Film music is as old as cinema itself. Years before synchronized sound became the norm, projected moving images were shown to musical accompaniment, whether performed by a lone piano player or a hundred-piece orchestra. Today film music has become its own industry, indispensable to the marketability of movies around the world. Film Music: A Very Short Introduction is a compact, lucid, and thoroughly engaging overview written by one of the leading authorities on the subject. After opening with a fascinating analysis of the music from a key sequence in Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, Kathryn Kalinak introduces listeners not only to important composers and musical styles but also to modern theoretical concepts about how and why film music works. Throughout the book she embraces a global perspective, examining film music in Asia and the Middle East as well as in Europe and the United States.
Key collaborations between directors and composers - Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann, Akira Kurosawa and Fumio Hayasaka, Federico Fellini and Nino Rota, to name only a few - come under scrutiny, as do the oft-neglected practices of the silent film era. She also explores differences between original film scores and compilation soundtracks that cull music from preexisting sources. As Kalinak points out, film music can do many things, from establishing mood and setting to clarifying plot points and creating emotions that are only dimly realized in the images. This book illuminates the many ways it accomplishes those tasks and will have its listeners thinking a bit more deeply and critically the next time they sit in a darkened movie theater and music suddenly swells as the action unfolds onscreen.
©2010 Kathryn Kalinak (P)2013 Audible Inc.
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As overviews go, this one's not bad. I think I had it in my head to expect it to be more Hollywood-centric, but it's bigger than that, covering music from China, India, Russia, etc. As a result, you get a wider view, but not as much information about any given part of it. It's nothing groundbreaking, but there are a few fun facts and plenty of interesting anecdotes to be had. All in all, it does provide a good launching point for further exploration, which should be the point.
Historian and music lover. Trying to learn French.
Some of these Very Short Introductions are quite good, but this one gets a bit too thin for me. The historical overview is too sparse to be enlightening, some of the basic nomenclature is missing, and there is no real introduction to the theoretical discourse. If you're interested in film music, I see no reason for not move directly to a more extensive account. There are plenty (in printed form).
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