Music and the Moving Image
Philip Tagg, Faculté de musique, Universitéde Montréal
Outline of module (‘MUSI 223’) developed at University of Liverpool (UK), 1993-2002,


MMI1 Timetable

Cover sheet for cue list/analysis
Module evaluation form

 General information for Music and the Moving Image, 1 [MUSI 223]

This module covers three main areas: [1] the functions of music for the moving image; [2] the history of film and TV music; [3] the aesthetics and semiotics of film music.

We listen to a lot of music and watch a fair amount of footage, discussing in some detail music's role in communicating "what the pictures can't say". In the historical section we cover the precursors to film music, music for the silent film, music for "classical" Hollywood movies, the widening of musical repertoire in post-war cinema, the advent of TV and its influences on music for the moving image. Timetable permitting, we usually end with a short survey of music video and music for computer games. We also cover basic cinematic terminology and discuss the technological aspects of music for the moving image.

The module is optional for all second- or third-year students in the Music Department and in the IPM (W300, W310, W330, MAs), as well as for Combined Honours students. It is a prerequisite for those wishing to take the more composition-orientated module Music and the Moving Image 2 (MUSI 224). Although advantageous, notational skills are not required of those following Music and the Moving Image 1 (this module). However, a keen interest in the subject and a good ear are essential.

By the end of this module students ought to have a much better understanding of how music works in conjunction with moving images. They ought to be able to approach composition with greater confidence and have enough knowledge to be able to work more efficiently and with greater confidence in other fields of musical or cinematic activity.

Go to top of document  Course materials for Music and the Moving Image, 1 [MUSI 223]

Written word | Recorded materials

Written word 

Students on this module are required to read all literature listed under Essential reading, below.
Other literature (recommended, not compulsory) is included (shown as bold type) in the accompanying film music bibliography.

All handouts for this module are available ONLY FROM THIS WEBSITE. I neither store, classify, administer nor distribute any hard copy.

Essential reading (MUSI 223)
All titles written and/or edited by P Tagg except where otherwise stated

Prendergast, Roy M (1977, 2nd ed. 1992). Film Music: a Neglected Art. The history and techniques of a new art form from silent films to the present day (268 pp.). New York: W W Norton. ISBN 0-393-00862-2.

Information,  introduction, assignments, instructions, etc. (MUSI 223)
NB. PDF files can only be accessed using Acrobat Reader

  Other reading (MUSI 223)

You should be well acquainted with the following two documents:

You should have studied the following repertoire documentation 
(see also recorded materials)

Texts about silent film elsewhere on the internet:

Materials relating to The Mission (Morricone 1986)

Extracts from Ernö Rapée's Motion Picture Moods for Pianists and Organists (New York, 1924)

  • Monotony (Chopin's 'Raindrop' Prelude, middle section in C#m and Grieg's ‘Bådenlåt’ from Lyrische Stücke)

 Recorded materials

Due to the restrictive practices of copyright law in this part of the world with reference to education and research, no audio or video materials can be centrally duplicated for the benefit of students on this or any other module. The course tutor's personal recorded audio repertoire collection of film music excerpts is, however,  available to MMI1 students for individual listening purposes. These recordings are accompanied by documentation of that repertoire.


Coursework, Assessment and Assignments
in Music and the Moving Image 1 (MUSI 223)

Coursework assignments count for 60%, the exam for 40% of assessment on this module.

Coursework is weighted as follows (totals 60%):

  • Silent film assignment (oral/written presentation) 9%
  • Cue spotting and analysis assignment: 40% (cue spotting 14%, analysis 14%, language and presentation 12%)
  • Attendance and participation: 11%

  • Exam in Music and the Moving Image 1 (MUSI 223)

    This three-hour examination is scheduled for some time (probably a Monday 1000-1300) in the second week of January.

    The exam counts for 40% of assessment in this module. Coursework counts for 60% of assessment.

    The exam consists of three questions. The questions are of the following type:

  • On-the-spot analysis (1 hour). You will be played a two short extracts on video from a film. You will be expected to write with insight about the structures and functions of music used in those extracts.
  • Series of questions requiring short answers. You will be tested on retention of factual knowledge about [i] functions of film music, [ii] history of film music (including topics covered in lectures and in the set literature).
  • Essay question. You will choose from one of two topics and write an essay discussing the relevant issue[s]. The topics offered will have been covered in teaching sessions and/or in course literature.
  • Question 1 counts for 34%, questions 2 and 3 for 33% each of the total maximum marks for the exam.