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How Different Film Genres Use Music

Music in films has come a long way and depending on which type of movie genre you’re producing it’s the music you’ll choose.

The soundtrack chosen for a movie is specifically curated and refined to accompany every scene and enhance the audience’s experience. No song, whether it’s original for the movie or not, is chosen randomly and without meaning, and this is the reason why there are movies and video games that tend to win many awards for their on-spot music selection.

In the following article, we’ll share some light on the relationship between music and film genres, focusing on the three that changed cinema forever: the Western, horror, and romance.

Film Genres And Music

Each film genre has its own music selection, and the choice of the music theme for a project is crucial to impact the audience. Selecting music for a film or video game lays on the emotion the producer and the director want the people to feel when they see a specific scene.

There are common themes shared among movies that are of the same genre, and each category has its unique style that is relatively easy to identify. For example, action movies typically include orchestral notes to create suspense and anticipation, like the famous theme of the film series Mission: Impossible, starring Tom Cruise.

As for romance, violins and classical music are at their peak, simulating the effect of love and romance that the characters feel. You might remember the well-known scene of Titanic where Rose and Jack are looking at the horizon while a flute-based song is playing in the background.

As years pass by and music evolves, movies and video games incorporate more styles into their scenes to keep up with what the audience is listening to. Including electronic, pop, and rock music, as well as jazz and ambient music, there’s no limit to music themes.

Film genres follow a certain path regarding music, but this is not as strict as before, and in the following parts we’ll go over some key aspects of three defining film genres: Western, horror, and romance.


There are different music genres in a film that are easy to spot, and we’ll start with Western. A simple diatonic harmony (chords or notes that relate to a certain key) is used in a Western movie, with an affirmative major key as a dominant mode. When necessary, the key shifts to a minor.

The music in Western films has certain aspects characteristic to the genre, such as melodies with pastoral strings, brass and horn instruments, and folk melodies to achieve a classical United States style.

Traditional Western musical structures have been based on a number of formal models. The opera, concerto, and symphony are all examples of general organizational structures for the production of music. Other formal components, including the rondo form, theme and variations, and sonata form, are also in use within these. These structures predominate most Western classical music and have done so for more than three centuries.


For instance, horror movies frequently omit melody. Instruments are employed outside the bounds of their tessituras and frequently in unusual ways (vibraphones bowed, strings using the backs of their bows, etc.).

The music's tonal center disappears at times of crisis. Pitch instability occurs, and glissandi are scored for a variety of instruments. Discord is permitted, and the dominant style is florid and expressionistic, with the massive orchestral drop from nowhere serving as a distinctive motif. It is prominent in the minor key.

Choosing the right music genre for horror films can enhance the audience’s experience and feelings. Current horror films are not solely based on frightening individuals—thus what was thought to scare people doesn’t do it anymore—but rather create suspense and anticipation for what’s going to happen.

Psychological thrillers use similar approaches, and this film genre is what people are looking for these days, as well as video games in the same category.


Melodrama features expansive, orchestral melodies that often dominate the action they accompany. These melodies are lyrical and extended in line.

Melodrama, therefore, values melody. Additionally, it is audible that a specific melody style—medium-to-slow paced, longline, and lyrical—predominates. From high opera to modern pop and rock music, love songs are often slower-paced ballads that capture the wistful sigh after the beloved.

Music in romance films typically involves an orchestra, with violins as main characters, that plays inspiring notes as the plot unfolds. Currently, many pop songs are tuned into violin versions to be added in romance films, triggering the audience’s memories of other times when they’ve heard them.

This creates a unique experience for each user that will impact how they view the film or enjoy the video game they’re playing.

Music In Film & Video Games

In this article, we talked about different music genres in films and how they can change the final result of the project. Choosing the right music for a video game or movie is not an easy task, and to successfully select the music theme for a project you need an expert’s advice.

Arcella Sound can help take your project to the next level. As an experienced company dedicated to the production of music for film and video games, we have the resources and the proper tools to discover the perfect sound for your piece.

Because we’re solely focused on that niche, we’re able to dedicate all of our attention to the soundtrack planning process and its creative aspect at a rapid speed, so you only need to provide feedback so we can continue refining our work.

If you’d like to know more about what we do and how we can help, send us an email to or book a discovery call.


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