It’s all about setting the mood. The beauty of art is that it works as both an instrument to attract the attention of individuals as well as that of a crowd. One way it does this could be through the manipulation of our emotions, sinking deep within our subconscious. I like to believe that that’s part of the reason art ultimately becomes something we should live for. Our actions, thoughts, and mood can be challenged by most of the art-forms. Both cinema and music come under the disambiguation of art, and it is important to note here that the former wouldn’t be complete without the aid of the latter. In cinema, music is but a tool used to channel our feelings towards a particular emotion by being either loud and orchestral or silent and subtle. It gives the final blow, and adds to the expressions of the actors present, the choice of lighting and distance, the edit, and the overall direction. Simply put, without it, films would fail to have the impact it has on us today.
Music to us isn’t just something used to block out the sounds of reality. It enters through our ears and perforates our minds, covering every tiny bit of vacuum and mass within, until it has complete control. It changes how we look at the feelings of fear, happiness, sadness, and most importantly, love. In this article, we focus on film scores that help intensify the atmosphere when performing the act of making love. The activity is considered personal, intimate, and romantic. Great film composers have worked their best to create passionate, mysterious, engulfing scores for the films that they have worked on in order to “set the mood”, and their final products have often proved to be helpful in our private lives as well, maybe even more than when we hear them transpire from the surround systems at the local theater.
Below, we have taken into account those scores that have their highs and lows at the right places, are of satiable length, and can bring out our innermost thoughts and feelings by just existing. Take note that although most of them are romantic, some are more inclined to be mysterious, seductive, and just flat-out awesome than anything else. I guess it goes on to show that “the mood” can be set in different ways. This is as close as we can get to the existence of a perfect Utopian ambiance (as far as sex is concerned), to do what we want, how we want. With that said, here’s the list of best movie music to make sex to.
5. Gunn (1967)
- Composer: Henri Mancini (1924 – 1994)
- Director: Blake Edwards (1922 – 2010)
The movie that comes along with this soundtrack has got very little to do with love, romance, or anything related to intercourse. In fact, the closest it gets to all those things (story-wise) is through Edie Hart, the girlfriend of our protagonist and private-eye, Peter Gunn (who had his own show prior to the release of this picture). The plot has to do with Gunn being assigned a job that involves capturing the murderer of a gangster named Scarlotti, and it takes the form of a mystery-thriller through its execution. Henri Mancini and Blake Edwards were partners in film-making throughout most of their careers, working together on films like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961), ‘The Pink Panther’ (1963), ‘The Party’ (1968), ’10’ (1979), etc. Almost every picture they did together had a memorable soundtrack, and ‘Gunn’ may very well have the best of them all.
The main theme begins with a quick-paced beat, and flows through with its orchestral harmony and rich conducting in a way that it creates in our minds a sense of mystery, seduction, and intrigue. Often called the “coolest” piece of music ever written, it stands its chances to challenge even the landmark soundtrack of the ‘James Bond’ films, because it’s just that good. There are few pieces that set the mood like this one. Its loudness restricts any sort of silence and envelopes your partner and you in this musical barrel filled with brightness and passion. It has very little to do with romance, as stated earlier, but it fits perfectly because of how well it understands what we as human beings are attracted to and mesmerized by. In the last few seconds it raises its pitch and reaches its peak, after which the theme just keeps hitting, and hitting, and hitting, till all at once it ends, and you feel great.
4. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)
- Composer: Angelo Badalamenti (1937 -)
- Director: David Lynch (1946 -)
The saxophone has been referred to time and time again as the most lustful instrument in all the musical tools, and I wholeheartedly agree. There’s something in the way it picks up, and in the way it dips that I find exceptionally enticing. Maybe that’s why the music of ‘Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me’ has always stuck with me. The film is a prequel to the popular show (which boasted pretty much the same exact cast and crew with a couple of exceptions) ‘Twin Peaks’ (1990 – 1991) and is a fantasy-mystery-drama-comedy of sorts. Though it flopped, the show had managed to attract people because it promised something sinister underneath the murder-mystery that was brought to light on the show. A lot of factors went into making this promise a base of the program, including David Lynch’s visionary skills as a film-maker, the quirky characters, and the intoxicating soundtrack.
One of the highlights of ‘Twin Peaks’ on both platforms is the score, which was able to summarize all the themes of the movie and TV show into a couple of musical notes, cleverly conducted by the brilliant composer and frequent collaborator of Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti. It’s scary, but it invites. It’s mysterious, but it assures. It’s devoid of love, but then again… it isn’t. The atmospheric quality of this music is something that has affected me deeply. It’s tipsy in a lot of ways, and the soundtrack is highly addictive to listen to. With the main focus of the show and film being to hide darkness with rays of lying sunshine, the pieces constructed by Badalamenti helped in delivering the same. Quite seductive in the way it is carried out – being slow, maudlin, and inebriated – the soundtrack is perfect because of how passionate it is while being completely terrifying at the same time.
3. Taxi Driver (1976)
- Composer: Bernard Herrmann (1911 – 1975)
- Director: Martin Scorsese (1942 -)
I hate the fact that I can’t watch ‘Taxi Driver’ for the first time ever again. It’s one of the greatest films I’ve seen, and a detailed character study on top of that. The picture is able to describe downtown New York in a way that no other has, and it is led by a performance that few have topped in terms of quality. Arguably Martin Scorsese’s best work, ‘Taxi Driver’ is remembered today for being a film that showcases a man’s descent into insanity and the factors that trigger this. Almost everything about this movie is top-notch, from the meticulous direction, attention to detail, near-perfect writing, focused acting, and the hypnotic music by legend Bernard Herrmann. I hear in its flow of chords the representation of something washed down and dirty as a valuable entity of class and charisma. The film is of course, referring to the city in which its events occur when the music is played.
I have to bring up my infatuation with the saxophone once more, because that’s what you first notice of when the main theme starts. The note that allows the rest of the instrument to play hits you like a strong gush of wind, and the aftermath is cool and calming. The way this saxophone is incorporated into a type of smooth jazz is very clever. The piece is like nothing I’ve ever heard, and it celebrates the tainted, which I think has a very close relation to sex itself. Many of Scorsese’s films have been love letters to the cities they portray, and this is one as well. The music, therefore, has a bit of a romantic side to it, in the way it periodically amplifies and then condenses. It is very memorable and is different from the rest of the work that Herrmann is known for, all the while staying equally mysterious and hauling.
2. Bilitis (1977)
- Composer: Francis Lai (1932 -)
- Director: David Hamilton (1933 – 2016)
Although David Hamilton fell into a bit of controversy in the later years of his life, his skills as an artist is quite admirable. ‘Bilitis’ is not a good film by any standards, but its style is both seductive and enchanting. Part of this is due to Hamilton’s unique eye for visual beauty. A photographer by profession, he was quite well-known for taking pictures that resembled paintings using simple (but expensive) techniques like applying vaseline on the lens and adjusting the light. The other reason ‘Bilitis’ has a professional touch is Francis Lai’s score. The man understands the language of love perfectly, and has translated it into music through his many great compositions, this being one of his very best. The main theme is so raunchy yet lovely, and it’s as dreamy as his scores have ever gotten. Comparing this to ‘Melissa’, another piece in the soundtrack of this film, one is able to find the many layers of passion that has been explored by Lai through mere musical notes.
The score of this film is at times slow and surreal, but at others it is distinctly loud and commanding. When the tunes from this movie start playing, it becomes easy to forget the rest of the world around us. I imagine myself being nurtured in a cocoon (of sorts) built around me by the single notes that play during the main piece (Lai’s greatest works rarely used chords) which sounds like a strange new genre of erotic beach music. Simply put, both the main tracks of this film describe love and lovemaking perfectly, and they are powerful enough to make you feel nostalgic and calm. I don’t believe there is a lovelier soundtrack than the one to ‘Bilitis’. It’s the kind of stuff that provide a proper example of the word ‘beauty’.
1. The Devil In Miss Jones (1973)
- Composer: Alden Schuman (1924 – 2002)
- Singer: Linda November (1944 -)
- Director: Gerard Damiano (1928 – 2008)
When film-maker Jerry Damiano was denied the chance to use a Simon and Garfunkel song for his new film, the production added little known composer Alden Schuman to the team. Damiano, after the success of his outlandish pornographic film ‘Deep Throat’ (1972) that set off the ‘porno chic’, was ready to write and direct his first serious adult film, and he did so in the form of ‘The Devil In Miss Jones’. It was marketed with the tagline “If you have to go to hell… go for a reason” and performed well at the box office. The story is a personal drama about a woman who commits suicide, only to be guided by a man named Abaca into the depths of hell, despite her being the nicest person around. Roger Ebert gave the film a 3 out of 4 stars and called it the best of its genre. Sadly, following this picture, Schuman’s career went south and he never got to write music for another film that became a major hit.
The songs and music in this film were created in order to play while sex was being had on the side, but they are so emotionally powerful and moving on their own that they set themselves apart. Every track has a clear beat, a sort of rhythm to follow, and every single bit of it is divine. From the instrumental piece titled ‘Ladies In Love’ to the full-fledged song called ‘I’m Coming Home’ (sung with the earth-shattering voice of Linda November), the score to this film looks at sensual desires with feelings. It allows you to be, like a memorable line from the film states, “engulfed, consumed – by lust”. Alden Schuman has never received the respect he truly deserves because of his body of work being so tiny. Who knows what he would have done had he made it big! At present, about 45 years later, this is all we have to celebrate the unsung legend by. So go on, do it, and let the music you choose take control of you and your actions.
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