[Smt-talk] theory of film music

kos at panix.com kos at panix.com
Fri Jul 4 12:52:51 PDT 2014

On Fri, 4 Jul 2014, Deborah Burton <burtond at bu.edu> wrote:

> Just a quick observation that film music developed from opera (especially 
> Wagnerian and post-Wagnerian types) and that any in-depth analysis of it 
> should recognize this aspect.  (Vertigo is so Tristan-esque it is practically 
> plagiarism.)

Hi Deborah,

I beg to disagree.  Film music developed out of music that accompanied staged 
drama.  Film dramas were just an extension of that and thus used the same 
procedures.  I've just finished reading a new book which underscores this 
point: Michael V. Pisani's "Music for the Melodramatic Theatre in 
Nineteenth-Century London and New York."  I think anyone who has worked with 
the scores of silent film music will find it difficult not to see the intimate 
connection between silent film and drama.

Of course any composer can be influenced by opera--or any other musical form. 
But I feel that whatever influences one recognizes in film music (shades of 
Tristan in Vertigo -- and even more so in Psycho), it is fundamentally based on 
an extension of staged drama, not opera.

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
   Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-TALK ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
--- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list