I found out the other day that the score to Joker was recorded before they filmed. I’m given to understand this is unusual in film making. When talking about worldbuilding I’m not certain soundtracks counts if we’re going to get picky about definitions and boundaries and Seth and I love definitions and boundaries. But! on the off chance that it does I want to write about so please indulge me.
This will be the third time I’m writing about this movie, once to talk about some initial reflections on the world that surrounded the Joker. Another to talk about how the world itself might be in Joker’s mind and now this to talk about the soundtrack. This is the last one, I promise.
I’ll say one thing for it: it’s moving. Haunting discordant crescendos fill you with a sense of dread. But the returning themes in the soundtrack speak of transgressive beauty, the sense that while all that you know to be right is folding around you you are still alive. As Arthur Fleck says in one scene, ‘I didn’t know if I was even exist… but I do.’ The irony of that line could be that this version of Joker may not exist at all except to serve as the lead up to the punchline Joker wants to tell.
As Jack Black showed us in The Holiday, musical scores can change the way we view movies. It only takes take 2 notes for us to know that Jaws is approaching from the deep or screeching strings to let us know the psycho is behind the shower curtain. Maybe this is a Worldbuilding topic after all. The worlds we make set the tone for our narratives to occupy and what resonates better with the human soul than music?
A final brief note: Hildur Guðnadóttir, who put this soundtrack together has my deepest admiration. Here’s her stuff.
Stay tuned for more writing from the WorldCraft Club as we explore worldbuilding and the crafting of fictional settings to inspire your creativity.
We’re happy to host guest blogs on here whenever we can, it gives James a break and let’s other people contribute their ideas. Let us know if you have a worldbuilding concept or strategy to get off your chest, we’d love to hear it.