, that almost sounds hauntingly ghostly. This was a very good effect, as it helped the hairs raise on the back of your neck as the words "I have her" are shown on the scene.
Chris Fullman is a regular contributor to CSI Files. To learn more about him, visit his website.