The Role of Music in the Films “The Hours and the Third Man”


Since the invention of motion pictures, music has been a vital tool as a communication medium in films. As a matter of fact, the use of music resonates on the facets of the plot and its significance in defining and modeling the synopsis via creation of desired effects. Often, music takes the form of filmic metaphor, that is, the message being communicated. This reflective treatise explores models of communication via music. These models include theoretical and empirical music perception in film and its intrinsic role as part of significant relationship between image and sound in the context of cinema. Besides, the paper attempts to enumerate the various ways by which soundtrack of motion pictures supplement the themes and other literary devices employed by moviemakers. Moreover, the paper is specific on examples of these motion picture sound tracks across the two films, “The Hours”(Dir: Stephen Daldry, 2002) and “The Third Man” (Dir: Carol Reed, 1949) on the facets of music compositions by Philip Glass and Anton Karas respectively. Throughout these films, the thesis reviews musical devises and their use as mentioned interchangeably to create desired outcome of intrinsic communication via motion soundtracks. In addition, the relationship between visual components and auditory components are inspected for both dynamic and active cinema in order to predict a reliable multiplicity of experimental relations evolving across the narrative unfolds. Also, the paper is specific on cognitive approach in reflecting on musical communication in motion picture cinema. In conclusion, definite credence and attention will be directed towards experimental research on perception of audience to experience with motion pictures.


As a matter of fact, proper use of sound track in film background is of essence in that it is capable of clarifying events, conveying contradiction, and defining ambiguity (Boltz 434). Due to the fact that image and sound can be congruent of each other, the dramatic position forms the expectation and conventional anticipation as independent aspects resonating simultaneously to present the desired effects of use of music in films. The motion pictures soundtrack is used to create an enhanced, broadened, and practical meaning to narrative in the film. This is important in determining and analyzing the role of background sound track in films as related to themes displayed in motion pictures. Music and sound have the profound impact on the motion picture genre of literature. This literary devise is employed by film makers to illustrate the content of emotion and enhance drama in the narrative. In addition, music plays an essential role in manipulating sentiments and feelings of the audience or the viewers. Numerous aspects of musical communication have been explored by different authors. These aspects are inclusive of the balance between emotions and motion picture display, theme and composition, and use of rhythm to create harmony.

On the periphery of music as a tool for expression, communication models such as tripartite was proposed in 1980 by Campbell to include listener, performer and composer. Over time, this concept has been expounded to include constituent parts which are elegantly arranged to embrace elucidation for every existing interrelationship. Specifically, to achieve this intention, the performer is often expected to convey message of the composer to the audience or listeners. This process involves multiple interactions among the concepts of recording, decoding and coding (Boltz 437). In the process, musical composition arranges emotions and relieves the tension depending on the speed of the tunes and their manipulation. Reflectively, music composition defines cultural perceptual artifact expected to be understood by ‘enculturated listeners’ who share almost similar explicit and implicit structures of knowledge. Therefore, the degree of success in use of music in a film to communicate musical concept is congruent to magnitude of agreement and interpretation between expressive intent and emotional attachments which the message contains against the perception by the audience watching the film. Therefore, “the role of the composer, typically, is dramatically influenced by the wishes and express input of the director” (Boltz 403). Reflectively, these meta-symbolic thought units form part of mental representations activated in the entire process of performing, creating and listening to sound generated by music. The key conceptualization of this reflective treatise is an in-depth exploration of the role of music by Philip Glass in “The Hours” (Dir: Stephen Daldry, 2002) and Anton Karas in “The Third Man” (Dir: Carol Reed, 1949). The paper resonates on analysis, description and interpretation of how Philip Glass’ music works in the film “The Hours”. Besides, the paper explores the same concepts in musical composition by Anton Karas in the film “The Third Man”. In addition, the treatise examines concepts of emotion as introduced by music in these films simultaneously though as independent of each other.

Scope and Objective of the Study

Music creates ambience in the plot and ensures continuality as integrated by emotions. In the process, emotional act is invoked for different characterized trait played by each character in the cast. In the process, the emotional play is organized in music to make the audience appreciate and feel the same way as expected by the film maker. From the type of music being played, the audience can predict the turn of events in the next scene, whether bad or good. Besides, music evokes sensation horror of the synopsis. Without music, narratives presented in motion pictures would have minimal impacts on the audience as compared to the same with a variety of musical soundtracks. In addition, music enables the audience to identify themselves with a character and relate to a scenario within the film. For instance, happy composition relaxes the mood in the movie and sadness intensifies the same. Thus, the main objective of the research thesis is analysis of distinctive music based on the above concepts. Also, the paper identifies sound effects such as ambient sound within the musical score incorporated to complete other effects such as digenetic sounds dependent on sight upon hearing. To help narrate the story, music explains imagery and symbolism depending on the view of the audience. In a bid to interpret the theme, character traits, and mood, music composition comes in hand. The objective capture the musical composition by Philip Glass in “The Hours” film (Dir: Stephen Daldry, 2002) and Anton Karas in “The Third Man” film (Dir: Carol Reed, 1949) on the significance of these compositions and distinguish unique characteristic in each. Besides, the treatise identifies literary styles such as repetition, rhyme, and esthetic functionality to create right mood and support various themes narrated in motion picture films.

Literature Review

Music expression in motion picture films assumes different models which often operate simultaneously. Overtime, various authors have investigated these models comprehensively from Gabrielsson in 1983 to Olugushi in 1987. Interestingly, these models share the same components on the basis of listener, performer and composer. Elegantly, Boltz (2001) elaborated and comprehensively expanded the understanding of significance of musical composition and soundtracks in motion picture films to create an elucidated and in-depth interrelationships existing between image motion and music on the background. In order to achieve this, a film maker must collaborate with a composer of music and soundtrack for the background to create intended feeling universal to listeners or audience of the final product of this fusion. Multiply, this process is inclusive of coding, recording, and decoding since music is naturally a perceptual artifact defined by culture that exists in the perception of the ‘encultured listeners’ (Boltz 435).

According to Zingale (2011), successful communication of music in a motion picture film depends on the magnitude of progressive sharing of explicit and implicit synopsis theme structure. Thus, magnitude must assimilate emotions and intrinsically express the intent of a message as perceived by the audience (Zingale 01). In addition, this process should be inclusive of parsing and grouping of various thought elements that are presentable via emotional stimulation and presentation to factor in listening, performing, and creating (Boltz 432). Within a musical composition or soundtracks, there are various ‘meta-symbols’ which functions as thought units to create a practical understanding of communication and information through emotional expression in music in a motion picture film.

Anton Karas Composition in the Film “The Third Man”

Anton Karas performed the score in the film “The Third Man which he wrote. Factually, this composition includes zither instrument sound common in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In order to depict the mood of the post Second World War in Vienna, the narrative to the film “The Third Man demanded appropriate music away from the usual heavy schmaltzy mixed with ‘orchestral waltzes’. Since Anton Karas music consists of fascinating jangling music of melancholy nature, Reed adopted this kind of music for the score of the film “The Third Man”. As observed by many reviewers and critiques, everyone seems to agree with the fact that this composition best suits the narrative and mood at the time of its release. As reported, this musical composition by Anton Karas in the film “The Third Man had the audience “in a dither with his zither” (Zingale 01). Also referred to as “The Harry Lime Theme”, this instrumental composition by Anton formed the sole soundtrack for the entire film. Zither composition appreciated culture of Vienna at the time of its release. Reflectively, this composition was a melody modification from a practice book. Originally released in London in 1949, the “Harry Lime Theme” score became very successful with the audience after the release premiere. Released as a single, this composition had the “Harry Lime theme” on side A, and “Café Mozart Waltz” on side B (Zingale 01).

Philip Glass composition in the film “The Hours

An American born composer, Philip Glass is recognized for his contribution in classical music composition in the 20th century. Philip’s composition is controversially referred to as minimalist. As a soundtrack composer in the film “The Hours, Philip presents himself as an author of repetitive structured music which has stylistically evolved over time. The background music for the film “The Hours presents a prolific composition which ensembles symphonies, chamber music and operas (Grenade 123). This romantic and lyrical style played out in the film score for the motion picture film “The Hours. Evocated in thematically instigated improvisatory chords, sound tracks for this film demonstrate the chamber textured orchestral classic technique of rigorously and precise popular excursions in modern composition (Grenade 02). In addition, these soundtracks are inclusive of a fusion of electronic music, ambient music, and world music.


In order to present a clear understanding in of significance of music composition by Philip Glass in “The Hours” (Dir: Stephen Daldry, 2002) and Anton Karas in “The third Man” (Dir: Carol Reed, 1949), it is essential to resonate on the unique feature of each composition and relate them to the themes, that is, qualitative and quantitative analysis of symbolic ‘tonation’ and movement as a part of the desired outcome in terms of perception by the audience. As a matter of fact, music composition is more than just the sound especially in movies (Zingale 01). It reflects the mood of the displayed motion pictures and explains themes through sound. For instance, slow music may depict somber or deep love theme in a scene. On the other hand, fast and intense music may depict joy or intense conflict depending on the mix of instruments used and the motion pictures displayed (Cohen 894).

Specifically, through physical observation of the motion pictures in each of the films and the soundtrack in the background for every scene, it is important to interpret the significance of each composition by use of literary analysis tools such as observation of symbolism, ‘tonation’, mood of each episode, the character traits of each character, and other compositions by the same authors. In addition, a complete understanding and interpretation should examine unique feature of these compositions and relate theme to the setting of the film, culture of the audience at the time of production, and the message carried by the film. Notwithstanding, the methodology includes analysis of “The Harry Lime Theme”, an instrumental composition by Anton which formed the sole soundtrack for the entire film called ‘Zither Composition’ and this style appreciated culture of Vienna at that time after the Second World War (Zingale 01). Besides, it also reflects on the repetitive soundtracks in the film “The Hours”, a composition by Philip Glass who presents himself as an author of repetitive stylistic structured music which has evolved over time (Grenade 04). In this treatise, these aspects are analyzed and appropriate techniques and tools embraced to explain and extrapolate the significance of these music compositions in the above films.

Analysis of role of music in the film “The Third Man”

The film “The Third Man” is often described as a classical masterpiece of the early 1950s due to its unique theme and musical composition by Anton Karas (Zingale 01). The unique musical composition score, cinematography, and performances have perfectly fused the narrative by Graham Greene and artistic music by Anton using zither only. Across the film, zither music has expressed the main theme especially when the characters interact depending on emotion and the mood in every scene. Therefore, this part reflects on role of artistic composition by Anton in the scenes across the movie.

Type of music in the film “The Third Man”

The type of music used as soundtrack for the movie “The Third Man is a composition of Zither. A single but frothy composition, this kind of music best suits the culture of Vienna at the time of its release, as it symbolizes the evocation purpose especially after the aftermath of the Second World War. To align to the traditional setting aspects on production design and the society, this composition heightens hyper-real palate of emotional expression. Moreover, this choice of music was essential in the need for a proper balance of production aural, sound accordion, and permeates scenes. Subsequently, this balance has facilitated the addition of decadent love feeling across the film and in the cast. Therefore, the choice of instrument used and monotony of the soundtrack in the film “The Third Man to create the unique coded sounds for recognizable geographical access (Zingale 01).

Features of the music in the film “The Third Man”

Classified as one of the greatest musical composition in film noirs, the soundtrack by Anton has a sense of palatable place. In line with the nature of structures at the time of its release, bombed buildings, decaying facades, and cracked streets, the sound of the background music from zither creates an enigmatic visual production laced with an in-depth feeling of historical dark moment expressed via creation of a sound production that is laced with instrumental creation of dread. Despite the rumble and tumble of the time, Vienna City is presented as a dream city of grandeur and nostalgia it once had. To dramatize this state, the score was created by Anton and directed by Carol Reed. In addition, this composition presents the instinct of two extreme situations to the viewers. As viewers absorb the acts in oppressive scenes, Anton Karas music composition creeps in the background of the motion pictures and creates a caricature in the minds of the audience as a reminder of the lost in the just concluded war such as destroyed buildings, cracked streets, and poor lighting (Boltz 451). Besides, this juxtaposition startles with its hallmark score of single instrumentation to create successful film music for the movie “The Third Man”. Exclusively, this composition is performed a stringed instrument called zither. The strings of this instrument running longer than the body are the primary resonators. Originally used in Australia, Karas choice of this instrument creates uniqueness in composition by successfully appropriating its music (Zingale 01).

Significance of the music in the film “The Third Man”

Throughout the film, Karas musical composition has helped to fine tune the two main themes of “The Harry Lime Theme” and “The Café Mozart Waltz Theme”. On the margins of the “Harry Lime Theme”, this tune of jaunty nature has a baseline and functions in square four between alternating dominant and tonic variations. Musically, this presentation is but a simple expression of various themes occurring in a series of events. Intrinsically, on the facets of nostalgia, these variations speak tones of dormant and tonic expression to create a sentimental charm carried outside the frame of viewing. Besides the “Harry Theme”, “The Café Mozart Waltz” theme creates a lilting melody of more ironic nature especially with the arrangement of dormant and tonic expressions aligned to perfectly fit in the context (Zingale 01). According to Zingale:

“Anton Karas’ zither-only score also plays an important part in the movie’s success, but while the soundtrack could have just as easily been recorded with a more conventional string instrument, it is hard to imagine a film surrounded by so many bright lights and dark shadows being shot in anything other than black and white” (Zingale 01).

The sound in this composition is uniform with rich, deep bass strings, proper ‘tonation’, and upper register brightness. Besides, the performance of this masterpiece composition on zither instrument creates a feeling of sensitivity and general panache. According to Richard Wagner, proper use of musical instrument in film soundtrack creates a feeling of complete uniformity as it expresses the hidden components which cannot be explained by mere words (Zingale 01). Applying the same principles to this film, it is apparent that the composition by Anton share of the same ideology in that zither organ creates a resounding feeling and in the process earmarks symbolism on its own to assign a relevant connotation as perceived by the audience. Interestingly, this feeling remains intact in what is called unconsummated symbolic interaction between music and motion pictures (Boltz 434). According to Steven Soderbergh, “It (score) makes it very much a fable. It gives you a spin. And you cannot imagine the film without it” (The Third Man audio commentary). Subsequently, the theme of Anton’s music in this film creates the “very human presence felt through the performance of a vocalist… to move the musical symbol one step closer towards consummation” (The Third Man audio commentary).

The instrumentation of this composition has no voice, a common characteristic of classical compositions. Interestingly, this aspect is factored in so as to minimize the curiosity on the size of the symphony orchestra to hold the audience and keep them interested (Boltz 454). Therefore, to create a comfortable impact, the composition of this film is solely from Anton who perfected the balance between consummated symbolism and cinematic images. Anton, in his creation, used catchy and ‘twangy’ soundtrack music for the background of the film to work out a match between the displayed images and emotions.

Across the movie, Anton’s music crams cinematic plums creating ingenious twists of the plot, atmospheric background, subtle details, and characterization to create an intrinsic narrative that balances tension and romance through music. As an entertainment genre, the background music excites brilliance and compress emotions within the motion picture for every scene. This emotional balance creates the environment of unpredictability as surprises pops-up periodically. In addition, emotion balance creates a perfect environment for lightening darker depressions via a light touch with macabre glints (Cohen 899).

Moreover, as a contra pointer, Anton’s composition creates deep tension rather than harmony as expected. Composed entirely by instrument, that is, zither, the music score, therefore, is unique and very rare since the beginning of musical composition for film background tracks. In the opening of the film, the first shot is interesting on the facets of musical composition and visualization. At the beginning, the music played is more of “resort-like” presenting the first contradiction since it is immediately followed by a shot in a scene where the snow is heavily falling. Moreover, the mood of the music at the beginning of the movie is more relaxing, ambient, and slow in contradiction to the displayed visualization of motion picture of battalion of solders and post war damages on buildings, streets, and bridges. Moreover, at the start, the music title is displayed as it is played deeply by an unknown artist to create a feeling of self consciousness. Interestingly, this aspect open door to an abstract wonderfully shot and allows the audience or the viewer to have an intrinsic view of the instrument for composition of background music as its strings are systematically and artistically pulled to create a variation of tones and ‘tonation’. As curtain swings open, the viewer can spot strong horizontal lines. At this point, the audience is prepared to view a romantic visualization of motion picture as expected by the soft composition. However, as the film commences on, the relaxed mood changes and is replaced by rough rubble of Vienna ruins after the post Second World War across Continental Europe. The footage used for the opening shot is conspicuously based on orchestra composition of balanced instrumentation typical at the time of the release and culture of its setting (Cohen 896). Artistically, complexity in the plot is introduced at the beginning and does not change until the end. Occurring in layers, the opening of the film The Third Man, plot, climax and closing are characterized by the layers of the voice over and musical aural. Interestingly, the music played in the chase to the square has both visual and musical appeal worth analyzing. The music starts playing when Harry Lime’s face is lit up reflecting a connection with this character. Not only does the music played lighten Lime’s face, but also the entire shot for this scene. Subsequently, music in this scene helps quell tension and lower the stakes involved (Zingale 01).

Reflectively, the played music in this instance creates and sustains the expectation of the audience, that is, light mood to follow after Lime’s face is lit up. At the middle of this scene, the director, Carol Reed, holds music for some time until Lime makes for the open square. Before Lime runs to the open square, there was deep tension. In bids to use absence of music to intensify it further, Carol succeeds by withdrawing music to heighten expectations and make tension even thicker. On making it to the open square as expected by the audience, music is brought back to quell the tensed expectation and lower the stakes in preparation for the next exciting shot (Zingale 01). Consequently, use of absence of music briefly in this scene alters musical composition to define the aspect of tension. By balancing lighting, images displayed, and music played, the overall effect embraces interpretation, explicit, processing and retention of events in context. From the stimuli created by movie excerpts and series of dynamic structural alignment, Anton’s music has played a dominant role as associational judgment shifts from accent structure to receding support role. This process is called focusing attention of the audience to visual image aspect via music (Boltz, 431).

Analysis of the role of music in the film “The Hours”

Philip Glass musical composition for the film “The Hours” (Dir: Stephen Daldry, 2002) is often described as a comprehensive repetitive art since it contains numerous emotive haunting and lyrical music produced by Glass. This composition perfectly and superbly complements the theme of the movie and expresses different emotions as displayed by the motion pictures. Philip’s composition in the movie “The Hours has transformed this motion picture film into a powerful drama. In the film background, Glass uses repetition for emphasis of emotional balance and mood across the shots or scenes (Grenade 01). This kind of musical composition is unique in the sense that it uses cycle system most appropriate for the theme of the film “The Hours”. In the film, Stephen Daldry’s narrative is a collection of script representing three different women who live in different dimensions of time, but are represented as coexisting simultaneously in one film.

Type of music in the film “The Hours”

Music is symbolic of the invisible aspects of emotive and themes in a piece of literature such as motion picture film. Across the film, Glass’ music is consistent though repetitive and lavish especially on the facets of non-separately rhymes and swirling music. In order to fully understand the kind of music use in the film, it is of essence to reflect on repetition, the magnitude of the same, rhymes and rhythm, and their connection to what is displayed in the screen (Grenade 01). As a matter of fact, Glass’ musical composition in the film is described as a score which defines synopsis of the storyline by application of reacquiring esthetic, dramatic, visionary, and pleasing soundtrack which appeals to the audience. Besides, this masterpiece has been used by the director to lightens up intense scenes and provide a compact connection between different scenes occurring concurrently. In line with Glass’ composition, the repetitive music reflects what is displayed in the screen (Grenade 01).

Features of the music in the film “The Hours”

In the process of creating ambience and affirming the plot, musical composition in the film “The Hoursis the most appropriate for the film. The features such as repetition and rhyme creates a lasting impact that artistically facilitates the evocation of emotions of the cast of characters, while at the same time, making the viewers develop same notion and feeling. In instances where repetition is frequent, the audience is in a position to predict the mood and prepare for an eerie infatuation of tension or joy (Cohen 921). Without Glass’ composition, the film would be incomplete and almost impossible to understand especially on the periphery of emotional display. Interestingly, this kind of music evokes sensation and relates situational occurrences across the shots. For instance, a slow dragging composition would inform the audience of sadness, and a light song resonate a relaxed mood the character feels. Therefore, a happy composition lightens the perceived mood in the film (Cohen 887).

Significance of the music in the film The Hours

Stephen Daldry’s film “The Hours cannot function properly without Glass’ composition as its soundtrack. Despite the different time setting for the three women balanced simultaneously in the film, Glass’ music bridges the gap of variance in time through repetition. The main actor, Virginia Woolf displays minute kindness acts, randomly swinging moods, deviation from normalcy. These tendencies are artistically brought out in the film through use of music to depict in different emotions. In the words of Virginia Woolf, “the question of things happening, normally, all the time” (Grenade 01) is vital in selecting the right composition for a film soundtrack. The nonesuch composition by Glass comes in handy to solve the puzzle (Grenade 01). The abrasive mixture of harmonies in this composition signifies loathing uncertainty, and faster rhythm signifies pursuit, and sustained high pitch is symbolic of prosthetic horror heralded to ensure that the audience gives the film undistracted attention (Boltz 445). Subsequently, Glass composition for this film provides a simple and complex grid by the twisting turns that propagate a sequence of interacting events and faces to fragment various pieces of shots into a satisfying and rich movie.

The film is characterized by a thread of repetitive gestures that rhyme. For instance, unexpected arrival early before the predicted time, a kiss on the lips, and bunch and bouquet of flowers in vases blossoming multiply in the same way as bowed arpeggios. This setting requires sophistication provided by Glass’ composition and proceeds to form a permanent signature for the rest of the film. Interestingly, the music is realistic and doesn’t force emotion feeling upon the viewers or characters. In the extensive “morning passages” parts, the music composition creates a feeling of being in a piano concert hall to match the shot as displayed in the screen (Grenade 01). To skewer hollow characters, this composition functions as a modified classical music to match the images and maintain a superb score. In addition, this artistic composition adds depth and dignity to various aspects in the film and the characters. From triumphs to tragedies, small, big and ordinary to complex life, this music is inclusive of artistic echelons and satisfies theme of the narrative film. In this context, Glass’ composition creates a computable balance between cinematic images and verbal dialogue to create a relevant impact on the audience in the score. Besides, the score component is intrinsic of unconsummated symbolism felt as the music plays in the background towards total consummation (Cohen 899). Besides, this composition signifies contextual aspects of pure signification by music as it carries with it a highly integrated and coded inherent syntactical relationship as the audience attempts to associate one tone to a scene and with another.

In addition, its repetitive pattern provides meaning and organization sense as extra musical interaction creates absolute music. Moreover, this interaction has been canonized in the background music in line with the expected convectional satisfaction as anticipated implicitly by the audience (Boltz 439). As the music commences, the acculturated audience are in a position to relate circumstances surrounding a particular scene by the speed of music played. The opening and closing credit title music by Glass illustrates recurring themes of musical nature. This is significant in interpreting situations and behavior and role of characters as presented by their traits (Grenade 01). Also, Glass’ music, at subconscious level, fulfills the role of communicating psychological drama underlying the narrative. As stated by Cohen (2001),

Using other physiological indicators (heart rate, skin conductance) to study emotional experiences with music, and compares with self as represented in music is of essence (Cohen 952).

As sonic in nature, Glass’ music is digenetic in nature in that it enables the audience to understand intentions of characters predicted in the orchestral score(Grenade 01). However, this alone is not comprehensive enough to come to a conclusion. Therefore, both monolithic and discursive fields should be interacted and quantified to confirm the producer’s intentions. Fortunately, the soundtrack for this film has captured this aspect and comfortably presents a balanced inviolable rule (Cohen 895). In addition, this principle is complete in the composition same as subordination of dialogue and image musical components inaudibly. Since pictures and words used in the film merely resonate on primary objective of response to attitudes, emotions, and values, incorporation of music as an active component by Glass has introduced connotative and denotative qualities to the pictures and words used. Subsequently, this musical composition is successful in conforming, contesting, and complementing differences and similarities between pictures and emotion (Boltz 432).

Glass’ musical composition is consistent with the theme since it provides differential elaboration and variant meaning to ultimately create an invertible perceived meaning. Hence, this classical composition is significant in validating meaning from motion pictures to music in the background. In conformance, this composition exhibits coherent collision which is not contradicting thematic formulation. Since the music is consistent with the image picture shown, it is in order to state that this piece of genre has an elaborating module for understanding intentions of the movie producer (Grenade 01). Besides, across the film, the music playing in the background creates a feeling of aura due to its invisibility as a technical tool of focus in recessive form to ensure that it uniformly maintain dominance.

Though constantly and consistently playing in the background, this music is not heard consciously. Rather, it functions actively in the subconscious mind as it leads audience to the preceding scene. Besides, tonal balancing makes this music a subordinate to visuals and dialogue, though it is part of the narrative vehicle. Notwithstanding, this musical masterpiece used in the film “The Hours is specific on the mood and emotions displayed by characters and visual images displayed (Cohen 893). As a matter of fact, in itself, this music signifies emotions besides suggesting the same in the film. As an aspect of narrative cueing, this composition has referential significance as it reflects on formal demarcation, establishing character traits and geographical setting as an indication of connotative intercepts and events occurring simultaneously as a illustrated by motion pictures. In addition, Glass’ music offers continuity to the film by use of repetition. Through rhythmic continuity and formal shots, this aspect creates a consistent and in-depth transition from a scene to another as it fills the gaps found between two scenes (Grenade 02). Glass states that “Writing music is listening to music; you don not have to imagine it, it is already there” (Glass audio CD). Through series of consistent variation and repetition in the instrumentation and musical material, this musical composition facilitates contraction of relevant and formal unity in the story line and synopsis (Cohen 898).

As a matter of fact, reflecting on theorized treatises, film music in the movie “The Hourscreates a compact score with the typical role of reinforcing and augmenting emotional aspects of this cinematic narrative. Through the sound, this aspect is fully addressed in consultation with the theme proposed by the film director (Boltz 432). This multifaceted soundtrack has succeeded in constructing a collaborative, interesting, and entertaining piece of art. Ultimately, the audience is put in a position to elicit predictable emotional response as part of conveyed dramatic film intentions. After delineating the emotions, this music enumerates clear possibilities on alternatives available in interpreting motion picture conveyed to the viewers.

Since it provides listeners with a cue on the supposed emotion, Glass’ composition presets familiar, disturbing, comforting, and romantic aspects as displayed by characters in the film. Therefore, within this capacity, Glass has succeeded in enhancing ambiguity level significantly as part of inherent visual scenes (Grenade 01). To create abstraction, symbolic use of music to express emotion is intrinsic of visual stimulation (Boltz 433). For example, in bird’s funeral, the mood is intense and music played in the background repetitively confirm to the expectation as birds chirrup in the background. Symbolically, the slow pace of the tone at this moment signifies intense emotions and dissolution in a dark world of unknown (Grenade 02). Reflectively, influence exerted by a composition score is dependent on the magnitude of ambiguity. Therefore, this music being more ambiguous attracts deep interest of interpretation of every scene. In addition, as a conveyer of the scope of The Hours”, Glass’ music is effective in communicating the epic of the movie as displayed in motion picture. In his own words, Glass asserts that “Music is an underground river: you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going” (Glass audio CD).

Besides, the same role is dependent on physical volumes and “depth in space” (Cohen 895) and places the different dimensions of time appropriately. Through authentication of time frame and era of each time placement, this music fuses nostalgia to entertainment effortlessly and creates a sense of power or excessive energy. Through his composition, Glass’ music reinforces perceived energy by its tone and rhythmic variances (Grenade 02). In this instance, his composition manipulates the perceived energy downward by introducing lightening melodies. In conformity to the intended message by the director, this composition conveys similar perspective of the massage in the motion narrative and perfectly relates character traits on screen (Boltz 442). Subsequently, this aspect substantially influence the general perception of the audience and dynamics controlling the cinematic meaning attached to each shot as presented in sound in the background. For instance, in the first shot, deep water appears conspicuously after which a soliloquy dialogue relate to the audience deep emotion to expect. After penning down her thought, Woolf leaves. Immediately, to concur with the tensed satiation, soft mellow music runs in the background to manipulate and tone down the building tension (Grenade 01).

The trembling palm as Woolf write her letter is toned down by the soft music and prepares the audience for more tension. More or less, a completion of the last part or being repeated in the last part, the music in this scene is heavy with deep tension as the character walks into the swelling and unfriendly river (Grenade 01). In the background, the long queer and dragging music succeeds in perfectly displaying this emotional turmoil. Conveying message for each passage or shot at a time, this composition accompanies montage sequences that implies changes occurring as the film proceeds (Cohen 886).

Glass’ music conveys the thoughts, feelings, and internal life of characters in the film “The Hours”. In the process of augmenting expressed but unspoken implications and thoughts, this composition creates an interesting tool for understanding the underlying drama and psychological refinements (Boltz 434). Through The Hours score, each character is conveyed and associated with a composition theme, that is, the audience is able to associate a particular sound to a character or character trait of that character. Without Glass’ composition, this aspect would remain void and various character traits and significance of a character would not be fully realized or altogether cease to function symbolically (Cohen 882). A cross the shots, use of music to personify a character are consistent and communicate coherent ideas which are defined clearly to maintain the created identity especially when the same has been modified in the previous appearance. In the process, this aspect of music purpose to symbolically represent a trait, idea, mind state, and place (Boltz 431).

In the closing sequence, Glass’ music comes in handy, played as soft piano to point out deep emotions and a state of give up and regrets. When the light is put out, and a door closed, the background music then gradually intensifies until the character drowns in the river. Repetitively, the character, Virginia Wolf utters the words “always the years, always the hours” as the sound from the piano repeats itself for emphasis in line with the thoughts of the character. As the music plays in the background, it is apparent that the mood is intense same as the dark background displayed in the shot. The deep emotions are drowned in the intense but very soft music by Glass played rhythmically to symbolize a sad ending (Grenade 02).

Acted by Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown and Clarissa Vaughan, this masterpiece is dependent on the slow music done repetitively and increasing gradually as emotions swifts. With a replete of recurring themes, the motion picture appearances across the lives of these three characters serves to identify the purpose of the music drama which is identical of the emotion displayed. Besides, communicating character representation and general mood, the artistically-crafted musical score by Glass establishes a sense of sequential order in the formal structure of the film. Boltz (2001) states that “the interpolative framework or visual imagery of an individual, even in the absence of an accompanying film” but also appearance domain (Boltz 446).

Arguably, this aspect structures the film and shapes the domains of understanding appearance, reappearance, and disappearance of soundtrack across the movie. This aspect is true in the composition by Anton and Grass.

Similarities in the two compositions

Reflectively, the music used in these two films coalesces on the same symbolic meanings to create a sense of sequential order. On this facet, these compositions are intrinsic of same sound movements. Though these compositions are simple in creation, they represent a recurrent theme characterized by emphasis on the beginning and ending. Moreover, these compositions assign connotation to align ambiguity to memory and visualization of scenes. According to Boltz (2001),

Overall results from the recognition memory task illustrate that music does not simply convey different moods that can bias the interpretative framework or visual imagery of an individual, even in the absence of an accompanying film. Instead, music appears to exert a direct influence on the cognitive processing of a film by guiding selective attending toward mood-consistent information and away from other information that is inconsistent with its affective valence (Boltz 446).

Besides audio, visual, and mood congruent component relations, the salient moments displayed musical sound attracts attention to occurring events functioning concurrently within visual images (Boltz 446).


Conclusively, Anton and Glass have succeeded in incorporating their composition as soundtrack for the films “The Third Man and “The Hoursrespectively. Accented on attentive structure alignment, focusing devise in understanding the role of musical composition in a film should be inclusive of a continuum of relevant score as component of digenesis which allows the viewers to make prior judgment and remain attentive as the film rolls. Coherently, the level of auditory components have different cinematic repertoire for sensory connection; commonly referred to as context modality. Generally, from the stimuli created by movie excerpts and series of dynamic structural alignment, Anton and Glass’ music have played dominant role as associational judgment shifts from accent structure to receding support role in these films.

Works Cited

Boltz, M. “Musical Soundtracks as a schematic influence on the cognitive processing of filmed events”. In Musical Perception, 18.4 (2001): 427-454. Print.

Cohen, Annabel. J. “Music as a source of emotion in film, in Music and Emotions: Theory and Research, ed. Patrik N. Juslin and John A. Sloboda, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.

Grenade, A. Rev. of The Hour, dir. Daldry, Stephen. Sound trackers, 2007. Print. “Glass: a portrait of Philip in twelve parts”, disc 1, 2007

Soderbergh, Steven and Gilroy, T. Commentary of The Third Man. IMDB, 2007. CD.

Zingale, J. Rev. of The Third Man, dir. Carol. Reed, Liverpool University, 2009. Print.

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Premium Papers. (2023, January 9). The Role of Music in the Films “The Hours and the Third Man”. Retrieved from


Premium Papers. (2023, January 9). The Role of Music in the Films “The Hours and the Third Man”.

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"The Role of Music in the Films “The Hours and the Third Man”." Premium Papers, 9 Jan. 2023,


Premium Papers. (2023) 'The Role of Music in the Films “The Hours and the Third Man”'. 9 January.


Premium Papers. 2023. "The Role of Music in the Films “The Hours and the Third Man”." January 9, 2023.

1. Premium Papers. "The Role of Music in the Films “The Hours and the Third Man”." January 9, 2023.


Premium Papers. "The Role of Music in the Films “The Hours and the Third Man”." January 9, 2023.