Documentaries are a powerful medium for storytelling, providing a unique opportunity to educate, entertain and inspire audiences. A well-crafted documentary can transport viewers to another time or place, and music plays a crucial role in achieving that effect. From setting the tone to amplifying emotions, music is an essential tool for documentary filmmakers.
The use of music in documentaries has evolved over time. In the early days of documentary filmmaking, music was often used as a simple background score, with little consideration given to how it could enhance the story being told. However, as the genre has matured, so too has the use of music in documentaries. Today, music is often used in a more creative and intentional way, with filmmakers carefully selecting songs and scores that complement the visuals and add meaning to the narrative.
One of the best examples of the creative use of music in documentaries can be seen in the Netflix series Wild Wild Country. The series explores the controversial story of the Rajneeshpuram community, a group of followers of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh who set up a commune in rural Oregon in the 1980s. The series features an eclectic mix of music, ranging from classic rock to Indian devotional music, that helps to transport viewers to the world of the Rajneeshpuram community.
Another excellent example of the use of music in documentaries is the historical event documentary Apollo 11. The film tells the story of the first moon landing, using only archival footage and audio recordings from the time. The filmmakers made the bold decision to eschew a traditional score in favor of using only sounds from the mission itself, including the voices of the astronauts and mission control. The result is a film that feels immediate and authentic, immersing viewers in the experience of the moon landing.