The University of Wisconsin Press

Film and Theatre / American Studies


Settling the Score
Music and the Classical Hollywood Film
Kathryn Kalinak

Wisconsin Studies in Film

"Music in film may seem incidental, but Kalinak shows its extreme importance as both 'articulator of screen expression and initiator of spectator response.' Who can forget the theme from Jaws, which turned a peaceful ocean scene into a threatening nightmare? . . . This major work on scoring goes a long way toward proving the importance of music in film."

Library Journal

"Settling the Score is intended for general readers with minimal technical musical and contemporary theoretical skills. [Kalinak's] goal is, in fact, to 'settle the score' between the cinematic visual and aural, to promote music as an equal partner to the visual. In order to do so she provides a brief but illuminating historical summary of sound and music in film. Kalinak's strongest sections include a detailed discussion of the differences between music for silent films and sound films, and analyses of several different stylistic approaches toward musical composition in the Classical Hollywood film."
—Bill Thornhill, Hitchcock Annual

Beginning with the earliest experiments in musical accompaniment carried out in the Edison Laboratories, Kathryn Kalinak uses archival material to outline the history of American music and film. Focusing on the scores of several key composers of the sound era, including Erich Wolfgang Korngold's Captain Blood, Max Steiner's The Informer, Bernard Herrmann's The Magnificent Ambersons, and David Raksin's Laura, Kalinak concludes that classical scoring conventions were designed to ensure the dominance of narrative exposition. Her analyses of contemporary work such as John Williams' The Empire Strikes Back and Basil Poledouris' RoboCop demonstrate how the traditions of the classical era continue to influence scoring practices today.

Kathryn Kalinak is professor of English and film studies at Rhode Island College and has published many articles on film sound.

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January 1992

LC: 92-06853 ML
256 pp. 6 x 9
29 illus. and 19 musical examples

Book icon Paper $24.95 x
ISBN 978-0-299-13364-1
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"A strong original contribution that manages to convey a great deal of information about film music to readers with relatively little knowledge of music. It is likely to be one of the small number of books on sound track issues that will be found on the shelves of anyone seriously interested in cinema."
—Alan Williams, Rutgers University

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