[Smt-talk] theory of film music

Burton, Deborah burtond at bu.edu
Sat Jul 5 21:05:36 PDT 2014

Interesting points, but then we should consider the filmic Leitmotives (directly from Wagner), the fact that the first film composers had been opera composers and Edison's love for opera was one of his motivations for developing the moving picture.  (He produced a full-length film version of "Martha" that came with a recording.)

Deborah Burton
Boston University
burtond at bu.edu
From: kos at panix.com [kos at panix.com]
Sent: Friday, July 04, 2014 3:52 PM
To: Burton, Deborah
Cc: smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Subject: RE: [Smt-talk] theory of film music

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 ---

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