The expressive and narrative power of music has been joined with dramatic theatrical forms for centuries (Japanese Noh theatre, European opera), and has been intimately linked with filmmaking from the beginning of that medium's development in the early 20th century.
This course will examine the central role music plays in the interdisciplinary medium of filmmaking, ranging from the live musical accompaniment of silent films, to the epic modern action scores of Hans Zimmer. Through analysis of various films, their music, and the unified artwork they create, we will attempt to better understand how music is used as a powerful expressive tool in filmmaking.
Topics will include: -A historical overview of the evolution of film music over the 20th and 21st centuries. -Analysis of specific compositional techniques, to better understand the link between music and dramatic expression: How do film composers create tension, release, sorrow, ecstasy with music? How do composers use leitmotif to link musical themes to specific characters? How do composers use orchestration techniques and timbre to amplify the emotional or narrative context of a film? -Examination of concepts and terminology associated with film scoring, such as: spotting, cues, free timing vs. click track, diegetic vs. non-diegetic music, composing under dialogue, dead hits. -Place film scores into a larger musical-historical context, for example: -Note how the 19th century Romantic orchestral tradition has served as the model for traditional film scoring, from Max Steiner's Gone With the Wind, to John Williams' Star Wars. -Note the use of avant-garde and experimental musical styles in films such as Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (the music of experimental Hungarian composer Gyorgy Ligeti) -Examine the use of pre-existing pop songs in films, as a way to tap the cultural and historical zeitgeist (Oliver Stone's soundtrack to Platoon); or to utilize the cultural capital of certain songs and artists (the coveted and expensive licensing of a Beatles song).
-An examination of film music outside the American tradition; notably Indian Bollywood film and music and the Italian Western. Text: Mervyn Cooke- A History of Film Music (Cambridge University Press)
Requirements/Evaluation: Film viewings will occur both in and out of class. As well, students will be expected to listen outside of class to examples of film music (for in-class analysis and discussion). -Students will also complete readings from various sources pertaining to specific films, film scoring techniques and film composers.
-A final project will include scoring some short film scenes. (Students can either write music or use pre-existing music; no musical experience is required.)
-This course is for anyone with an interest in better understanding how films and film music work, and can also serve as a foundation for those interested in pursuing film scoring.