Usc thornton school of music


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rev. syllabus 8/17

Catalog description:

Single-semester survey of the history of original music for motion pictures and television. No musical training required.

Required text:

Hickman, Roger. Reel Music: Exploring 100 Years of Film Music, second edition. W.W. Norton & Company, 2017.

Suggested additional reading:

Burlingame, Jon. Sound and Vision: 60 Years of Motion Picture Soundtracks. Billboard Books, 2000.

Karlin, Fred. Listening to Movies. Schirmer Books, 1994.

Palmer, Christopher. The Composer in Hollywood. Marion Boyars, 1990. Thomas, Tony. Music for the Movies, second edition. Silman-James Press, 1997.


a. Midterm exam, Oct. 12 (33 percent).

b. Term paper (33 percent): Analysis of one complete film score (to be approved by instructor), including a discussion of each cue in the score (description of both the music and its dramatic context, and opinion of its effectiveness). Due Nov. 9.

c. Final exam, Dec. 7 (34 percent).


Any student requesting academic accomodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accomodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. (213) 740-0776.

Office Hours:

By appointment only, my office TMC 125 (Tuesday or Thursday 3-4 p.m. preferable; Wednesdays possible depending on my schedule).

Week 1. Introduction

* Overview of the course

* Film-music basics: What is the function of music in film?

* Discussion of music in silent films: original scores, compiled scores, combinations of both

(for Thurs.) read ch. 1, 3, 4, 9

* Early experiments with underscoring dialogue and action

* Pioneers in dramatic scoring during the 1930s

* Max Steiner

(King Kong, Gone With the Wind, Now Voyager, Casablanca)

Week 2. The Golden Age, part one

read ch. 10, 11

* Rise of the classically trained composer in Hollywood

* Herbert Stothart

(The Good Earth, The Wizard of Oz, Random Harvest)

* Alfred Newman

(Wuthering Heights, The Song of Bernadette, How the West Was Won)

* Erich Wolfgang Korngold

(The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, Kings Row)

Week 3. The Golden Age, part two

read ch. 13, 15

* Miklos Rozsa

(Double Indemnity, Spellbound, Quo Vadis, Ben-Hur)

* Franz Waxman

(Sunset Boulevard, A Place in the Sun, The Spirit of St. Louis)

* Dimitri Tiomkin

(Lost Horizon, High Noon, The Alamo)

* Victor Young

(For Whom the Bell Tolls, Shane, Around the World in 80 Days)

Week 4. The Golden Age, part three

* Film medium matures, fresh new approaches taken

* Bernard Herrmann

(Citizen Kane, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Vertigo, Psycho)

* David Raksin

(Laura, Forever Amber, The Bad and the Beautiful)

* Hugo Friedhofer (The Best Years of Our Lives)

* Hans J. Salter (Universal horror films)

Week 5. New Faces, New Sounds, part one: the ‘50s and ‘60s

read ch. 14, 17

* European-style 19th-century romanticism becomes outmoded as American music and composers come to the fore

* Alex North

(A Streetcar Named Desire, Spartacus, The Misfits)

* Leonard Rosenman

(East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, Fantastic Voyage)

* Elmer Bernstein

(Man With the Golden Arm, Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird)

* Jerome Moross (The Big Country)

Week 6. New Faces, New Sounds, part two: the ’60s and ‘70s

read ch. 18, 19

* Influence of young composers from the big-band era and television

* Jerry Goldsmith

(Planet of the Apes, Patton, Chinatown, Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

* John Barry

(Goldfinger, The Lion in Winter, Out of Africa)

* Henry Mancini

(Touch of Evil, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Pink Panther)

Week 7. Jazz Composers in Film

* Duke Ellington (Anatomy of a Murder, Paris Blues)

* Johnny Mandel

(I Want to Live!, The Sandpiper)

* Quincy Jones

(The Pawnbroker, In Cold Blood, In the Heat of the Night)

* Lalo Schifrin

(Cool Hand Luke, Dirty Harry, Enter the Dragon)

* Dave Grusin

(On Golden Pond, The Firm)

* Terence Blanchard

(25th Hour, Inside Man)

Week 8. Resurgence of the Symphonic Score

read ch. 21

* Spielberg and Lucas spur return to orchestral tradition

* John Williams

(Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars, Schindler’s List)

[midterm exam 10/12]

Week 9. Foreign Composers and Notable Foreign-Film Scores

read ch. 16, 20, 24

* Ennio Morricone

(The Good, the Bad & the Ugly; The Mission)

* Nino Rota

(8 1/2, Romeo and Juliet, The Godfather)

* Maurice Jarre

(Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago)

* Georges Delerue

(Jules et Jim, Day for Night, Agnes of God)

* Michel Legrand

(The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Thomas Crown Affair, Summer of ’42)

Week 10. Concert Hall Composers in Film / Electronic Scores

read ch. 12, 22

* Famed concert composers writing movie scores, reasons why

* Leonard Bernstein (On the Waterfront)

* Aaron Copland (The Red Pony, The Heiress)

* Sergei Prokofiev (Alexander Nevsky)

* William Walton (Henry V, Hamlet, Richard III)

* John Corigliano (The Red Violin)

* Philip Glass (The Hours)

* Electronic music: Forbidden Planet, Andromeda Strain, Blade Runner, etc.

Weeks 11, 12. Scoring Contemporary Films

read ch. 25, 26, 29, 30, 31

* Changes in musical styles, circumstances in the ‘90s and beyond

* Danny Elfman (Batman, Edward Scissorhands)

* Alexandre Desplat (The Queen, Argo, Grand Budapest Hotel)

* Michael Giacchino (Ratatouille, Up)

* Elliot Goldenthal (Alien 3, Frida)

* James Horner (Braveheart, Titanic, Avatar)

* James Newton Howard (The Sixth Sense, The Village)

* Randy Newman (The Natural, Toy Story)

* Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Finding Nemo)

* Rachel Portman (Emma, The Cider House Rules)

* Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings trilogy)

* Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump, The Avengers)

* Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, The Dark Knight, Inception)

[paper due Nov. 9]

Weeks 13, 14. Songs in Film / Music Supervision

* Dramatic use of songs vs. songs as marketing tools

* Historical examples: The Graduate, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now, etc.

* Rise, role and impact of the music supervisor

* Use of original songs in film, changes through the years (Shaft, Saturday Night Fever, etc.)

* Rock/pop stars sign on to do films, win Oscars (Springsteen, Collins, Dylan, Eminem, etc.)

Week 15. Classical Music as Underscore / Music for Animation

* Instances of classical music adapted for film

* Examples: 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Exorcist, Amadeus, Platoon

* Cartoon composers: Carl Stalling at Warner Bros., Scott Bradley at MGM, Frank Churchill and Leigh Harline at Walt Disney

* Fantasia

* Modern examples: Pixar films
Final exam 12/7

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