Film, Music, Culture
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Level: Undergraduate, Graduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: School of Media Studies
Department: Media Studies
Course Number: NMDS 5204
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Film & Video History, Theory & Criticism
  • Sound
  • Media Studies
The course will examine the entire phenomenon of film music and the technical, artistic, aesthetic, psychological, and political problems it poses. As an ongoing process, we will track the evolution of film music and how its metamorphoses run parallel to and diverge from those in the art and commerce of the cinema. For the classical film score, we will examine essential differences between film and concert music. Scores will be studied in the light of how the composer has solved both the musical and dramatic problems at hand, and we will discuss the ways in which varying musical styles, from romantic to avant garde, have been deployed in the cinematic context. In many instances, the musical score opens doors onto deeper readings of the filmic text, and we will explore some of the ways in which this occurs. The movement of film music into non-classical areas, in particular pop and jazz, will also be examined, as will the recent shift towards electronics (synthesizers, sampling, etc.) and new tendencies in film/music interactions, such as the breakdown of the distinction between source (diegetic) and nondiegetic music. We will also examine film music not just in its relation to narrative but as a form of narrative (see Tarasti et al.). Numerous examples from films and scores will be presented in class. Video copies of complete films, including documentaries on composers such as Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Toru Takemitsu, and Georges Delerue, will be available for viewing.
Course Open to: Degree Students