American Film Music: Major Composers, Techniques, Trends, 1915-1990

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McFarland, 1999 - Music - 605 pages
From the neighborhood pianist of silent movie days to the synthesized effects and music video sequences of the 1980s: the great and not-so-great moments in film scoring. Scores from countless films, from Birth of a Nation (1915) through Top Gun (1986), are painstakingly analyzed: how does the score relate to onscreen activity? How does it follow or depart from tradition? How does it represent the strengths and foibles of its composer?
The book includes discussion of trend-setting work such as Max Steiner's King Kong (1933--an early instance of music carrying a significant portion of onscreen action), Bernard Herrmann's Psycho (1960, with its unusual, high, scraping strings-only support of the famous shower scene), and Alex North's A Streetcar Named Desire (1951--the first essentially jazz-oriented score), as well as remarks on the work that followed within the resulting trends.
Discussions are enhanced by musical reproductions of significant themes and motives. Chapters on 14 individual composers working largely within the United States are given perspective by summary chapters on the silent and early sound years, the decades 1930-1980, and the work of composers outside the United States.

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American film music: major composers, techniques, trends, 1915-1990

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In this hefty survey, the authors, teachers and film music fans, skim the careers of nine of the 11 men so well covered in Christopher Palmer's Composer in Hollywood ( LJ 4/15/90), along with Victor ... Read full review


From Silents to Sound
Max Steiner
Alfred Newman

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