[Smt-talk] theory of film music

Leinberger, Charles F. charlesl at utep.edu
Thu Jul 3 08:45:34 PDT 2014


Excellent observation.  Film musicology has much more in common with history and literature than it does with music theory.  We spend a great deal of time discussing events (technological, cultural, economic, political) leading up to the creation of a film score, and the subsequent influence of that score on other film composers, but little time if any on the score itself.  Rarely does this involve an analytical approach like what we do in theory.  As you accurately suggest, this has much to do with the lack of published or even archived film scores.  Also, every composer's music presents a different set of logistics.  Some are in archives, like the Warner Bros. Archive at USC.  Mary are not.


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Charles Francis Leinberger, Ph.D., Associate Professor.
 Department of Music, The University of Texas at El Paso.
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-----Original Message-----
From: Smt-talk [mailto:smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of kos at panix.com
Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2014 10:06 PM
To: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Subject: [Smt-talk] theory of film music

Hey folks,

I know lots of you are interested in "film music" although it almost never is written about on SMT-TALK.

My recent perusal of the book "Music and Levels of Narration in Film: Steps Across the Border" by Guido Heldt (Chicago: Intellect, 2013) reminded me of one of my ongoing questions concerning film music studies, in that a noticeably large group of writers take their cue from film studies and use narrativity as the basis for understanding film music.

While understanding narrative is essential to understanding how music operates in a film, I'm often disappointed in that I see no further dissection of the music.  My own bias is empiricism:  I feel that--in general--the internal evidence of the music can offer more insight into understanding music.  I see this *rarely* discussed in film music - and when it is written about, it's usually in the context of how to write music for films.  (I often imagine that, because it's so difficult to get a film score, people have derived analytical modes that consider the written score irrelevant.)

I see the above is purely musicological.  Beyond the narrativity movement, can anyone point to writings that attempt to deal with film music as part of music theory?

Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
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