Academic journal article Music, Sound and the Moving Image

Complete Guide to Film Scoring: The Art and Business of Writing Music for Movies and TV/Music for New Media: Composing for Videogames, Web Sites, Presentations and Other Interactive Media

Academic journal article Music, Sound and the Moving Image

Complete Guide to Film Scoring: The Art and Business of Writing Music for Movies and TV/Music for New Media: Composing for Videogames, Web Sites, Presentations and Other Interactive Media

Article excerpt

Richard Davis, Complete Guide to Film Scoring: The Art and Business of Writing Music for Movies and TV, (Boston: Berklee Press, 1999), 378pp.

Paul Hoffert, Music for New Media: Composing for Videogames, Web Sites, Presentations and other Interactive Media, (Boston: Berklee Press, 2007), 216pp. + CD-Rom

review by Karen Collins

Berklee Press is known for publishing trade books in the area of music instruction, based on the teaching curriculum of the Berklee College of Music, a well-known private college in Boston. As such, the press publishes instructional books aimed at undergraduate or college-level courses in music performance, composition, arranging, production, business and technology. Industry trade books fall into an awkward space in the world of academe: while they can often be useful for the production aspects of courses, they are nearly always sorely missing in any theoretical grounding. As such, they may find a place as useful supplementary texts, or offer a practical overview for academics writing theoretically about these areas. For instance, an academic who would like to write a paper about games music would be wise to obtain an understanding of some of the practical, technological and industrial constraints that must be dealt with by composers. In terms of production, these books can be useful texts for students who wish to enter into a production- based area post graduation. Whereas in the past composers had to learn compositional methods through trial and error or internship programs, today many can obtain an understanding of the business and practice through texts such as these. Under review here are two books intended as introductions to music for moving image courses: Richard Davis' Complete Guide to Film Scoring, focused on film music, and Paul Hoffert's Music for New Media, which focuses on video games.

Davis is a composer and Associate Professor at Berklee College. His book is divided into six basic component parts. The first section (consisting of six chapters) deals with a historical overview of the development of film music from 'silent films' through to today. With only four or five pages per chapter, though, the author inevitably skims over some key events in the development of film sound, rather loosely presenting the history. There is, for instance, no real discussion of sound design and its recent integration with music, and the coverage of technological innovations is superficial. While providing the novice with a general overview, then, the academic rigour needed for a university course (citations, complete details, important dates, for instance) is here lacking. Although his book is not comprehensive, Davis does manage to include many of the key innovators in twentieth-century film scoring, and very briefly to illustrate some of the important changes that have occurred in terms of technology and production over the last century.

The second section of the book deals with film production methods and practice. Here, the reader is given an overview of pre-production, production and post-production processes, scheduling, spotting and an introduction to the roles involved in production. These chapters are generalized and geared more towards high-end production, which is likely to be impractical for newcomers that might use this text, as the lowbudget model of film production and digitization of film varies considerably from what is presented here. Nevertheless, it introduces students to some of the basic terminology they can be expected to know at any level of production. The third section discusses methods for scoring music for different genres and modes of distribution, including television, animation, and so on. The chapter on syncing music to picture is unfortunately outdated, as most methods he describes are now done completely digitally - certainly for low-budget pictures. For instance, there is no discussion of common film/audio synchronization software like Final Cut Pro or Pro Tools here (nor is there any mention of low-end software or production methods). …

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