A study of music in sound cinema from the 1920s to the present. The course focuses on the expressive, formal, and semiotic function that film music serves, either as sound experienced by the characters, as another layer of commentary to be heard only by the viewer, and/or some mixture of the two. Composers to be studied include Max Steiner, Bernard Hermann, Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, Danny Elfman, and others, as well as film scores that rely upon a range of musical styles, including classical, popular, and non-Western.
The singularly most important goal of the course will be to study how music functions in a given film, regardless of its musical style. In the process, ancillary ideas will emerge including discovering how music establishes psychological moods, guides emotions, and reveals aspects of the narrative structure of the film. By the end of the course, the student will have gained a greater understanding of both music and film and it is likely that students will never watch or listen another movie in quite the same way.