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Big orchestral scores have become standard fare for directors looking to convey emotion or advance a storyline. This year, “Birdman” and “Whiplash” used percussion to accomplish those goals.

“It’s not only a slick trick, the drum tracks were used to move the film,” says reports “Birdman” re-recording mixer Jon Taylor. Director Alejandro G. Inarritu “used them for movement, to take the audience down a hallway, down the stairs, into a bar.

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“He also used (the drum tracks) in moments to signify that time is ticking away and to show that Riggan (the protagonist played by Michael Keaton) was going out of his mind. The drums are a narration.”

“Whiplash” re-recording mixer Craig Mann points out that drum performances were used to tell the story and bring attention to the emotional war between eager student Andrew and abusive teacher Fletcher.

That’s most obvious, Mann says, in the scene where three student drummers attempt — without success — to find Fletcher’s rhythm.

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“The way that scene builds, the score and that particular cue is pretty intense,” he says. “That, for me, is the peak and one of the most exciting parts of the film.”