In a recent New Yorker article, Sasha Frere-Jones reported that “musicians love to use the word ‘cinematic’ when describing their music.”

Made me stop and think.  I’ve known thousands of musicians in my life, and I don’t recall a single one of them using the word “cinematic” to describe their work.  I can imagine a few of them using that word, possibly, in certain circumstances, but I’ve known far more who would be uncomfortable with the term, and even a few who would find it offensive.

There’s no question in my mind that Mr. Frere-Jones has heard “cinematic” used by musicians with great frequency, or he wouldn’t have made such a claim.  It’s even possible he sent out a questionnaire to thousands of musicians asking them if they loved to use the word “cinematic” when describing their music, and got a unanimous response.

Well, come to think about it, probably not.

In any case, it’s yet another reminder of how enormous our little world is, how many conflicting viewpoints are held by people that outsiders might assume are all in agreement.

I’ve heard a few people use the word “cinematic” to describe my work, and it always leaves me more puzzled than enlightened — though not offended.  My music sounds like music to me, not like a movie with the characters, plot, settings and dialogue stripped away.  I suppose maybe there is something in the term “cinematic” I just don’t understand.

But at least I’m fairly certain I’m not alone.

Leave a Reply