Full course description
This course will explore compelling creative ventures in music for the screen with a view to prising out their most outstanding audio-visual elements and styles. This will begin with a sweep of distinctive, signature soundtracks in the output of trailblazing directorial behemoths like Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorsese, before moving towards themes of specific interest including dance, embodied cinema, and the work of popular musicians on screen.
We’ll investigate some of cinema’s most spectacular dance extravaganzas in films like The Red Shoes (1948), Black Swan (2010), and Suspiria (1977; 2018), whose scores affirm both life and death, artfully merging the sensual with the deadly, and vividly demonstrating the hefty cost of engaging in artistic practice. We’ll examine the evocative, high-art drama of iconic operatic performances in The Godfather trilogy (1972, 1974 & 1990), Pretty Woman (1990), and The Shawshank Redemption (1994), which foreground music as a crucial element of narrative development. We’ll continue by assessing the cliché-defying output of noteworthy composers with a background in popular music, including Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Stewart Copeland from The Police, who have adapted memorable musical techniques and aesthetics in films like Rumble Fish (1983), Phantom Thread (2017), and Spencer (2021).
Following this, we’ll segue into the emergent theme of sounding the body on screen, and the application of visceral, multisensory compositional styles in films like There Will Be Blood(2007), and Under the Skin (2013). Finally, we’ll delve into the too-often overlooked area of women’s music for screen, and the contributions of composers like Lisa Gerrard, Mica Levi, and Hildur Guðnadóttir in Gladiator (2000), Jackie (2016), and Joker (2019), whose scores do sonic justice to the depth and complexity of featured characters.
We’ll bring the course to a close with a final lecture teasing out important audio-visual aspects of screen media moments selected by attendees–from film, television or music video–as a means of demonstrating how we can engage in a more active and insightful way with the on-screen sources we encounter.
No specialist knowledge of cinema, music, or sound is required for participation in this course, which is purposefully intended to have a broad and general appeal. I warmly welcome any member of the public who may wish to delve further into this especially compelling domain.
One weekly lecture on Monday evenings from 7-9pm, 26 September to 7 November
Location- Western Gateway Building Room G13, UCC
Breakdown of lectures;
Week 1: The Signature Soundtracks of Directorial Titans
Week 2: Red Shoes & Black Swans: Sounding Cinema’s Ecstatic and Deadly Dance Steps
Week 3: A Night at the On-Screen Opera
Week 4: Rumbling Fish & Phantom Threads: Popular Musicians & The Film Score
Week 5: The Score Keeps the Body: Colour and Chiaroscuro in Embodied Soundtrack Styles
Week 6: Femininity in Flux: Women’s Music for Screen
Week 7(optional): Open Forum: Exploring Stand-Out Screen-Music Moments Selected by Course Attendees
Caitríona Walsh (BAP, BMus, MMus, PhD) is an educator and writer who has extensive experience working with a diverse cohort of students. Drawing on her background in music and psychology, her teaching emphasises integrative and embodied creative practices. Her writing has featured in the Irish popular press and in such publications as Music and the Moving Image and Women’s Music for the Screen: Diverse Narratives in Sound, and explores themes of corporeality, femininity, and musical innovation.