MUSIC 325 A Su 20: Music In Cinema

MUSIC 325 A Su 20: 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. Discussion / Participation / Q&A [5%] We cover a lot of material in this class and you will participate in discussions frequently. To this end you must complete the reading in a timely manner. Each student should prepare at least 3 questions about the readings, films, and online lectures to start things off. To keep things fair, we will use a random number generator to determine which students will be called on to respond with/to questions/prompts in class.
  2. Assignment [10%] Masking / 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

TV Tropes

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound






6/22: Introduction: syllabus, goals, requirements | The beginnings of cinematic sound, the legacy of the 19th century, close listening. Diegetic/non-diegetic music, empathetic/anempathetic music.

Reading: New Yorker, Hearing the Movies, Adorno/Eisler, Eisenstein

New Yorker article online (includes links to musical examples)


CLASS SESSION (zoom video)


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

Rivendell Scene 1 - The Fellowship of the Ring

Pippin's Song Edge of Night (LOTR)


Terminology: Diegetic Sound | Non-Diegetic Sound


6/24: Montage, Mise-en-scène, a crash course in aesthetics, the political psychology of mechanized art. 

Video Lecture: A Crash Course in Ethics and Aesthetics


Beethoven's 5th Symphony, 1st movement: Allegro Con Brio

Video Lecture: The Political Psychology of Mechanized Art

Lecture Manuscript

The Kuleshov Effect

Eisenstein's 5 Methods of Montage

October (1928) — The Machine Gun


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


6/26: Alexander Nevsky, A crash course in film theory

Alexander Nevsky (1939) The Battle On The Ice

Alexander Nevsky (MPAA rating: NR)


Alexander Nevsky on TV Tropes


Video Lecture: A Crash Course in Film Theory

Lecture Manuscript


Discussions on Film/Reading | Formalism and Realism | Masking Exercise

Reading: Peter Bürger, Montage (optional) / Jonathan Crary, Modernizing Vision (optional)

Terminology: Camera Obscura

Notes: Film Theory

Zoom Session




Video Lecture: Things you need to know about harmony

BLERG!: at 6:32 I meant to say FUNDAMENTAL frequency


6/29: Film and desire, psychoanalytic perspectives, the Tristan chord

Lecture Manuscript

Lecture Manuscript


Reading: Schopenhauer (var. selections) / Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (excerpt)

Noël Carroll, Vertigo - the impossible love


Bernard Herrmann Vertigo Suite, Prelude

Richard Wagner - Tristan und Isolde, Prelude

Stephen Fry - The Tristan Chord

Notes: Schopenhauer - Wagner - Freud


7/1: Video Lectures: Freud

Freud Lecture Manuscripts


Reading: Schopenhauer (var. selections) / Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (excerpt)

Noël Carroll, Vertigo - the impossible love


Watch: Vertigo (MPAA rating: PG)

Vertigo on TV Tropes


Some appearances of the Tristan Chord in Vertigo (pdf):

Also: see 1:53:40-50 (Judy as Madeleine)  1:58:55 (The necklace: "There, I'm ready") 1:59:25-35 (Drive to the tower)

Vertigo Shot (Zoom-In/Track-Back)


Video Lecture: Vertigo

Lecture Manuscript


Hitchcock Explains What a McGuffin Is

Extra Credit: The Mystery of McGuffin Manor - unsolved.pdf

Žižek - Our Fear of Falling in Love

Notes: Freud - Dreams - Beyond Pleasure.pptx 


QUIZ #1 Due by 6:50 pm


7/3: Independence Day Observed




7/6: Masking / Commutation Test


Masking Exercise #1

(sound only)

(sound + video)


Masking Exercise #2

(video only)

(video + sound)


Commutation Test


Requiem for a Dream (commutated)

Requiem for a Dream (original sound)


The Shining (original sound)

The Shining (commutated)


Watch: 2001: a Space Odyssey (MPAA rating: G)

Reading: Nietzsche, Zarathustra / Birth of Tragedy (excerpts)

Notes: Schopenhauer Nietzsche Kubrick


2001 on TV Tropes


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


zoom session


7/8: Discussion: 2001: a Space Odyssey 

Notes: Schopenhauer Nietzsche Kubrick


Video Lecture: Nietzsche - The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music

Lecture Manuscript


2001 on TV Tropes


Video Lecture: 2001: A Nietzschean Odyssey

Lecture Manuscript



7/10: Masking / Commutation Test Assignment DUE

Musique Concrète  

Reading: Chion, Audio-vision (excerpt) / Schafer, The Tuning of the World (Ch. 9)

The Concept of „Sound Object“ (objet sonore) by Pierre Schaeffer


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

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)




7/13: Continue Discussion of Musique Concrète


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

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

Bazin and the Phenomenology of Film

Read: Divining the real: the leaps of faith in André Bazin’s film criticism


Terminology: Deep Focus | Cinema Verité | Long Take


zoom session


7/15: Watch: Elephant (Google Drive link)

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

Reading: Jordan, The Ecology of Listening while Looking (optional)


Elephant on TV Tropes


Video Lecture: On the intensity of experience — Cage, Schaeffer, Bazin, Van Sant

Lecture Manuscript

QUIZ #2 Due by 6:29 pm


7/17:  Midterm Projects DUE || Midterm Party!




7/20: Classical aesthetics

Video Lecture: Classical aesthetics — what is really real?

Lecture Manuscript

Read: Plato, Republic, bks, VII/X / Aristotle, Poetics (optional)


7/22: Mulholland Drive

Watch: Mulholland Drive (rent online)

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

Reading: Miller, Monstrous Maturity on Mulholland Drive

Freud, The Uncanny (optional)


Mulholland Drive on TV Tropes


Mulholland Drive / Club Silencio Scene


7/29: Final Projects Due by 5:00 pm

QUIZ #3 Due by 6:29 pm


Course Summary:

Date Details