Online Master's Degree Course

Film Score Analysis

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Authored by Timothy Huling

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Course Code: OCOMP-525

Next term starts January 13, 2020

Level 5 - Degree Only

Level 5

In this course you’ll examine the role of music in visual storytelling, explore how film composers establish and use an effective musical vocabulary, and learn to see films through the lens of a filmmaker. Analysis in this course emphasizes thematic and textural development and other musical elements that contribute to the overall narrative of the picture. You will learn how to utilize different dimensions of music—such as tempo, rhythm, timbre, harmonic language, and melodic contour— to support film in specific ways: expressing the film’s narrative structure, the characters’ transformation, the world of the film, the characters’ inner life, and more. We’ll also investigate how musical choices reflect the filmmakers’ visual choices in the making of their movie: shot angles, color palette, editing, and more. Each week during the first half of the semester, the course will cover one dimension of music and how it relates to the film and the story. During the second half of the term, we will deeply explores the music of one film each week. 

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This course will not only help you become a more effective film composer, but a more effective dramatist. This course will cover textural and electronic scores, in addition to traditional scores, and will emphasize a variety of genres and a diverse set of filmmakers and composers.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Explain how film composers establish a particular sound for a film

  • Demonstrate how a film composer’s musical choices support storytelling in film

  • Recognize recurring themes and understand theme transformation in film music

  • Analyze non-thematic film scores

  • Articulate a general breadth of knowledge in film

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Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Request Info

Syllabus

Lesson 1: Themes and Thematic Transformation

  • Theme Attribution: Who, or What, Gets a Theme
  • Theme Construction
  • Theme Use and Transformation
  • Non-Thematic Film Scores
  • Assignment 1: Theme Analysis: Avengers: Infinity War

Lesson 2: Harmony in Film Music, Part 1

  • Foundations of Film Music Harmony
  • Jazz and Pop influence on Film Music Harmony
  • Modes in Film Music Harmony
  • Assignment 2: Analysis of Harmony in Film Music

Lesson 3: Harmony in Film Music, Part 2

  • Non-Tertiary
  • Post-Tonal
  • Minimalism
  • Assignment 3: Analysis of Modern Harmony in Selected Film Music

Lesson 4: Tempo, Pulse, Rhythm, and Harmonic Rhythm in Film Music

  • Tempo and Pulse
  • Rhythm
  • Harmonic Rhythm
  • Assignment 4: Analysis of Tempo and Pulse, Rhythm, and Harmonic Rhythm in Selected Film Music

Lesson 5: Instrumentation and Genre in Film Music

  • The Orchestral Film Score
  • Other Ensembles, and Style, in Film Music: Genre Influence
  • The Electronic Film Score
  • Assignment 5: Analysis of Instrumentation and its Relationship to Drama in Selected Film Music

Lesson 6: Spotting and Cue Anatomy

  • Spotting: Where Should Music Go?
  • How Music Begins and Ends
  • Hit Points: Why and How
  • Assignment 6: Analysis of Spotted and Hitpoints

Lesson 7: Gone with the Wind

  • Overview of Gone with the Wind and Max Steiner’s Score
  • Themes and Transformation of Themes
  • Harmonic Language, Instrumentation, and Style
  • Contrasting Material
  • Assignment 7: Final Project Part 1: Spotting, Cue Beginnings and Endings, and Genre

Lesson 8: Psycho

  • Overview of Psycho and Bernard Herrmann’s Score
  • Themes and Transformation of Themes
  • Harmonic Language, Instrumentation, and Style
  • Contrasting Material
  • Assignment 8: Final Project Part 2: Themes and Thematic Transformation

Lesson 9: Patton

  • Overview of Patton and Jerry Goldsmith’s Score
  • Themes and Transformation of Themes
  • Harmonic Language, Instrumentation, and Style
  • Contrasting Material
  • Assignment 9: Final Project Part 3: Harmonic Language

Lesson 10: Joy Luck Club

  • Overview of Joy Luck Club and Rachel Portman’s Score
  • Themes and Transformation of Themes
  • Harmonic Language, Instrumentation, and Style
  • Contrasting Material
  • Assignment 10: Final Project Part 4: Tempo, Pulse and Rhythm, and Harmonic Rhythm

Lesson 11: Road to Perdition

  • Overview of Road to Perdition and Thomas Newman’s Score
  • Themes and Transformation of Themes
  • Harmonic Language, Instrumentation, and Style
  • Contrasting Material
  • Assignment 11: Final Project Part 5: Cue Anatomy

Lesson 12: BlacKkKlansman

  • Overview of BlacKkKlansman and Terence Blanchard’s Score
  • Themes and Transformation of Themes
  • Harmonic Language, Instrumentation, and Style
  • Contrasting Material

Requirements

Requirements coming soon.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of  Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software (available in the course when joining your first chat)
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal Microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection

Instructors

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Author & Instructor

Tim Huling is a composer, orchestrator, producer and educator who works in music for film, TV, video games, the concert hall, and more. His credits include films such as Georgia Rule and Mad Money; TV shows such as Little PeopleBig World and Inside Passage; video games such as Planetary Annihilation and Skyrealm; and installations such as Hunger Games at the Motiongate Theme Park and Great Seattle Fire at MOHAI. Tim has enjoyed concert premieres, including works for symphony orchestra, chamber ensemble, various jazz works, and two ballets.

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In 2014, Tim was proud to return to his alma mater, the Film Scoring Department at Berklee College of Music. There he teaches film music composition, orchestration, and technology. Read Less

Questions?

Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at advisors@online.berklee.edu.

We can also answer basic questions in the comments below. Please note that all comments are public.

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