Music In Cinema

Music In Cinema



Professor: Huck Hodge, DMA • Office: 325 Music




This course will survey of some of the most representative films and film scores of the 20th century while laying the groundwork for students to acquire the skills necessary to critically engage film as a multi-sensorial experience. Special attention will be paid to aesthetic questions arising from the fusion of sound and image as well as the psychological, political and philosophical resonances that result from this union.



Students will gain exposure to the techniques used in many artistic media that touch on the boundaries of the musicology of film (opera, theater, television, video games, etc.). In addition, they will acquire an understanding of the nature of film music‘s cultural importance, and the degree to which it can shape our emotional, philosophical and political response to cinema. This will enable students to enjoy film-going with a more thoughtful and critical eye and ear than before.



Students will be evaluated through the use of the following assessment procedures:


  1. Attendance and Participation [10%] Attendance is mandatory. You will be required to participate in discussions in almost every class. To this end you must complete all the reading before the scheduled discussions. We will use a random number generator to determine which students will be called on to respond to questions/prompts in class.
  2. Quizzes [20%] There will be 3 online quizzes given throughout the quarter. These will cover material from the lectures, readings and films.
  3. Presentations [10%] There will be two presentations you give this quarter
  4. Midterm Project [25%] Create a Musique Concréte "radio play". Using only sound effects create a 2 – 3 minute story / composition. 
  5. Final Project [35%] The final will consist of a scoring of a brief scene from a short silent film. You must use pre-existing (compilation) music or original music AND sound design. You must pay close attention to the interaction of sound and image. You will also be asked write a 2-page statement describing how the techniques and ideas presented in class influence your piece.

 The chart for converting percentage grades to the 4.0 scale can be found here.



Columbia University Film Glossary





6/19: Introduction: syllabus, goals, requirements | The beginnings of cinematic sound, the legacy of the 19th century, close listening


Begin Reading Assignment #1


The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

pay particular attention to the sound / music at these points:

1:45 - 2:00, 2:30-2:40

 Force Theme - Star Wars Original Trilogy - Leitmotiv through the Saga
Original Imperial March Star Wars Episode V Empire Strikes Back
Imperial March - Star Wars VI Return of the Jedi - Darth Vader's Death


6/20: Discussions on Reading #1 | Montage, Mise-en-scène, and the political psychology of mechanized art.
The Kuleshov Effect

Eisenstein's 5 Methods of Montage


Terminology: Montage | Mise-en-scène | (Continuity) Editing

Notes: Topic/Leitmotif/Montage.key


6/21: Screening: Alexander Nevsky Preliminary Discussions

(MPAA rating: NR)

Alexander Nevsky (1939) The Battle On The Ice


6/22: Discussions on Film/Reading | Formalism and Realism, diegetic/non-diegetic music, empathetic/anempathetic music, demonstration of masking exercise.

Apocalypse Now (1979): Ride of the Valkyries


Reading Assignment #2


Terminology: Diegetic Sound | Non-Diegetic Sound

Notes: Suture 2017.pptx


6/23: Presentation #1: MASKING/ANALYSIS | create an analysis of a

short scene and present either the visual or auditory track. Then present clip with both

tracks. Discuss.

Refer to the instructions here



6/26: Film and desire, psychoanalytic perspectives, the Tristan chord

Vertigo: Preliminary Discussions

Bernard Herrmann Vertigo Suite, Prelude

Richard Wagner - Tristan und Isolde, Prelude

QUIZ #1 Due by 6:50 pm


6/27: Screening: Vertigo (MPAA rating: PG)

Vertigo Shot (Zoom-In/Track-Back)

6/28: Discussions on Film/Reading #3

Begin Reading Assignment #4

Notes: Freud - Dreams - Beyond Pleasure.pptx 


6/29: Screening: 2001: a Space Odyssey

(MPAA rating: G)

Richard Strauss — Also sprach Zarathustra (Sunrise)

György Ligeti, Requiem — Dies Irae

György Ligeti, Atmospheres

2001: Dawn of man / space station docking with Alex North score


6/30: Discussion: 2001: a Space Odyssey

Discussions on Film/Reading #4

Notes: Schopenhauer Nietzsche Kubrick.pptx 



7/3: No Class

QUIZ #2 Due by 6:50 pm




7/5: Presentation #2: COMMUTATION TEST, HtM pp. 110 – 113 | What sort of synchronization does the music provide for the film? Is it empathetic, anempathetic, neutral, etc.? What are the psychological and narrative effects of your choice?

Description/Instructions for Presentation #2

Begin Reading Assignment #5


7/6: Presentation #2: COMMUTATION TEST, HtM pp. 110 – 113 | What sort of synchronization does the music provide for the film? Is it empathetic, anempathetic, neutral, etc.? What are the psychological and narrative effects of your choice?

Description/Instructions for Presentation #2

Reading Assignment #5 


7/7: Musique Concrète / Discussion of Reading #5

Once Upon a Time in The West (1968) | opening sequence

Pierre Schaeffer - etude aux chemins de fer

Steve Reich - Come Out (Original Ver.).mp3

Speech to song demonstration

Huck Hodge - Pools of shadow from an older sky, IV. In lost Venetian air (2011)


Begin Reading #6 

Article on Pierre Schaeffer and the sound object (objet sonore)



7/10: Screening: Elephant, TBA/ Preliminary Discussions

(MPAA rating: R for disturbing violent content, language, brief sexuality and drug use - all involving teens)

Discussion of Film / Reading #6

Hildegard Westerkamp - Türen der Wahrnehmungen (Doors of Perception) (1989) Part I

Hildegard Westerkamp - Türen der Wahrnehmungen (Doors of Perception) (1989) Part II

Francis White - Walk Through resonant Landscape No. 2 (1992)


Terminology: Deep Focus | Cinema Verité


7/11: Discussion of Film / Reading #6 || Midterm Project Presentations

Begin Reading Assignment #7


7/12: Midterm Project Presentations

Reading #7


7/13: Screening: Mulholland Drive

(MPAA rating: R for explicit nudity and sexual situations, strong language, violence and disturbing images)

Reading #7 


7/14: Discussions on Film / Reading #7

Mulholland Drive / Club Silencio Scene


Notes: Classical Aesthetics - Elephant - Mulholland Drive.pptx




7/17: Screening Lola Rennt

(MPAA rating: R for some violence and language)


7/18: Discussion of Film/Final Project Presentations


7/19: Final Project Presentations

QUIZ #3 Due by 6:50 pm


Course Summary:

Date Details Due