Summer course syllabus

The syllabus below is designed for a five-week summer session during which 3-credit classes meet daily in 75 minute sessions. The syllabus is also available as a Word file here: download syllabus. I will post a sample of Exam 1 later. For now, a sample Exam 2 is available here:  download sample exam 2.

MUSIC S337: Music in Film Sound                                                    Second Summer 2009
 Unique # 00000      Meets daily 1:00-2:30 in [room]
Instructor: David Neumeyer
      MRH 3.748. ph. 471-7346. email:

Hours: TBA. If you need to meet with me at another time, ask for an appointment. The quickest way to reach me is by email, but voicemail is okay, too.



Our object in this course is to develop skills in analyzing the sound track, music's role in the sound track, and the relation of sound track and imagetrack (especially relating to music) on small-scale and large-scale (narrative) levels. The course develops critical listening and viewing skills at the same time it offers a survey of film-music history understood in the context of the history of sound technology. I will give a series of lectures at the beginning of the semester as a concentrated introduction to that history; we will spend the second half of the semester building on this information to refine skills in critical viewing through the analysis of films and film techniques as they relate to film-music's narrative functions.

Musical background or the formal study of film theory or history are not prerequisite. Skills from courses such as Introduction to Film, Music Appreciation, or Introduction to Music Theory can be helpful, but are not necessary for success in this course. The main requirement is a willingness to listen carefully and to articulate what you hear.



James Buhler, David Neumeyer, and Rob Deemer, Hearing The Movies: Music and Sound in Film History (Oxford University Press.)  Available at Coop East.


1. Readings and class participation. Because of the time constraints of this compressed semester, there are no assigned readings other than those identified above. I do not keep attendance, but you will find it impossible to pass the second exam, and therefore the course, without regular class attendance because the skills needed are taught primarily through our class examples and discussions. I also reserve the right to assign a failing grade to anyone whose attendance is obviously so poor that she or he has not contributed to the class. I define "obviously so poor" as "missing a week or more without clearing it with me first."

2. Pop quizzes in preparation for Exam 1. Three or four quizzes will be given near the beginning of class periods. The information and question format for these quizzes will reappear in Exam 1.  Answers will be given immediately after the quiz. The quizzes do not count toward the final grade.

3. Occasional notes written in class in response to a specific film clip and a music/sound problem. These will serve as the basis for class discussion.

4. EXAMS.  Exam 1 is on terms and other information from Part III of the textbook.    Exam 2 consists of analyses of two film scenes with music, using terminology and methods from Parts I & II of the textbook. A study guide will be posted for each exam several days in advance.     Each exam counts 50% toward the final grade.  I do not give exams on alternate dates -- if you can't attend on the two exam dates, please drop the class. The only exception is documented medical or family emergency.


SCHEDULE: Readings are subject to change by a day or two, depending on how much we cover in class.






JULY 13: Introduction. HtM, Preface, Introduction

14: Unit 1: Silent film practices. HtM, intro to Part III, ch. 10

15: transition to sound film. HtM, ch. 11

16: early musicals.

17: "golden era" practices. . HtM, ch. 12

20: 1950-1975: from stereo to Dolby. HtM, ch. 13

21: continued

22: 1975-2000: sound design to digital. HtM, ch. 14

23: continued

24: music and film sound today. HtM, ch. 15, Afterword

27: review for Exam 1.

28: Exam 1

29: Unit 2: Soundtrack analysis; music's narrative functions. HtM, intro to Part I, ch. 1

30: continued

31: Sound design and the sound track as music. HtM, ch. 2

AUGUST 3: sound, music and space. HtM, ch. 3

4: sound, music and time. HtM, ch. 4

5: film form and film style. HtM, intro to Part II, ch. 5

6: main title and end credits sequences. HtM, ch.6

7: performances and montage sequences. HtM, ch.7

10: music, themes, topics. HtM, ch.8


12: character and action scenes. HtM, ch.9

13: Review for Exam 2

14: Exam 2 in class

15, 17: final exam days. We do NOT have a final exam in this class.






Important Dates:

Week 1:

         Tuesday 14: Last day of the official add/drop period.

Thursday 16: Last day an undergraduate student may add a course except for rare and extenuating circumstances.

Week 2:

         Friday 24: Last day to drop a course without a possible academic penalty.

Week 3:

         Tuesday 28: Exam 1.  Terms, definitions, and concepts from the textboook, Part III.

Friday 31: Last day a student may change registration in a course to or from the pass/fail or credit/no credit basis.

Week 5:

Friday 14: Last class day: Exam 2. This exam tests skills in critical listening based on the textbook, Parts I & II; it is not a cumulative final exam.

Saturday 15, Monday 17: Final examinations for first-term courses. We do NOT have a cumulative final exam and the class will not meet at this time.

NOTICE: The University of Texas at Austin provides upon request appropriate academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-6441 TTY.

David Neumeyer,
Mar 7, 2009, 2:05 PM
David Neumeyer,
Mar 7, 2009, 2:01 PM