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Film Music Books

This is merely a selected listing of some film music books. Locate them at your local bookstore or library, or send away to the publisher. Many can be found at the Samuel French Theater & Film Bookshop (7623 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90046; ph: 213-876-0570), write/call for catalog.

American Film Music, Major Composers, Techniques, Trends, 1915-1990, by William Darby and Jack Du Bois. Published by McFarland Co, Jefferson, NC, ISBN 0-89950-468-X. Has major sections on numerous composers, from Max Steiner to John Williams, with filmographies afterwards; available from the publisher for $57 (includes shipping). Send to: McFarland Co, PO Box 611, Jefferson, NC 28640.

The Composer in Hollywood, by Christopher Palmer, published by Marion Boyars, distributed by Rizolli International, ISBN 0-7145-2885-4. This book covers the Golden Age to Rosenman.

Dimitri Tiomkin: A Portrait, by Christopher Palmer, published by T.E. Books, London, 144 pages. Covers the composer's career, profusely illustrated.

Film Score: The Art and Craft of Movie Music, ISBN 1-880756-01-3, is available for $19.95 + $3 shipping from Riverwood Press, 1118 W. Magnolia A-303, Burbank CA 91506, send check or money order. 320 pages long and written by Tony Thomas, it is an expanded and revised edition of Thomas' Film Score: A View from the Podium. It is an extensive collection of comments from 25 film composers, with a biographical profile and filmography for each.

A Heart At Fire's Center, The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann, by Steven C. Smith, University of California Press, 1991, 415 pages. A terrific book that concentrates on Herrmann's professional life, this paints a fascinating portrait of the incorrigible man who is shown to have a sensitive side underneath—and an amazing knack for scoring movies. Call 1-800-UC-BOOKS to order, price is around $20 (hardcover only). Get it while it's still available!

Knowing the Score, by Irwin Bazelon, focuses on the effects of music in the movies, with many interviews. Portions of scores are analyzed and printed.

Listening to Movies, by Fred Karlin, Schirmer Books, Macmillan Publishing, 866 Third Ave, New York NY 10022, 1-800-323-7445, ISBN 0-02-873315-0, $35, 1994, 400 pages. This is aimed at the film music newcomer but is sure to have info not even die-hard collectors know. Major sections focus on how scores are composed and recorded, how to get more out of "listening to movies" (with cue sheets and in-depth looks at eight classic scores), and how the business is run, both in the past and present. Also has chapters on the Oscars, a chronology of film music, mini-filmographies/biographies (with many photos), a cross-reference of what films were scored by whom, a film music bibliography and lists of soundtrack shops. There are great quotes and anecdotes throughout—in many ways, it's like this "handbook" on an incredibly large scale.

Music from the House of Hammer by Randall Larson (Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-2975-4, cloth, 194 pages) chronicles the films, scores and composers of Britain's legendary Hammer Films studios. Also by Larson, Musique Fantastique is a 1985 book dealing the use of scores in horror, SF and fantasy films, covering the 1930's to the 1980's, with chapters on Herrmann, Goldsmith, Rózsa, Japanese monster movies, and Hammer horror movies. Contains filmographies/discographies.

No Minor Chords, by Andre Previn, Doubleday (148 pages)—the composer reminiscing on his career.

On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring, by Fred Karlin and Rayburn Wright, ISBN 0-02-873310-X, published by Schirmer Books is a sensational 856 page book that should be required reading for anyone seeking to be a film composer. Quite technical at times, it covers all aspects of the business, including excerpts of scores and a complete click track book by Alexander R. Brinkman. Included are numerous interview excerpts. The book costs $60 (worth every penny!) and is available from the publisher, call Schirmer's Customer Service, 1-800-323-7445 (overseas, call 201-967-5810).

Overtones and Undertones: Reading Film Music is a study of the aesthetics of film music by Royal S. Brown, columnist for Fanfare, probing of the relationships between music and image. Call the publisher, the University of California Press, at 1-800-222-6657.

Television's Biggest Hits by Jon Burlingame is a history of prime time TV music, covering all eras and genres with great detail. The television themes and scores of Herrmann, Schifrin, Goldsmith, Williams, Stevens, Mancini, Bernstein, Steiner, and dozens of other well-known composers are documented. Highly recommended.

The Samuel French Bookshop is recommended for finding these and other books. In addition to the books listed here, Samuel French has at various times listed in their catalogs: 1) Hans Eisler: A Rebel in Music. 2) Soundtrack: The Music of the Movies. 3) Music On Demand: Composers and Careers in the Hollywood Film Industry. 4) Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music. 5) Film, TV, and Stage Music on Phonograph Record: A Discography. 6) Bernard Herrmann: Film Music and Narrative. 7) Film Music: From Violins to Video. 8) Keeping Score: Film Music 1972-79. 9) Jazz in the Movies. 10) Film Music: A Neglected Art. 11) Double Life: The Autobiography of Miklós Rózsa.

Previous Handbook Page

Please note: We discontinued updating this "Handbook" several years ago, and various information may have changed. For more up-to-date listings, see the applicable sections on this site (links, books, etc.). Thank you!

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