Here’s a question: What music comes to mind when I say “telekinesis”? It’s a bit of an odd question but say, for instance, that a composer had to make music all based off the idea of one vague idea: individuals with psychic powers. What would he or she do? What musical instrument or theme would fit that fantastic element? The concept may seem a little abstract, but sometimes, that’s all a composer initially gets to base a soundtrack on. Composers aren’t usually given a complete version of the material to work with (although composition is traditionally done much later in the creation process so they might have some visuals), so a lot of composition may come down to just a feeling or an idea that they get.
Yoko Kanno, for instance, is famous for taking something so vague as “being human” and making an entire body of work based off of it. On the western side, when Christopher Nolan was creating Interstellar, he initially gave the film’s composer, Hans Zimmer, the concept of “a father and son” (later changed to a daughter), without telling Zimmer anything else about the film. This was specifically to get to the heart of what Nolan felt the film should be about. Vagueness, in this way, allowed for a lot of creative freedom, but at the same time, as many artists can tell you, too much freedom can be oppressive, leaving them to not even know where to begin. However, because the initial idea may be so vague, the same concept done by different composers can lead to amazingly diverse music, which brings me back to the music of psychic powers.