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MUSIC 246- Final Exam Guide - Comprehensive Notes for the exam ( 45 pages long!)


Department
Music
Course Code
MUSIC246
Professor
Simon Wood
Study Guide
Final

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UW
MUSIC 246
FINAL EXAM
STUDY GUIDE

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Week 1 - What to Listen For in Film
The musical accompaniment of narrative film
Eg. Apollo 13 (1995) - Composer: James Horner
Based on the space expedition of the same name
Scene of the wife losing her wedding ring down the shower drain, cutting to the tension but
methodical atmosphere of the ready room before the launch
Consider what instruments are heard, where music starts and stops
o Initially no music (not in the shower); starts right before the scene cuts as she resigns that
the ring is gone
o Very patriotic sound
o Strings, percussion, brass
No music during the shower scene. Why
o Small intimate space, very small moment
Music could take away from this scene
Intimate, private moment
Personal moment where the wife loses what represents her husband
Music would cheapen and overdramatize
Reminder that this story is about people
o Leaves space for what follows (palate cleanse)
After this scene music is continuous for several minutes through the following scenes
BUT the music fades in to help transition into the next scene
Doesn't happen abruptly that would cause almost a scare (like done in horror)
Where music isn't can be just as important as where it isn't
Instruments
o Brass: associated with military, heroism, sacrifice
Convention (the way things are usually done)
Associated with military because early astronauts came out of military service
The hope was to come home, but aware that they may not
Style
o Chorale - Protestant Hymn
Chosen because of the predominant religion of the USA
More association with faith and sacrifice
Paired with the visual image of the astronauts putting on their suits
Make their body a cross - more connections can be made to the sacrifice of the
crucifixion
Tempo
o Slow, restrained, controlled, professional
o Very methodical and precise, like what was being done by the characters
o Calm
Volume
o Steady, calm
What is a movie?
Narrative - tells a story
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"Suspension of disbelief"
Film is a discontinuous medium
You don't see everything unfold (doesn't happen in real time)
Can span a day, days, weeks, months, years, generations
Compressed - and we realize this
We are shown some things, and we fill in the rest
Film conventions attempt to minimize anything that threatens the suspension of disbelief
Eg. We don't see the cameras, microphones,
Music brings attention to the fact that it isn't real
o Giant flag to the fact that this isn't real
o It must be valuable to the medium
The Four Functions of Music in Films
1. Music can create a more convincing atmosphere of setting
a. Historical, cultural, geographical (but based on western conventions)
b. Car scene - radio gives insight into location and time period
c. Some amount of racism has remained
i. Meant to get across as quickly as possible the location (even if it isn't accurate), even
if it relies on bad stereotypes
2. Music can underline or create psychological refinements
a. Unspoken thoughts of a character or the unseen implications of a situation
b. Reminder of something that is already known
c. Or steers the viewer to believe something that isn't visually shown
3. Music can provide a sense of continuity in film
a. Helps remedy the discontinuous medium of film
b. The structure of music "smooths over" the chaotic nature of film
c. Music can play through a series of short cuts of video (montage) to quickly portray part of
the narrative
4. Music can provide the underpinning for the theatrical buildup for a scene and round it off with a
sense of finality
a. Music can affect the pacing of a scene
b. Helps propel the plot and matches the peaks and valleys of tension, etc. in the plot
Examples
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) Composer: John Williams
Contains functions 1, 3, and 4
Solo trumpet plays the Indiana Jones Theme (he is a lone hero)
Followed by the love theme (played by strings)
Completed with the convention to indicate a change to Egypt
o Use of oboe - sounds the closest to middle eastern instruments (to the Western ear, at
least)
o Change in the set of notes being played is very noticeable
Plays over cuts between the mountain fight scene, plane and map shots showing movement to
Cairo
Alien Resurrection (1997) Composer: John Frizzell
Contains functions 2, 3, 4
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