Listening to Movies: The Film Lover's Guide to Film Music

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Music has been an essential part of virtually every movie ever made. In the words of the great director D. W. Griffith, "The music sets the mood for what your eye sees; it guides your emotions; it is the emotional framework for visual pictures." Or, as composer Bernard Herrmann said, "Movies need the cement of music." Listening to Movies is the lay person's guide to the exciting world of film music. Featuring 100 photographs, including stills from classic films as well as portraits and candid shots of the creators of film music, this book tells how music for the movies is written, performed, recorded, and mixed; how composers work with directors and producers; and how the whole process evolved. Fred Karlin surveys the history of this very special kind of music, from the era when pianists and live orchestras accompanied silent films, through the great days of the Hollywood studio orchestras and the ground-breaking work of composers like Korngold, Herrmann, and Rozsa, on to the present, when electronic scores, crafted through a dizzying array of high-tech hardware and software, exist side by side with symphonic scores. Throughout, Karlin draws on his interviews with key figures in the industry to personalize the world of film music. Listening to Movies reveals not only how film music is made but how it can be crucial in establishing tone, setting a pace, and involving the audience. Through numerous examples, Karlin helps the reader to understand and appreciate exactly how the music on the soundtrack enhances the movies we see. Here are just a few of the other perspectives this book provides: a unique cue-by-cue breakdown of the music for eight classic movies, from The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) to The Untouchables (1987), demonstrating in detail how the music works with the action; a revealing chapter on the Academy Awards that takes the reader behind the scenes for an inside look at the Oscars telecast and untangles the complicated rules that govern the awa
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
During the course of a lifetime, the average moviegoer will hear thousands of film scores, of which only a handful will register strongly. Karlin, concentrating here on instrumental scores rather than songs, targets the lay reader with no prior musical training. First, he explains the technical means by which a film's music is composed, recorded, and mixed. Next, he discusses what to listen for and how to evaluate a film score, using the music of eight popular films as examples. Karlin also includes an overview of the composer's role, from the era of silent films to the present, as well as personal profiles of the composers. Appendixes covering a list of soundtrack shops and vendors, a filmography, and a list of Academy Award winners and nominees add to his guide's usefulness as a resource. Informative but far from dry, this book should be in any serious film collection.-- Marianne Cawley, Kingwood Branch Lib., Tex.
Ray Olson
There are few books about movie music, but most of them are good. Ditto Karlin's, which, striving for comprehensiveness, covers how film music is composed, recorded, and mixed into a soundtrack; how to listen to it appreciatively; how it actually functions in eight movies famous for their music (including such classics as "The Adventures of Robin Hood" [1938] and "North by Northwest"); how it has been reviewed by intelligent critics; and how it was and is used in silent and nondramatic sound films. And after all that, it's only half over! Karlin now puts on a business-chronicler's hat to discuss movie musicmaking under the Hollywood studio system and subsequently as a freelance occupation, the Oscars for music and how they're awarded, and the commercial importance of songs and soundtrack recordings. The book's last two sections are a short chronology of film-music history and, prefaced by some comments on "How They Got Started," a listing of selected film composers and (only) some of their credits. Appendixes include a list of soundtrack shops and vendors and a worthy annotated bibliography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780028733159
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning
  • Publication date: 5/13/1994
  • Pages: 429
  • Product dimensions: 7.69 (w) x 9.55 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Table of Contents

Forward. Preface. Acknowledgments. PART ONE: HOW IT''''S DONE. 1. Planning the Score. 2. Composing. 3. Recording and Mixing. PART TWO: THE MUSIC. 4. What to Listen For. 5. Evaluating a Score. 6. A Closer Look at Eight Films. 7. Reviews. 8. The Silents and Other Special Films. PART THREE: HOLLYWOOD. 9. The Studio System. 10. Freelancing. PART FOUR: SHOW BUSINESS. 11. The Oscars. 12. Songs and Soundtrack Records. PART FIVE: A SHORT CHRONOLOGY. 13. Decade by Decade. PART SIX: PERSONAL PROFILES. 14. How They Get Started. 15. The Composers and Their Credits. Appendices. A. Academy Award Original Score Nominees and Winners. B. Soundtrack Shops and Vendors. Filmography. A Selective Annotated Bibliography. End Notes. Index.
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