Cal Poly SLO - Department of Music

Course Information - Music 324 (History of Film Music) - Fall 2014


Professor: Dr. Alyson McLamore                                                                                    Office Phone: 756-2612

Office:  132 Davidson Music Center                                                                                                                     

Email:                                                            Web Site:


Office Hours: Tues 11-12; Wed 1-3; Thurs 12-1; other times by appointment—just ask!


Course Description: Music 324: History of Film is a G.E. C.4 (WRITING INTENSIVE) survey course for all upper-division students that examines the history and masterworks of music for films, beginning with the birth of the genre and continuing to the present day. (For the C.4 Learning Objectives, please see Special focus will be given to developing an analytic vocabulary for musical elements, music's function within films, and for the technology of film-making. The course consists of lecture/discussions, guided and independent listening/film-viewing, written assignments, and periodic examinations. It is NOT necessary to read music in this class—but it is essential to come to class and to do the reading assignments to earn a good grade.




      The Textbook is Roger Hickman's Reel Music: Exploring 100 Years of Film Music, W. W. Norton, 2006.  Please bring your book with you every day, and please do your reading before each class.


      The Course Reader, which will be found in PolyLearn AND at the course website:  (you will receive the password in class). 

      Please PRINT OUT and BRING the reader with you to class EVERY day.  It contains guidelines for the assignments, a glossary, helpful tips, and many other wonderful and exciting things.


You will be given loaner cds from the Music Department, to be returned at the end of the quarter. Set up regular listening times in your weekly schedule, and listen often!  The individual tracks of the Recordings are listed in the Course Reader.


Prerequisites: completion of Area A and a foundation course in Area C.


Course Requirements (Please note: the percentages are calculated using the letter grades earned, not points;  “the points don’t matter.”  An “A” is calculated as 4.0, an A- is 3.7, a B+ is 3.3, and so forth): 


I. Two Midterms (20% each), on Oct. 16 and Nov. 6.  You will need an 882 Scantron for each.


II. Two Analysis Assignments.  Guidelines and forms are in the course reader. 

      Viewer Guide Function Analysis is due October 23 (10%)

      Featured Film Function & Musical Analysis is due November 25 (20%)


III. A Final, on Dec. 9 (30% of the grade).  Again, bring an 882 Scantron form (and return the CDs)


IV. Set Your Alarm.  A large portion of the material for which you are responsible will come out of the class lectures.  It is impossible for you to 'hear' music and 'see' videos we covered when you review someone else's notes, so regular attendance is essential! 

            Moreover, you need to be completely present “mentally,” so NO CELL PHONE USE during class; laptops, tablets, etc., can be used only with permission, and you must agree to leave their wireless access disabled. If you do not wish to comply with this expectation, PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS CLASS. 

            NOTE: If you are going to be away from campus for two or more class meetings (attending conferences, etc.), this course is not recommended for you.


V. All course requirements must be completed in order to receive a passing grade; all assignments should be completed independently. This includes developing the cue-sheets for each paper, bibliographic citations, etc. In short: DON’T SHARE YOUR WORK!!  (Please see the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities website for Cal Poly’s guidelines concerning Academic Dishonesty:



Music 324 - History of Film Music - Course Outline - Fall 2014


                                                                                                                                              Reading Assignments

Week 1    Sept. 23   1-Tues.      The Tools of Music                                               Ch. 3; Reader pp. 7, 16-19, 24

                 Sept. 25   2-Thurs.    The Tools of Music                                                                                  Ch. 1, 2


Week 2    Sept. 30   3-Tues.      Functions of Film Scoring                                                     Ch. 4; Reader p. 14 

                 Oct. 2       4-Thurs.    Functions of Film Scoring                                                             Reader pp. 22


Week 3    Oct. 7       5-Tues.      Functions of Film Scoring

                 Oct. 9       6-Thurs.    Functions of Film Scoring; Sample Quiz (ungraded)     Reader pp. 15-19, 21


Week 4    Oct. 14     7-Tues.      Functions of Film Scoring

                 Oct. 16     8-Thurs.    Exam I


Week 5    Oct. 21     9-Tues.      Film / Film Music Operations                                                         Reader p. 25

                 Oct. 23     10-Thurs.  Film / Film Music Operations; "Silent" Films; Viewer Guide               Ch. 5-8

                                                      Function Analysis Due


Week 6    Oct. 28     11-Tues.    "Silent" Films; Birth of Talkies                     Ch. 9; Reader pp. 15-16, 20, 26-28   

                 Oct. 30     12-Thurs.  Talkies; Rise of the Symphonic Film Score                                          Ch. 10, 11


Week 7    Nov. 4      13-Tues.    Symphonic Film Scores and the International Film World                                

                 Nov. 6      14-Thurs.  Exam II


Week 8    Nov. 11    15-Tues.    [No Class Meeting - Veteran’s Day Holiday]

                 Nov. 13    16-Thurs. “1939”                                                                               Ch. 12; Reader p. 29


Week 9    Nov. 18    17-Tues.    The Golden Age                                                                  Ch. 13; Reader p. 21

                 Nov. 20    18-Thurs.  Styles and Genres: Film Noir                                                              Ch. 15, 17


Week 10  Nov. 25    19-Tues.    Styles and Genres: Thriller/Suspense/Horror; Featured Film    Ch. 18, 21, 22

                                                      Analysis due

                 Nov. 27    20-Thurs.  [No Class Meeting - Thanksgiving Holiday]                                                    


Week 11  Dec. 2      21-Tues.    Styles and Genres: Western                                    Ch. 25, 29, 30; Reader p. 30

                 Dec. 4      22-Thurs.  Beginnings and Endings                                                                Ch. 31, 32, 34


Finals       Dec. 9      F-Tues.      Final – 4:10 PM - 7:00 PM  (Please bring back your Loaner CDs)