Film Music Review

For this week’s assignment, I am asking you to watch the Hitchcock classic Psycho (1960) and do a film music review.  I would encourage you to watch the film at least once and jotting down your thoughts before watching the Goodall clip posted below.  While watching and writing, please consider these questions as well. 1.  Hitchcock was known to have given detailed notes about the soundscape of his films to the composers.  His notes for Psycho can be found here.  Herrmann made some notable deviations from these suggestions (notice Hitchcock suggested no music for “the shower scene”.  In fact, other notes from the production indicate that he wanted the only sounds in that scene to be the water, the sounds of the knife blows, and Marion’s screams.)  How do you think those deviations affected the effectiveness of the score? 2.  The musical approach here is in stark contrast to the classical style we have been discussing in recent weeks.  Two significant differences are the sparsity of the music and the fact that it uses only the string orchestra rather than a full orchestra.  How do these differences make the score more or less effective in conveying the mood of the film? 3.  One of Goodall’s points is that all the music in this film is derived from the opening theme music, which is heard repeatedly through the film.  What, in YOUR opinion, does this opening theme suggest?  To carry the parallel through, how does that mood/emotion/state play out through the film? 4.  Hitchcock suggested a frantic jazz-oriented soundtrack for Psycho.  Do you think that would have changed the character of the film from what it was with Herrmann’s string-based soundtrack? As an alternative to Psycho, you may watch and do a film music review for North by Northwest.  I would encourage you to watch the film at least once and jot down your thoughts before reading this  (Links to an external site.)  brief essay.  While watching and writing, please consider these questions as well. 1.  The musical approach here is in stark contrast to the classical style we have been discussing in recent weeks, mostly in the sparse nature of the music.  How does this make the score more or less effective in conveying the mood of the film? 2.  One of Goodall’s points is that all the music in Psycho is derived from the opening theme music, which is heard repeatedly through the film.  What, in YOUR opinion, does the opening theme for NBN suggest?  Does he use the same technique in this film? Your grade will be based on the following: 10–coverage of the music of the ENTIRE film 15–consideration of the additional questions 7–presentation of your own thoughts and opinions 3–proofreading, grammar, syntax, spelling, etc. Please consider these outside opinions when writing, but do not take them as being “the” right answer on this music.  I know what they think; I want to hear what you think.  Feel free to disagree with them.

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