Aggie's Music

I usually blab about film scores on this blog, but I don't mind the occasional tangent towards other interests. :)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Film Music: A Neglected Art (review)

My first intention was to buy the most recent books on film scoring so I would get more information of the genre as a whole, but it turns out I was going at it the wrong way. The earlier film books (during the time when the art itself wasn’t as popular as it is now) will concentrate on scores made in the 1940s and 50s, which is an excellent time to study. Recent film score books are good, but will take a lot more time to understand because of the expansion of technology beginning in the early 80s. These early books, such as Film Music: A Neglected Art (written by Roy M. Prendergast) are a great gift to present film composers.

Because this book was published in 1977, the door of the room filled with rapid synthesizer technology, huge-budget special effects films, and John Williams is immediately slammed shut on us. And trust me, it feels ever so peaceful. It’s like taking a drive out of the fast city and stopping by in a town filled with priceless memories. I’ve never read a film music book that really highlights the growth of scoring from the 30s-50s. This was the sparkling age of film scores. You had the really cool guys like Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein, Miklos Rozsa, and David Raksin... to name a few.

I don’t want to go too deep into what the book gives you, but I’ll point out a few things that caught my interest. The book not only strikes key significances in film music, but also in the entire film industry... its highs and lows and its struggle with television's rising popularity. One chapter briefly mentions the effectiveness of Wagner’s leitmotif (from Ring des Nibelungen), which is still constantly used in film music today. One other fact I found very interesting was the ‘trade’ of prestigious composers (such as Arnold Schoenberg and Igor Stravinsky) for more advanced American recording equipment.

The book is filled with excerpts from scores such as Laura, Psycho, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Heiress, and The Man with the Golden Arm. Some scans are easier to follow, but others are a bit... scribbly, heh. Still, better scribbles than Beethoven’s rough work... oh man.

I really enjoyed the chapter regarding music in animated film and cartoons. It deals a lot with Chuck Jones’ approach to music on paper, the relation between cartoon music and opera buffa (18th-century opera), and the goods delivered by Scott Bradley. I’ll go into more depth on this chapter in my next post (with scans and clips) because I like making musical comparisons, and this particular topic (cartoon animation) astounds me the most.

I’m telling you, this book took my new-found love for classical film scores to a whole new level. I learned a lot of nifty stuff, and am recommending it to those who are interested in that particular period as well. I put an amazon link below; it’s at an extremely sweet price. Buy it and learn about the REALLY good stuff!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A quick concern from yours truly.

I always thought a symphony concert was better than a rock concert for a few reasons:

(1) You get around twenty times the amount of players and instruments on stage compared to that of a rock band.
(2) With #1 said, despite the greater amount of instruments on stage, I can still keep at ease with the fact that my ears will remain virgin while speakers on a band stage will penetrate them enormously.
(3) With all that noise and damage, rock concerts still don't have classy intermissions to give our ears a break. They don't serve wine either.
(4) I don't get a damn program after a rock concert. Instead, I have to buy a 40 dollar t-shirt to remember that I was even there in the first place.

Yeh, I'm really concerned with the ears of our children. It's not only all those concerts, it's also the abuse of volume control on CD Players, iPods, etc. My simple message is this: once you damage your ears, they will never heal. They're not like skin cells. Beethoven got away with amazing work because he already had such a heavily trained inner ear... his inner ear is better than the majority of the world's who can hear a tune. Nevertheless, you will not be the next Beethoven. I'm not saying rock is bad (or maybe I am), but I want to know that music will forever be heard. Be good to your ears.

Just a little vent.. perhaps a big exaggerated, but I also needed a new post here... baaadly. I watched a lot of classic films over the holidays, though. I can't wait to kill some time and write all about their scores. Bye!