Text vs Music vs Film

This year, I’ve read more than I have in the past ten years combined. I have probably watched more movies and listened to more music this year as well. I feel that I’ve thought about different modes of communication in a very critical, comparative sense this semester, so here I’m going to not do that. All three forms (text, music, video) of communication/entertainment have unique features, so I cannot hold one as superior to the others.

My favorite aspect of text is its immersive capability. Whenever I’m reading an intense, action-packed point in a book, I am utterly engrossed, and completely dismissive of my immediate surroundings. Whenever I read an interesting philosophy text, I turn the ideas over and over in my head, and often think about the concepts into the next day. I also never can get quite the same sense of character from film or music that I can from text.

Music is without equal when it comes to conveying emotion, in my opinion. If I just want to relax and unwind, I put on some Grateful Dead and kick back. Sometimes I use music to help me get to class faster, by listening to some faster-paced music like ACDC. Typically when I think about communication, I’m thinking about words and information, not about emotions or attitudes. Granted, the lyrical element of music can easily contain that sort of factual information (like Schoolhouse Rock), but the vast majority of music people listen to for leisure does not preach the function of conjunctions.

I have always appreciated film as the combination of textual, musical, and visual elements, but just because text and music are present does not distract from the fact that film in a visual medium. In this way, I like to think of film in its “motion picture” sense, as a sort of animated illustration of a story. Video provides an overwhelming amount of description in the form of visuals, musical cues, and character dialogue, leaving little to no information left for the audience to fill in. In this way, a viewer is involved in film much less than a reader or listener is in text or music. While this could be considered a weakness of the medium, it is also one of my favorite features – I watch plenty of brainless movies purely for their shallow entertainment value. Not every film can, or should, be Academy Award Winners!

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