I never really used to pay attention to music that played in the background of movies and television. It was just there, you know?
Little lambs gambolling in a paddock to happy accompanying music? Who cared? The murderer tippy-toeing up the back stairs to the heroine's bedroom, with creepy music making its way up there with him? I didn't give a fig. A menacing shark bearing down on a boat? Well, okay, the music for "Jaws" is iconic; it works.
And as for those documentaries where background music accompanies the likes of Griff Rhys-Jones as he hikes Britain, or Charley Boorman biking around the world? Nope, nada, I didn't even think about the themes, I was too busy watching the programmes.
There was one time.... A few years ago, I was driving from KeriKeri, at the top of the North Island to Waitangi.
I was listening to a cassette of television theme tunes. I got to the theme for the British television drama series "Reilly, Ace of Spies". It starred New Zealand's very own Sam Neill.
And suddenly I noticed that the music was matching the scenery that I was passing. I drove up a hill and the music swelled higher ... and higher until it hit a crescendo as I reached the top. I cruised down the hill, and the music lowered. When I turned a corner, the music got excited. On a straight road, the music levelled out. A fresh vista suddenly appeared and the music amped up a notch. Craggy rocks, rolling hills, a bird lazily flyng overhead ... I'm telling you that tune, written by Shostakovich, seamlessly matched all the scenery I was passing.
I now try to make a point of registering the background music I hear on my television. Those composers sure work hard.