Context Creates The CrescendoMarch 12, 2023
I love listening to the soundtracks of epic movies. Rich orchestral scores full of complexity, nuance and power are truly magnificent. Hans Zimmer and James Horner are two of my favorite film score composers.
A full-length film may last two hours, but there are usually a few signature theme songs that reverberate at the most epic moments. And that's the tune everyone remembers and continues humming for days. But those dramatic moments don't materialize out of nowhere.
If you listen to the soundtrack all the way through, you'll notice that the theme starts very early. It might be soft and subtle, just a few chords here, a few chords there. At first it's just a hint of the main tune, then bit by bit it gathers depth and richness. The theme builds slowly and gradually over the course of the film, so that when the climax arrives, the viewer is ready and primed.
The composer is creating a context. They're preparing the viewer for what to expect. They're priming the listener for certain sounds and tunes, so the big moment is not a surprise; it's a welcome peak experience.
Even if you're not a music composer, you are still a communicator and you still have an audience. Every time you communicate with another person, the context you set is a huge factor in how your message lands:
- When the situations calls for being stern, a parent might start with "Look we need to talk about this, and first, I love you". Their intent is not to soften the blow, or balance out the harsh with something positive. They are simply setting a context that says "my love for you is not at risk here, no matter what you did"
- A manager might preface a large request by outlining the goals and objectives. "Because we've committed to hitting our ship-date for this product, I'm going to ask you to do something very challenging"
- An individual who wants to express sincere gratitude to a friend might start by creating the proper space: "Hey, can I talk with you for a few minutes? I have something important on my heart, and I'd really like to share it with you"
Pay attention to the context you set. And you'll create the space for dramatic moments of connection.