Film Music (VII) – Mixed Motions in “Sherlock Holmes”

Brief information about Sherlock Holmes: he is a fictional detective created by author and physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A London-based “consulting detective” whose abilities border on the fantastic, Holmes is famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise, and his use of forensic science skills to solve difficult cases.

Firstly, I want to talk about musical genre and texture. In this movie, composer who is Hans Zimmer preferred joyful Balkan musical style. What I mean is that in action movies, generally, composers create big orchestral sounds or use loud electronic instruments like guitar. However, due to the subject of Sherlock Holmes and the style of movie, we hear basic themes and joyful melodies. This music is created by different instruments like banjo, cimbalom, accordion, broken piano and squeaky violins.

What is mixed motion? It means sudden changing motions or many views on the same time. There are several types of mixed motion usage. In Sherlock Holmes, we will see and discuss the first type of it.

Please start from 1:14

Holmes realizes that something goes wrong, than music takes viewers into mysterious atmosphere. Violin part; fast and staccato G-C-A flat-C figuration is repeated very long and other violin part has a clear, long melody which comes from background. This combination creates stressful atmosphere. Viewers’ expectation is adventure frame because music prepares viewers to see that. As expected, stressful scene appears, but music forces us to think in different way. We are watching fight scene but music not like for a fight scene, because composer and director want to change our viewpoint. In order to understand, we should watch the movie from the beginning. However, if we look the title of video, we can easily understand the reason of mixed motion.  “That’s the Irene, that I knew” Music changes because, composer wants to show Holmes’ inner happiness. Firstly, music takes the role of narrator and than shifts to Holmes inner thoughts. This is Mixed Motion.

In the video we understand what mixed motions is. However, can composer achieve his goal successfully? Of course, this judgement would change from person to person but in my opinion, there are 2 good themes from which one is a stressful effect and the other a joyful one. When we look them separately, they are beautiful and effective. When we look at them successively, they need real passing theme or effect. Otherwise, it seems that something is missing.

PS: Composer works with Slovakian Musicians for this movie and you can watch their meetings.


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