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Lecture 24

MUSC 102 Lecture Notes - Lecture 24: Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Bernard Herrmann, Leitmotif

Course Code
MUSC 102
Peter Freeman

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Module 4 – Week 11
Soundtracks and Video Games
Sound and Image
- In the early years of lm production (early 1900s), the
soundtrack was designed to drown out the sound of the projector
- Since early lms were silent, the soundtrack was provided by a
live pianist
- The music wasn’t usually composed for the lm. Instead, the
pianist would play a selection of classical pieces suitable to the
action of the screen.
- There were also collections of “Photoplay Music,” which had a
selection of music broken down by mood to suit any on-screen
event. The pianist could select from among them.
- When composers, like Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957)
began to write on-screen music for lms, it was either in a late
Romantic idiom or jazz and popular music
- Wagner’s concept of the
was extremely conservative
comparted to what was going on in other parts of classical music
(avant-garde, serialism, etc.)
- As composers began to see the potential for the lm music
medium, they began to bring more contemporary musical ideas
to lm music
- Composer Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) worked with Alfred
Hitchcock. He brought extreme dissonance and avant-garde
ideas to his soundtrack for
Psycho (1960)
and used electronic
instruments, such as the theremin, for
The Day the Earth Stood
- The early science ction lm
Forbidden Planet
features an
entirely electronic score, resulting in a soundtrack more akin to
sound art than music
- Film music still has a tendency to be conservative, even today,
but there are notable exceptions
Three Types of On-Screen Music
- Diegetic Music: this is music for which the source is on-screen.
The characters on screen can hear this music, so it can include a
band playing in a scene or somebody singing
- Non-diegetic Music: this is music that is not heard by the
characters on screen. It comes from outside the world depicted
on the screen. This includes soundtrack music that is meant to
convey the mood to the viewer, but not the character
- Metadiegetic Music: This term refers to music that a character is
hearing inside their head and which the viewer can also hear. It is
music that provides a glimpse into the mind of a single character.
Only the viewer and that character experience the music, so it is
a combination of diegetic and non-diegetic music
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