The genre shares many commonalities with film music, another successor of program music. Brian Eno's "Music for Films", for example, even addresses these similarities in its title. His cinematic soundscapes, however, don’t accompany an actual film, but evoke visual imagery in his listeners’ heads and let them use their imagination to create their own cinematic experiences.
Because of this importance of the listener’s imagination, cinematic songs can deal with various subject matters. The power and majestic beauty of nature, however, is a recurring element of the genre which is present in many of its most popular musical representatives. The Icelandic quartet Sigur Rós constantly evokes imagery of the untouched beauty of their homeland, just like American post-rockers Explosions In The Sky or the Canadian band Set Fire to Flames. These examples of distinctly different sounding artists illustrate the diverse nature of cinematic music.
Cinematic songs are often described as “epic”, meaning that they are large in scope, possess a very dynamic range and often lead up to a triumphant climax. Certainly true for many representatives of the genre, cinematic music can be quiet, minimal and introverted and therefore quite the opposite of epic, as well.