Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bazelon, Irwin. Knowing the Score: Notes on Film Music. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1975.

Film score composers are often required to compose forty minutes worth of music in several weeks time, necessitating the use of previously invented music or the liberal borrowing of others' previously written music. The fragmented form of film music often discourages developed themes on large compositional canvases, but calls for the use of "mere snatches of music." Using the widely understood extramusical associations of previously written music, the first film score composers often borrowed easily recognizable music, conveying meaning quickly to early moviegoers. The "Bridal Chorus" from Wagner's Lohengrin was used to seal holy matrimony, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata for moonlit nights and calm waters, and Rossini's William Tell Overture to underscore Western cowboy heroics, creating a language of musical cliché for generations of film score composers to come. With all art, both serious and popular, becoming an amusement commodity for leisure-time activity, the film industry has absorbed the materials of traditional art in order to imbue its product with all the outer trappings of genuine culture.

Works: Stanley Kubrick: compilation score to 2001: A Space Odyssey; Wendy (Walter) Carlos: score to A Clockwork Orange (35); Leonard Rosenman: score to Fantastic Voyage (39); Ezra Laderman: score to The Eleanor Roosevelt Story (38); Elmer Bernstein: score to The Magnificent Seven (75); Lalo Schifrin: score to Cool Hand Luke (75); Toru Takemitsu: score to Woman in the Dunes (78); Hanns Eisler: score to Hangmen Also Die (84).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Kathleen Widden

Except where otherwise noted, this website is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
Creative Commons Attribution License