Reading on Film Music: “The Art of Film Music”

Another book on film music that is a good addition to any collection is The Art of Film Music by George Burt, published in 1994. The book focuses particularly on the film music of Hugo Friedhofer, Alex North, David Raksin and Leonard Rosenman.


What draws me to this text is Burt’s work in Chapter One “The Story’s the Thing” where he discusses the role and power that music possesses in a film. This includes how music has the power to create associations between certain images and concepts, as well as discussing that all important question “Should film music be heard?” It seems like an odd question to ask, but think about it: when you go to the movie theater and get engrossed in the story, are you actually, consciously, paying attention to the music? 9 times out of 10 the answer is no, and for good reason. If film music is done correctly, it should blend in seamlessly with the film and become essentially “invisible.”

Chapter Four analyzes sequences from The Best Years of Our Lives, East of Eden and a scene from Laura (with that memorable theme by Raksin). Chapter Six discusses the process of putting a film score together (a process that I’ve discussed in various Film Music 101 posts).

While the text is a little term-heavy and might be a hard read if you’re not familiar with certain musical terms, it’s still a good text to have if you’re studying film music, or if you’re just curious about how it works.

Have a great Tuesday! -Bex


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