The Invisible Art of Film Music

A Comprehensive History

By (author) Laurence E. MacDonald

Publication date:

02 May 2013

Length of book:

624 pages


Scarecrow Press

ISBN-13: 9780810890589

Beginning with the era of synchronized sound in the 1920s, music has been an integral part of motion pictures. Whether used to heighten the tension of a scene or evoke a subtle emotional response, scores have played a significant—if often unrealized—role in the viewer’s enjoyment.

In The Invisible Art of Film Music, Laurence MacDonald provides a comprehensive introduction for the general student, film historian, and aspiring cinematographer. Arranged chronologically from the silent era to the present day, this volume provides insight into the evolution of music in cinema and analyzes the vital contributions of scores to hundreds of films.

MacDonald reviews key developments in film music and discusses many of the most important and influential scores of the last nine decades, including those from Modern Times, Gone with the Wind, Citizen Kane, Laura, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, Jaws, Ragtime, The Mission, Titanic, Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings, Brokeback Mountain, and Slumdog Millionaire. MacDonald also provides biographical sketches of such great composers as Max Steiner, Alfred Newman, Franz Waxman, Bernard Herrmann, Elmer Bernstein, Henry Mancini, Maurice Jarre, John Barry, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Dave Grusin, Ennio Morricone, Randy Newman, Hans Zimmer, and Danny Elfman.

Updated and expanded to include scores produced well into the twenty-first century, this new edition of The Invisible Art of Film Music will appeal not only to scholars of cinema and musicologists but also any fan of film scores.
The second edition of this film history (1st ed., 1998) covers music scored for such films as Brokeback Mountain, Unbreakable, Sweeney Todd, Nine, and others released between 2000 and 2011. Biographical information about composers appears in sidebars, allowing the text to focus more on the history and details of the composers' film music. MacDonald offers an engaging study that presents important information about the history of film music. The book gives considerable attention to the three "godfather" Hollywood composers--Max Steiner, Dimitri Tiomkin, and Alfred Newman--but covers film composers, their scores, and their stylistic features for every decade. Composers such as Aaron Copland, whose output was mostly outside film scoring, are also included. Despite its title, however, much of the book is devoted to Hollywood film music. With its stronger analytic approach, Music and Cinema, edited by James Buhler, Caryl Flinn, and David Neumeyer, is geared more toward music majors. This volume will be useful for general readers interested in film music history and for undergraduates with no previous musical background. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and general readers.