Scoring Chase Scenes.
Chase Scene Music.
During the period of early film productions, the directors and film producers would use classical composers works to accentuate the mood or cinematic sequence that was happening on screen. This was so until the ability to record sound to tape in 1927. Classical composer’s works were still used for on screen dramatics such as love scenes and chases, one of particular familiarity being the March of the Swiss Soldiers from the William Tell Overture by Gioachino Rossini, which featured as the theme music on the classic show ‘The Lone Ranger’ (first aired on radio 1933). Below is a video showing this piece and other classical works featured in early cinema.
Primarily, music for more modern chase sequences is marked with the tension and anticipation of allegro percussion lines and random pitched instrument input. For example, the timpani or percussion could be playing a fast paced yet continuously steady rhythm line whilst the string and horn sections of an orchestra play random staccato stabs throughout a minor or chromatic scale which adds further tension to the expectancy provided by the percussion. This is evident in most, if not all, chase scenes and has become a pinnacle mark in the hollywood composer’s arsenal. This method has been used in the latest of the Batman franchise, The Dark Knight(2008. Dir. Nolan. C). The Score, composed by Hanz Zimmer (b.1957) and James Newton-Howard (b.1951) uses this technique of underlying string section chromaticism with rhythmically sequenced percussive lines. Below is a video of the chase scene music from The Dark Knight demonstrating this method of scoring.
The scene itself doesn’t feature any music until around 4:35″, although once the soundtrack comes in, it is a great example of mood music and chase scene scoring. To add to this (and in general interest), below is a link to an interview by Alex Billington for ‘First Showing.net’ with the composers, Zimmer and Newton-Howard, who talk about their collaboration together and how they were influenced on the score.