What a Difference a Soundtrack Makes

If you have ever doubted the ability of music to set the mood in a film, take a look at this opening to the comedy “Diff’rent Strokes” with a decidedly different soundtrack.

Author: Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is the Esther Ting Memorial Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford University and an Honorary Professor of Psychiatry at Kings College London. His research, teaching and writing have focused on addictive disorders, self-help organizations (e.g., breast cancer support groups, Alcoholics Anonymous), evaluation research methods, and public policy related to health care, mental illness, veterans, drugs, crime and correctional systems. Professor Humphreys' over 300 scholarly articles, monographs and books have been cited over thirteen thousand times by scientific colleagues. He is a regular contributor to Washington Post and has also written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Monthly, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (UK), The Telegraph (UK), Times Higher Education (UK), Crossbow (UK) and other media outlets.

14 thoughts on “What a Difference a Soundtrack Makes”

  1. You bet – a great demonstration! We are just looking for the brief snippet where the old man offers some candy to the kids to get them to get into his car with them. And I haven’t even seen the original. (I suppose the opposite effect could be produced for the opening of, say, Rosemary’s Baby …)

  2. It’s an eternal shame and disgrace to our copyright laws that you can no longer see the clip of Garden State where the soundtrack has been replaced with Nelly’s “Tip Drill.” It was a clear-cut fair use for parody, but that’s not enough to keep it available.

  3. The spooky music changes the whole mood of the piece. According to the creator of the mashup, it’s from the soundtrack of “The Dorm that Dripped Blood.”

    By the way, the series’ title was “Diff’rent Strokes,” with an apostrophe. You missed the opportunity for some wordplay: you could have titled your post “What a Diff’rence a Soundtrack Makes.”

    1. D’oh, I hate missing chances for word play — well done. But I will at least spell the show correctly in the post – thanks.

  4. Remember “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”? It was one of the first wildlife documentary series, cheaply produced but pretty respectful of reality in the wild. They ratted themselves out once, in an interesting way. They did a segment on background music. First they showed ten seconds of wolf cubs tumbling about, backed up by some happy, bouncy music: the cubs were obviously playing and having more fun than one species should have. Then they showed the same footage backed with tense, dissonant, spy-chase type of music — and it was equally obvious that the cubs were seriously fighting, trying to hurt or even kill each other. That’s all there was to it, plus a little homily about not believing everything you saw.

    Now someone needs to back Jersey Shore with some Leoncavallo or Janacek.

  5. That was disturbing. Clearly those 2 hoodlums, probably on drugs or something, are about to assault that sweet old man.

    1. ^That’s me, goofing on Zimmerman…just in case anyone was wondering. After all, he’s been known to say things on the Internet that don’t exactly help him.

  6. Anytime there is a mismatch in character, or any exaggeration in ascribing motives to an individual that are not intended, these are all forms of slander. And yes, music is powerful to control our emotional responses and direction in one’s life. Look at all the canned laughter and cheers on television; the constant mood music in movies with sound effect “hooks,” or the closing of a preacher’s sermon with soft background music, drawing through the base emotions and not the intellect bridged to the heart. It’s all artificial! You can even take a violent scene in a movie, and with the right music turn it into a “touching moment.” This is how music can slander truth and morality. And most importantly, our integrity to conscience can be crippled temporarily, or even for life based on this abuse of music alone.

Comments are closed.