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MUAR 211 Lecture Notes - Max Steiner, Art Music, Tan Dun

Music-Arts Faculty
Course Code
MUAR 211
Jerry M.Cain

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April 9th, 2013
how to determine a genre of a song without knowing anything about it
o first: listen for the ensemble
a film score can be widely various
birth of cinema = Paris, 1895 with beginning of short films of Louis & Auguste Lumiere
1926 Warner Brothers Studies invented vitaphone system, which could synchronize
recorded music with action on film reels
music can be linked to characters, scenes, feelings, etc. in movies
Max Steiner (1888-1971)
o King Kong (1933) full length symphonic score is an important early classic
o Gone with the Wind (1939) 3.5 hour original score
o Casablanca (1942) the music in the beginning of this sets the mood/scene so
you know where you are
film score: genre
scoring a film: act of creating a film score
functions of music in film:
o establishes mood, informed & manipulating listener through choices of musical
styles, harmonic language, timbre (ensemble & scoring) & use of common
musical tropes
o sets place & time of action
o running counter to the action: music that is inappropriate for or emotionally
distant from the dramatic action
o character establishment & development
leitmotifs: musical motives that symbolize or are otherwise associated
with particular character, scene, situation, idea, etc.
2 principal types of film music:
o source music/digestive music: music that comes from a source that is part of
the action of the movie; the viewers think that those in the scene can hear the
music that we can hear; the music is in the scene itself; course music can also
move the action
o underscoring/nondigestive music: music that comes from an unseen source
and “outside” the action of the movie
Tan Dun (1957-Present)
o born in Simao (Hunan Province) in China
o served as rice-planter on communal farm
o later became performed of Peking opera during Cultural Revolution
o later studied at Beijing’s Central Conservatory
o became leading figure in “New Wave” of Chinese composers who began to
explore aspects of modern, avant-garde Western art music
o 1983 Chinese government banned public performances of his works music
was “spiritual pollution” due to high degree of western, avant-garde influence
o went to USA in 1986 & earned doctoral degree in musical arts from Columbia
o commissioned to write Symphony 1997: Heaven Earth Mankind for official
ceremony for transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong on July 1st, 1997
o now a composer & conductor of highest rank
o works & appearances in high demand
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