Article

Film Music

James Wierzbicki

in Music

ISBN: 9780199757824
Published online November 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199757824-0113
Film Music

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The English-language literature on film music dates back to c. 1909, when advice columns on film accompaniment (likely for solo piano) began to appear in the numerous trade magazines that sprang up to serve the needs of the cartel-linked companies that provided one-reel films to nickelodeon-style cinemas. Film music was for the most part professionalized after World War I, when one-reel films were replaced by multireel features, and when the typical venue for films changed from the small nickelodeon to the capacious “movie palace” that required accompaniments played by an orchestra or by a single performer at the newly invented instrument called the “theater organ”; accordingly, the literature shifted from practical articles to a combination of critical commentaries and “human interest” stories centered on music directors for large urban cinemas. The 1930s witnessed the publication of a number of theoretical books and articles; the 1940s and 1950s saw not many books on film music but a proliferation of film music criticism (by writers such as Hans Keller and Antony Hopkins in England and Lawrence Morton in the United States) in journals normally devoted both to film and “serious” music. As noted in the next section, in the 1970s there appeared books on film music aimed at the lay reader, but film music scholarship as it is known today was not launched until the mid-1980s, when musically attuned scholars from the established field of comparative literature and the relatively new field of film studies began to pay close attention to film scores. With very few exceptions, the musical precincts of the academic world paid no attention at all to film music until the mid- to late 1990s; nevertheless, since 2000 the study of film music, from the perspective both of film studies and musicology, has been one of the academy’s “hottest” fields. This bibliography progresses from general works, through anthologies, guidebooks, bibliographies, and academic journals now being devoted entirely to the burgeoning field of film music, to, finally, specialized studies, early studies, and region-specific studies. The ten subsections grouped under the heading Specialized Studies, which includes literature on the film-related areas of television and video games, represent only the most prominent of the field’s subcategories. The section labeled Early Studies deals not with studies of the early period of film music, but, rather, with studies of film music that appeared relatively early in the field’s history; the section labeled Region-Specific Studies deals for the most part with studies focused on film music in various ways geographically distant from the Hollywood mainstream.

Article.  11649 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Applied Music ; Ethnomusicology ; Music Theory and Analysis ; Musicology and Music History ; Music Education and Pedagogy

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