Whiplash is a modern classic. On the surface, it's a film about jazz, about music, and about blood on the drum kits at high-pressure arts schools. But in reality, it's a film about potential and the ultimate realisation of talent.

Writing about Whiplash is difficult as the music represents a multitude of themes. The diegetic music is all at once an indicator of success; a representation of the character's talent; a foreshadowing heartbeat of the main character's relationships and, quite simply, the viewer's soundtrack to the film.

It's a film directed and scored by a pair of university mates who were both novices in their craft. Damien Chazelle's script was one of Hollywood's most appreciated unmade scripts that continued to go unmade (as "nobody wanted to make a film about a jazz musician") until Chazelle made it into a 2013 short film featuring J.K. Simmons, who would later reprise his role in the feature length film. His college roommate Justin Hurwitz had no previous experience in scoring feature length movies but this didn't stop him making his big screen debut with impeccable style.

Henry Barnes of The Guardian called Whiplash a rare film "about music that professes its love for the music and its characters equally." Despite being a fantastic character study of master and apprentice, soundtracked by some magnificent music, jazz aficionados moan at length about how the film doesn't depict 'real jazz'. The New Yorker's Richard Brody said: "The movie's very idea of jazz is a grotesque and ludicrous caricature," with the editor of Jazzwise magazine adding: "It is a warped, retrogressive portrayal of jazz and big band cutting sessions."

These criticisms are an irrelevant point - jazz fans will know 'real jazz' isn't what is pictured on screen in the same way that The Wolf of Wall Street doesn't show the day-to-day work of investment bankers. If you're not a jazz fan (like me) then Whiplash is a gateway into a world of music you'd never tried before. And hey, I might now like the music of Buddy Rich thanks to Whiplash but jazz critics like Richard Brody will still moan because I've not delved into the annals of jazz history. You can't please all of the people all of the time - which is ironically one of the messages in Whiplash.

The song 'Whiplash' was chosen for the film by the director Damien Chazelle as it's one of the pieces he himself played as a jazz drummer at Princeton High School. A short, complex and impactful track which employs all sections of an orchestra with each receiving focus - from the punchy brass blares of the intro to the background strums of the guitar. The drums on this track seem to be being played by an octopus but Miles Teller actually learned all of the drumming parts for the film himself having played the drums as a youngster. Although a visual double was used for the close ups, all of his character's drumming was performed by Teller and on top of this, around 40% of his drumming was used in the official soundtrack.

J.K. Simmons actually had his own musical background too. His mother was a middle-school music teacher, and his father was director of the music department at the University of Montana, where J.K. himself earned a music degree. Despite his musical chops, the only time we see the terrifying master play any music is in the bar scene after he's been fired from his teaching job. As Andrew enters the bar, Fletcher sits at a piano playing a tender, slow song by candlelight. A stark contrast to the harsh lights and boot camp atmosphere of Andrew's relentless practicing.

The film's composer Justin Hurwitz uses his melody from 'Fletcher's Theme' throughout the droning underscore to reinforce Fletcher's dominant influence as a motif. The droning mix of the slowed-down brass and wind instruments, Fletcher's motif, and the skittish drums was described by Hurwitz as the "sum of all the jazz swirling around in Andrew's head" and remind the audience of the buzz and sensory disorientation of leaving a music show.

'Caravan' arrives in its entirety at the film's emotional climax. The pieces 'Whiplash' and 'Caravan' are the only songs Andrew is shown playing to perfection, with the latter the crowning glory of his realised potential. Incredibly challenging, with changing time signatures and a gear-cranking drum solo, 'Caravan' is a technical nightmare or masterpiece depending on which side you look at it from. It's a reflection of all music, how on the outside jazz might appear loose and free; how shoegaze music might appear chaotic; how ambient music might appear directionless, but in reality, all of this is the result of hours of practice, repetition and mastery of potential that is ultimately realised in a public space to an audience who know nothing of the blood on the drum kit.