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Music and the Movies

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Maribeth Crawford

on 23 January 2015

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Transcript of Music and the Movies

100 years of film music
Music and the Movies
The Silent Film Era
Eclectic Styles
1989- 2013

The Birth of an Art Form (1895-1907)
The Market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression

Technical issues
The Sound Era Begins
The Decline of the Hollywood Studio
Films began to follow certain European trends
A New American Cinema


Historical Dramas and Realism

The Classic Revival
Exploring Film and

Wagner's Prelude
Drama and Film
Elements of music
Listening to Film Music
"The idea originated with Richard Wagner. Listen to the incidental scoring behind the recitatives in his operas. If Wagner had lived in this century, he would have been the number one film composer"
-Max Steiner

"total artwork"
Basic types of art:
* Visual- occupy space

* Temporal- occupy time
Wagner as Auteur
an artist whose style and practice is distinctive
How he did this:
* Wrote libretto
* Directed staging and acting
* Dictated scenery, costumes, and lighting
* Composed the music
* Built theater
Wagner and the Music Drama
Role of the orchestra:
* Establishes dramatic mood
* Musical unity
* Continuous flow
* Leitmotifs
Elements of Drama:
1. Plot
2. Character
3. Setting
4. Theme
5. Mood
* How the story is structured
* Original or pre-existing
* Causal plot vs. Episodic plot
* Linear vs. Nonlinear
Protagonist vs. Antagonist
Location and time frame
Central idea underlying a given story
The emotional quality of a drama
Elements of Film
* Film Genres
* Cinematography
* Point of View
* Film Editing
Film Genres
Categories based on similar stories and other conventions
* preproduction, production, postproduction

* act of taking moving pictures

* many elements to consider
Point of View
Omniscient POV
Subjective POV
Film Editing



Music Notation














Vocal music

Symphonic Instruments

Popular Music

Electronic Music

Historical Instruments

Folk and Ethnic Instruments
The appearance or disappearance of music at a precise moment
Opening and Closing Frames
Overture and entr'acte
Music within the Narrative
Source Music/ diegetic music
underscoring/ non-diegetic

compilation score
adapted score
Musical Styles
Modern Music


Function of Film music

Supporting Plot

Establishing Character

Musical Unity
Running Counter to the scene
Supporting the Plot
Mickey Mousing
Establishing Character, setting Point of View and Theme

Musical Unity


Thematic transformation
Eadweard Muybridge
* Leading photographer of the American West

* photos of a horse in motion
* Edison's Kinetophone and Kinetoscope

* Public showings of film and live music
The Kinetoscope
A peephole viewer for a single person to view moving pictures without sound. Invented by Thomas Edison
The Kinetophone
Kinetoscopes with phonographs inside the cabinet. For a single viewer to watch moving images while listening to sound through earphones.

Thomas Edison, 1895

Music was usually popular dance tunes
The Lumieres and Max Skladanowsky
December 1895, the Lumiere brothers showed a series of films to an audience

November 1895, projected film for paying public

Lumiere showing- "Birth of Cinema"
George Melies
Magician that built a studio and began making his own motion pictures

elaborate sets, costumes, and use of beautiful women- suited to a magic show

A Trip to the Moon, 1902
Edwin Porter
The Great Train Robbery (1903), First major American Narrative Film

Recreates an historical event
Musical Accompaniment

Placement of Music

Types of Music
The Foundations of Modern Film, 1908-1919
Commercial viability

Featured Films

Movie "stars"

US is center for film
D. W. Griffith
Most important figure in American Film

First true Auteur of film

The Birth of a Nation

United Artists Corporation
Developments in Film Music
Music Accompaniment

Compilation Scores

Cue Sheets and Anthologies
Original Musical Scores
Joseph Carl Breil- The Birth of a Nation
The Birth of a Nation
Directed by D. W. Griffith

original music score by
Joseph Carl Breil
The Narrative
12 reel Epic Film

Two parts:
1. Historical accuracy of the Civil war

2. The Clansman by Reverend Thomas Dixon
The Music
Griffith and Breil worked together to create a three-hour musical score

involves all categories of music for silent film



original music
The Transition to Sound, 1926- 1928
The 1920's served as films first "Golden Age"

1926- films with recorded music and sound effects

The Vitaphone

1927- Al Jolson and The Jazz Singer

Two types:

revue or vaudeville

dramatic works with Musical numbers

42nd Street
Early Sound Cartoons
Steamboat Willie

Skeleton Dance
King Kong, 1933
Max Steiner saves the day!

Placement of Music

Timbre of Orchestra


Scene: Abduction and Sacrifice
Entering a New Golden Age, 1934-1938
Elements of the Classical Film Score:

Extensive use of music

orchestral colors

Highlighted Melody

Principal themes and moods in opening credits

Music enhanced/was influenced by mood, setting, characters, and action

leitmotifs and thematic transformation
The Bride of Frankenstein
adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818)

Musical Score by Franz Waxman
Do you think that "King Kong" would have been successful if Steiner had not written the score for full orchestra? Why or why not? When forming your answer, give examples of scenes we viewed in class to support your answer.

Does Steiner's score cause more sympathy for the character of King Kong? explain why or why not

Why do you think The Bride of Frankenstein serves as representation of The Classical film score? explain

In which scenes that we viewed today of Frankenstein to you believe most significantly linked drama with music?
Modern Voices, 1936-1944
Modern Styles of Contemporary Concert Composers

Forerunners of Film Noir
Citizen Kane
"American's greatest film"

Starred and directed by Orson Welles

Film Score by Bernard Herrmann

Striking film elements

Music- modern and elements of Film Noir scoring
Questions for discussion
How is music used differently for "Citizen Kane," "King Kong" and "The Bride of Frankenstein"? How is it similar?

Which movie did you feel was the most effective in linking drama with music? why? Which scenes contribute to your opinion?

In "Citizen Kane," how did the cinematography contribute to the plot and mood? Which scenes?
Considered America's second greatest film by The American Film Institute

Historical Context

Music by Max Steiner
High Noon
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin

The Ballad "Do Not Forsake Me," sung by Tex Ritter

Clock Theme
On the Waterfront
Music by Leonard Bernstein

Modern Musical Style
Directed by William Wyler

Music by Miklos Rozsa

Principal Characters:

Judah Ben-Hur, A Jewish Prince
Messala, Ben-Hur's childhood friend
Esther, Ben-Hur's love interest
Miriam, Ben-Hur's mother
Tirzah, Ben-Hur's sister
Changing Industry

Film Noir

Popular Music

American Nationalism

Religious subjects for films
Questions to consider:
How did Rozsa use the non-diegetic and diegetic music to contribute to the plot, setting, characterization and mood in Ben-Hur? give examples of a couple of scenes

What was the musical style or styles of this film score?

What are some of the elements that contribute to the genre (epic) of this film? Does the music add to this quality? If so, how?
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Creative cinematography

Exploitation of sex and violence

Black and White
Psycho's music
String orchestra- Homogenious texture

Extreme dissonance

repetition within musical cues

Use of Musical themes

Importance of shower scene music to plot
John Williams
considered film's most prolific film score composer

Throwback to the Classical film score style, similar to Steiner

Evokes the golden age of movie going
Famous John Williams film scores

Star Wars

Home Alone

Indiana Jones


Jurassic Park

Harry Potter (first three)
Star Wars (1977)
Utilizes the leitmotif school of film composition

use of symphony orchestra

wall-to-wall musical scoring

supports the drama

Important themes/leitmotifs used:

1. Luke Skywalker (star wars theme)
2. Darth Vader
3. Yoda
4. Love theme (Princess Leia and Han Solo)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Combines elements of fantasy/adventure and children's genre

Number four of all-time box-office successes

Double Plot

Famous Crosscutting scene
high point for the revival of the classical film score

Williams unifies score through mood and themes

Main- E.T. theme (thematic transformation)

Keys Theme

Subsidiary Themes:
Alien theme

Bicycle theme
E. T. Continued
Contemporary problems

absence of underscoring during family dialogue

No adult face is shown until Agent Keys

Elliot and E.T. are considered parallel characters
John Williams questions
1. Do you believe that Williams's score contributed to the overall success of STAR WARS? Why or why not?

2. In the film E. T. , how does Wiliams's score reflect the inner complications of the characters of Elliot and E.T.?

3. In addition to STAR WARS and E.T., what other film do you believe contributes to Williams's reputation as being "Hollywood's premier composer"?
Alan Menken (b. 1949)
Musical Theatre Songwriter

Won Eight Oscars for his Disney animation scores

His credits include:

The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Songwriting method
Goal was to return to the style of Disney animated
films from the 40s and 50s

He does not write for kids, but rather himself

Tries to create a fantasy world for Disney animated films

typically does not orchestrate or conduct his work

writes piano/vocal scores for his song demos
Beauty and the Beast (1991)
plot originated from a French Fairy tale

mix of serious adult themes with childlike fantasy world that is standard to Disney animation

won Oscars for "Best Original Score" and "Best Original Song"

music reflects local

underscoring establishes many moods

use of musical themes and thematic transformation
Randy Newman
began career as a songwriter

known for his animated film scores

Won an Oscar for the song "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc.

Important films: A Bug's Life, Monsters, Inc. , Cars, The Princess and the Frog, Toy Story 3

New Orleans style (Jazz and Ragtime)
The Princess and the Frog
Randy Newman and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band performed the opening number "Down in New Orleans"

Features New Orleans singer Dr. John

mixture of jazz, blues, and gospel styles to emphasis local
genre lost its appeal in the 80s, but returned by the 90s

Batman, Jurassic Park, Star War prequels, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings
Danny Elfman
no formal musical training

director Tim Burton was a fan of his rock group, which began partnership

important scores: Pee-Wee's Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
Batman, 1989
Dark score

low-pitched instruments

full orchestra

brass and percussion dominate

Famous Batman theme
Harry Potter
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