Contributed by Jenny Stockdale on 02/05/2013
Theory, History and Composition Professor Peter Rothbart recently received publication of his book "The Synergy of Film and Music: Sight and Sound in Five Hollywood Films" by Scarecrow Press, one of the largest and fastest-growing independent publishers and distributors in North America.
In the book, Rothbart considers the aural and visual aspects of five representative films: West Side Story, Psycho, Empire of the Sun, Altered States, and American Beauty. For each film, he demonstrates how a variety of elements work together to create a singular experience.
After reviewing the various roles that music can serve in a film, as well as providing an overview of the film scoring process, Rothbart looks at each film, examining them one musical cue at a time, so the reader can watch the film while reading about each cue. In these analyses, timecode markings from commercial DVDs are provided in the margins alongside the text, which allow the reader to correlate the on-screen drama to the second. Rothbart explains how music is used in a specific cue and why the decision was made to use that particular musical idea at that moment.
Consequently, film music aficionados—as well as students and composers of film music—can gain real-world perspective of how music is used in conjunction with other elements. In this way, Rothbart raises awareness of music’s relationship to virtually every other aspect of cinema—dialogue, sound effects, costuming, set design, and cinematography—to deepen the viewer’s experience.
Written in a deliberately nontechnical way, this book is intended for anyone interested in film to easily follow along. At the same time, the information can benefit professional filmmakers or composers because they can see with great detail how each cue unfolds along with all of the visual elements of the film. This unique analysis makes The Synergy of Film and Music a fascinating and instructive volume that both casual viewers and students of cinema will appreciate.
At IC, Rothbart teaches courses in electroacoustic composition and film music. In addition to writing music for numerous films and theatrical productions, he has composed works that have been performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.
Adding to his list of published works, Rothbart's paper "Ethno-Electro – A Framework for Examining Cultural Influences In Electroacoustic Music," was published online last November. It was part of the Proceedings of the Electroacoustic Music Studies Network's 2012 International Conference. He presented the paper at the conference in Stockholm, Sweden this past June.
He also just composed the music for the Reader's Theatre of Ithaca's recent run of Neil Labute's "The Mercy Seat."