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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Film Music

Translated by John Irons
Just hearing a few notes from certain songs can bring a movie back to life—whether the Doors’ “The End” from Apocalypse Now, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” in The Graduate, or John Williams’ scores to such blockbusters as Jaws, Star Wars, and Raiders of the Lost Ark. But what is the relationship between film and music—where does the film begin and the music end?

Taking off from a variation of that question—whether music accompanies a film or a film illustrates the music—Peter Larsen probes the complex relationship between the two. He charts the history of music in film, exploring along the way the role that music plays in the narrative and psychological functions of film. Examining such classics and blockbusters as The Big Sleep, American Graffiti, North by Northwest, and Blade Runner,Larsen uses these case studies to demonstrate how scores and soundtracks can expose unexpected new facets of a film.

A wholly accessible examination, Film Music will be an essential read for music scholars and film buffs alike.


256 pages | 25 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 2005

Film Studies

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"This study of film music contains enough arresting detail to at least be of passing interest to your average soundtrack collector. . . . It will certainly be a must for Bernard Herrmann fans, given its thorough examination of his score for Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. On this count alone the book is worth its while."

Howard Maxford | Film Review

Table of Contents

1    Silent Films, Talking Music
2    Analysing Film Music
3    Back to the Future: Metropolis, 1927
4    Musical Meanings
5    Enter the Sound Film
6    Film Music from the Golden Age: The Big Sleep, 1946
7    Other Ways: North by Northwest, 1959
8    Striking a New Note: Film Music after the Golden Age
9    Necessity or Possibility?  The Psychology of Film Music
10  Musical Functions

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