MUSIC 325 A Su 18: Music In Cinema

MUSIC 325 A Su 18: 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 last 100 years while laying the groundwork for students to acquire the skills necessary to critically engage with film as a multi-media 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.



Course grades will comprise the following components:

  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. Assignment/Presentations [5%] 1. Masking Exercise | 2. Commutation Test 
  3. Quizzes [15%] There will be 3 online quizzes given throughout the quarter. These will cover material from the lectures, readings and films.
  4. Midterm Project [30%] Using only sound effects create a 2 / 3-minute Musique Concréte composition / story. 
  5. Final Project [40%] The final will involve scoring of a brief scene from a short silent film. You must use original or pre-existing (compilation) music AND sound design. You must pay close attention to the interaction of sound and image. You will also write a 3-page (750-word) 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

Examples of Film Sound Techniques (College Film & Media Studies) Glossary of Sound Terminology





6/18: Introduction: syllabus, goals, requirements | The beginnings of cinematic sound, the legacy of the 19th century, close listening. Diegetic/non-diegetic music, empathetic/anempathetic music, demonstration of masking exercise.

Begin Reading #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


Apocalypse Now (1979): Ride of the Valkyries



Terminology: Diegetic Sound | Non-Diegetic Sound


6/19: 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



6/20: Screening: Alexander Nevsky 

(MPAA rating: NR)

Alexander Nevsky (1939) The Battle On The Ice


6/21: Discussions on Film/Reading | Formalism and Realism | Masking Exercise

Reading #2

Notes: Formalism / Realism / Suture Theory



6/25: Film and desire, psychoanalytic perspectives, the Tristan chord

Vertigo: Preliminary Discussions

Begin Reading #3


Notes: Schopenhauer - Wagner - Freud



Bernard Herrmann Vertigo Suite, Prelude

Richard Wagner - Tristan und Isolde, Prelude

QUIZ #1 Due by 6:50 pm


6/26: Screening: Vertigo

(MPAA rating: PG)

Vertigo Shot (Zoom-In/Track-Back)

6/27: Discussions on Film/Reading #3

Begin Reading #4

Notes: Freud - Dreams - Beyond Pleasure.pptx 



6/28: 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



7/2: Discussion: 2001: a Space Odyssey | Commutation Test

Discussions on Film/Reading #4

Begin Reading #5

Notes: Schopenhauer Nietzsche Kubrick



7/3: Commutation Test | Musique Concrète | Discussion of Reading #5



Commutation Tests

Requiem for a Dream

The Shining


Musique Concrète

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)







7/9: Continue Discussion of Musique Concrète

Screening: Elephant, TBA/ Preliminary Discussions

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




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

QUIZ #2 Due by 6:50 pm


7/10: Discussion of Film / Reading #6 || Midterm Project Presentations

Begin Reading Assignment #7


7/11: Midterm Project Presentations

Reading #7


7/12: Screening: Mulholland Drive

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

Reading #7 




7/16: Discussions on Film / Reading #7

Mulholland Drive / Club Silencio Scene

 Notes: Classical Aesthetics - Elephant - Mulholland Drive.pptx


7/17: Final Project Presentations


7/18: Final Project Presentations


QUIZ #3 Due by 6:50 pm


Course Summary:

Date Details Due