One of the best death scenes I remember seeing is the entire Buffy: The Vampire Slayer episode “The Body”. (Joss Whedon is extremely good at doing meaningful death in general). Throughout the episode the camera frequently lingers off-center, missing part of the main action in a good representation of shocked tunnel-vision. The camera often isn’t stabilized. There are long silences, and there is basically no soundtrack. This is all works very well to make the viewer feel dissociation and discomfort. The final fight scene in the episode, without the danger music in the background we’re accustomed to, was very disorienting. I wanted to do something like.
I don’t really think I got it. The music was put in to contrast with the silence that followed it, but that doesn’t really work when you haven’t established a tradition of background music. The silence did not break the listener’s expectations, because a single episode isn’t long enough to build that subconscious level of expectation. I almost stripped out the music when I listened and realized that. But… well… the music really did go pretty well with the action on stage. It didn’t do what I wanted, but it still made it better. So it stayed in. After Hermione’s death I got rid of nearly all the sound FX, including the page-flips that normally denote a page break. I also cut most of the outro, and the exit music. I don’t think it was quite enough, but it was something.
Of course all the emotional impact actually comes from Eliezer’s excellent writing of her death. At most I can try to make the audio environment match that a little bit. I hope I didn’t detract from the scene.