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Required reading for my Composition Theory module at university, Brown's dense but articulate treatise on the evolution and power of music in the cinematic medium covers its birth through to the 1980s, stopping off for several in-depth case studies along the way.
While Brown frequently spends more time analysing the films and their score from the literary critical theory standpoint which may put off those with less experience of such examination (unlike, say, Chion's more accessible Audio-Vision), he still remains eminently readable, largely down to his willingness to step through complex musical sequences and the imagery that accompanies them at a reasonable pace.
Perhaps not a holiday read for the layman, Overtones and Undertones is nevertheless an excellent book for those looking for a deeper understanding of the often underappreciated part of the cinematic experience. With a hefty bibliography for further reading and some excellent interviews with the finest composers of cinema, it makes quite a complete package.
I purchased this book for a class and continued to read it independently. It details the American and foreign film music of classic films and some little known gems. The author discusses the major melodic themes of the films as well as some of the hidden melodic melodies that enhance the quality of the film. A long list of film and their works composers is a useful guide.
This book is one of the most intellectual and in-depth books on specific films I've read. It's focus is mostly on older movies (The Sea Hawk, Double Indemnity), but also extensively explores French film, particularly, Jean-Luc Godard. The Interviews at the back of the book are with some of the greatest film composers, alive and dead, including: Miklos Rozsa, David Raksin, Bernard Herrmann, Mancini, John Barry and Howard Shore. A must for any film music fan or composer!
I'm just getting started learning about film music with Royal and I've got to say that it has been very productive. I've learned a lot more in a few weeks than I expected I would. A must read for anyone who wants to start talking about film music like they know something.