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Unit information: Critical Analysis of Media Music in 2015/16

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Unit name Critical Analysis of Media Music
Unit code MUSIM0020
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Heldt
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Music
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The unit is designed to introduce students to different ways of looking at music for film and TV, and to the choice of different analytical tools and methods, depending on the salient features of the music in question. The unit introduces the students to characteristic examples from different periods of film music history, from early sound film to the present day, including original scores as well as compilation scores, and to appropriate theoretical frameworks (including narrative theory, semiotics, critical theory) and analytical methods to describe those score adequately. Issues discussed in the session devoted to TV music include music in fact-based programmes (news, documentaries, features), music in TV series and music in TV advertising. The unit starts with the analysis of examples in lectures and mixed lecture/seminar sessions and moves on to sessions in which the students apply what they have learned to their own analyses.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. explore key stages and key examples in the development of music in sound films;
  2. learn to describe different film music practices and aesthetics in relation to modes of film production and to aspects of cultural history;
  3. acquire key concepts and terms of theoretical concepts appropriate to the analysis of film and TV music and apply them to analyses of examples of their own choice;
  4. develop graphic and verbal techniques to represent key features of a film or TV score
  5. make oral presentations of their own analyses of selected films/sequences from films.

Teaching Information

1 x 2hr lecture each week

Assessment Information

1. An extended analysis of an approved film (4,000 words, 65% of final mark)

2. One of the following (35% of final mark):

a. The close reading of the music to a film excerpt (max. 10 minutes) (2,000 words)

b. The critique of a film score and concept for the re-scoring of the film (2,000 words)

  • Assessment 1 will allow students to demonstrate learning outcomes 1-4.
  • Assessment 2 will allow students to demonstrate learning outcomes 2-4.
  • Non-assessed oral presentations during the unit will allow students to demonstrate learning outcome 5.

Reading and References

  1. James Buhler, David Neumeyer & Rob Deemer: Hearing the Movies. Music and Sound in Film History. New York & Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  2. Michel Chion: Film, a Sound Art (trans. C. Gorbman). New York: Columbia University Press, 2009 (orig. Art sonore, le cinéma, Paris 2003).
  3. Mervyn Cooke: A History of Film Music. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
  4. Claudia Gorbman: Unheard Melodies. Narrative Film Music. Bloomington & London: University of Indiana Press & BFI, 1987.
  5. Guido Heldt: Music and Levels of Narration in Film. Steps across the Border. Bristol& Chicago: Intellect, 2013.
  6. Phil Powrie/Robynn Stilwell (eds.): Changing Tunes. The Use of Pre-Existing Music in Film. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.