WHOSE PERSPECTIVE ARE YOU SCORING FROM?
Music tells the audience what to feel, but it can also tell them WHO or WHAT to feel for, depending on the emotional point of view that you score from.
For example, maybe there is a scene between a husband and a wife arguing. There are many different emotional points of view in this scenario that the music can follow.
The music could follow the emotional feelings of the mom in the scene, who is devastated and sorrowful from the beginning of the conversation.
The music could follow the dad's feelings, who maybe starts the conversation off feeling more indifferent but grows in passion as the argument progresses.
This scene could be scored from the perspective of the small child in the other room, who is confused and scared the whole time.
Or the music could blanket the entire scene in "sad" music, to communicate a the broad notion to the audience that this family in a sad state of affairs, without encouraging you to feel for in person in particular at that moment.
What emotional point of view you choose to follow affects the audience's emotional perspective of the scene, and bonds the listener with the character whose POV the music follows.
Inner POV (The music follows a specific character's feeling)
This approach is more personal, and is like "zooming in" emotionally to get inside the head and heart of a specific person, not just to feel ABOUT them or FOR them, but to feel WITH them--true EMPATHY. Spielberg and Williams use this approach often in their films. In the Film "The Terminal", we do not hear any music until about 12-15 minutes into the film, when our protagonist, Viktor Navorski, feels a significant emotion for the first time.
Outer POV (the music covers the general feeling of the scene more broadly, without focusing on the emotions of specific people)
This approach is less personal but better for getting emotional perspective--consider the two different approaches like "zooming in" or "zooming out" emotionally.
In the mountain crossing hero-shot from the Fellowship of the Ring (you know, the one where the group has just departed from Rivendell and we hear the "fellowship" theme in all it's glory as the camera swings around our heroes in slow motion against the 360 degree back drop of gorgeous New Zealand mountains), the music is not crafted to follow the feelings of any particular characters POV, but takes what you might call an outside, or transcendent POV. It covers the scene in a mood, like a blanket (It's almost like a music video, in fact. There is not dialog or even location sound).
This approach is more impersonal, and does not lead me to care about or feel for any of the individual characters more, but it does remind me that there is a broader purpose of the fellowship that transcends individual people. And I care about that purpose more as a result.
This "Outer POV" approach and is very appropriate for a film like LOTR (where it's used often), which is all about ideals and stakes that are bigger than any of the individuals in the film. An inner POV approach is also used in those film at times where we are intended to connect with specific character more deeply.
You do not need to use only one approach. In a film, you may find that in some scenes you need to "zoom out" emotionally to emphasize the broader emotional point of the story, and for some scenes you many "zoom in" emotionally and feel alongside a character the audience is supposed to connect with.
LIKE ALWAYS, TALK WITH THE DIRECTOR ABOUT WHICH EMOTIONAL PERSPECTIVES TO FOLLOW IN A GIVEN SCENE.
ASSIGNMENT: Next time you watch a film, try to conscientiously note which emotional POV that the music is following and emphasizing.