Midterm 1 Essays
1) Describe the three basic types of music heard in original scores during the silent film era and cites specific examples from The Birth of a Nation. (10 points)
The film Birth of a Nation used the three basic types of music heard during the silent film era, which were adaptations, arrangement, and newly composed. Adaptations borrow a complete passage from another source and usually accompany large action scene. The composer Breil used Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie to underscore the ride of the KKK. An arrangement borrows a melody of a well-known source which is used to arouse emotions and set moods. For example, the film used Southern tunes to express stirring patriotism for the South. Lastly, Birth of a Nation had a newly composed score such as the creation of numerous leitmotifs that reinforce Griffith’s characterizations.
2) What is the role of source music in Casablanca? (10 points)
Source music plays a critical role in the movie Casablanca. The role of source music was to create an atmosphere of superficiality that covers Rick’s Café. Rick would barricade himself in this superficial world, and the absence of underscoring reflects his lack of emotion until Ilsa comes in. Source music was used to differentiate Ricks Café with its rival The Blue Parrot. Rick’s Café was identified as American because it played American popular music while the Blue Parrot played Arabian music. Lastly source music is used as a singing competition between the Germans who sing “Die Wacht am Reihn” and the French who sing “Marseillaise”. The French tune eventually overwhelms the German creating stirring scene and leading to Major Strasser conclusion that Laszlo must die.
3) The music for Gone with the Wind is the paradigm of the Classic Hollywood film score, and the music for Citizen Kane represents, like the film as a whole, a departure. Describe the basic characteristics of the Classic Hollywood film score using Gone with the Wind and other...
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