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A History of Film Music

  • Date Published: September 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521811736


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About the Authors
  • This book provides a comprehensive and lively introduction to the major trends in film scoring from the silent era to the present day, focussing not only on dominant Hollywood practices but also offering an international perspective by including case studies of the national cinemas of the UK, France, India, Italy, Japan and the early Soviet Union. The book balances wide-ranging overviews of film genres, modes of production and critical reception with detailed non-technical descriptions of the interaction between image track and soundtrack in representative individual films. In addition to the central focus on narrative cinema, separate sections are also devoted to music in documentary and animated films, film musicals and the uses of popular and classical music in the cinema. The author analyses the varying technological and aesthetic issues that have shaped the history of film music, and concludes with an account of the modern film composer's working practices.

    • Contains 'behind the scenes' accounts of production and critical reception
    • Contains no jargon or technical language, making it ideal for the film music enthusiast as well as students
    • Avoids the Anglophone focus usually adopted by film music studies, presenting instead an international perspective
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Written in a clean, clear prose shot through with a lightly-worn, concisely-argued scholarship, this is a considerable achievement and an essential read for anyone interested in this vital and still developing genre.' Classical Music Magazine

    'Mervyn Cooke hasn't written merely 'a' history of film music - when all the reckoning is done, this will surely be 'the' history of film music written for cinema, from 1920s silent films to the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Writing about a medium that, as Aaron Copland once cogently put it, is designed to be felt rather than explicitly heard is an exacting task, and one that leaves many floundering. But Cooke's background writing about opera and jazz puts his brain in the right place for considering an art form that aims to balance artifice and spontaneity. … An authoritative read, written with the cracking pace of a Bond thriller.' Classic FM

    'Cooke writes accessibly yet with as much intellectual rigor on the propagandistic songs of Shostakovich as on MTV's impact on Flashdance. … Crammed with source acknowledgement for further reading, this is nothing short of essential reading for anyone with an interest in film.' BBC Music Magazine

    'Cooke has written a book useful to readers with or without musical background … they [readers] will appreciate a historical study that incorporates music and film studies and keeps the film music, not the films, its focus.' Choice

    'The real charm of Mervyn Cooke's A History of Film Music … is the sheer breadth of coverage and the passion with which this coverage is conveyed. Never before has a work attempted such a wide-ranging, vivid, and well-documented sweep of film music and, for this reason among many others, it is a work thoroughly to be recommended.' Music and Letters

    'Cooke arranges his book thematically rather than chronologically, and gives substantial attention to the work of important film music composers such as Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Hanns Eisler, Georges Auric, and Ennio Morricone.' Larry M. Timm, Journal of the Society for American Music

    'The world of film music will rejoice at being the subject of Mervyn Cooke's new book. It is both scholarly and highly accessible - a must have for anyone interested in this increasingly popular topic.' George Fenton, film composer

    'If you can only buy one film music book, make it this one … This is perhaps one of the most clear and cogently conceived overviews of music that one is likely to see … one is struck by the fine choices Cooke makes to illustrate his point, whether he is discussing a Virgil Thomson score, or why a Scott Bradley animated short score works best. … With no room for subsequent updates or supplements, this may very well be 'the' film music book for some time to come. … this is a book that every lover of film music should have on their shelves. It is a book not so much to be read but to be savoured and enjoyed.' Film Music Review

    '… this is a wonderful and important book, and its comprehensive, encyclopedic scope makes it a valuable resource especially for upper-level courses beyond the general education curriculum.' Blake Howe, Journal of Music History Pedagogy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2008
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521811736
    • length: 586 pages
    • dimensions: 258 x 177 x 38 mm
    • weight: 1.27kg
    • contains: 27 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    Preface and acknowledgements
    1. The 'silent' cinema
    2. Sound on track
    3. Hollywood's Golden Age: narrative cinema and the classical film score
    4. Stage and screen
    5. The mainstream divides: postwar horizons in Hollywood
    6. 'Never let it be mediocre': film music in the United Kingdom
    7. Defectors to television
    8. Film music in France
    9. Global highlights
    10. Popular music in the cinema
    11. Classical music in the cinema
    12. State of the art: film music since the New Hollywood
    Index of film titles
    General index.

  • Author

    Mervyn Cooke, University of Nottingham
    Mervyn Cooke is Professor of Music at the University of Nottingham.

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