Ever since I (a) discovered that I could access the journal ‘Music, Sound and the Moving Image‘ and (b) sat glued to Neil Brand’s awesomely fantastic three-part BBC Four series on ‘The Sound of Cinema‘ last Autumn I’ve wanted to ‘do a course’ in film music. I didn’t sign up for the Birkbeck course which would have started in January 2014 as it appeared to cost £1,000 (which seems a wee bit offputting) and then they cancelled it. I’ve not found a similar one on their website so haven’t included them in my investigations.

You may know of a course that I’ve not found, in which case, please let me know. I’ve ignored ‘composing for film’ courses (there are two courses at Morley and, somewhat oddly, they don’t require you to have any musical composition ability but do want you to be competent at file management) as they’re quite different, this post is just about film music appreciation.

By the way there’s a film music (and related stuff) conference coming up in Leeds in a couple of weeks, sadly I can’t go (wail) because it clashes with with big annual work meeting – but if you’re free: Music for Audio-visual media (4-6 September 2014) which is organised by people who’ve got a grant of almost half a million pounds from one of the research councils to study the professional career and output of film composer Trevor Jones. I like the way they think.

Here’s what I’ve found, thanks to searching Hotcourses.co.uk for film music.


Bishopsgate Institute (London)

Study Day: Film Music
22 November 2014 (Saturday), £61/£46, 10.30 – 4.30pm, AC15118
Course outline (PDF) | Hotcourses page

Overall aim of course and course content:
Anyone who enjoys films will know how important music is to popular cinema, whether we’re hearing the stirring themes composed by John Williams or the ingenious sonic effects of Jerry Goldsmith. But how does film music actually work? How does it get put together? What is it really there for? How do composers and directors collaborate to create the best possible experience for audiences? This course will look at all these questions and more, using plenty of audio and video examples.
By the end of this course, you will be able to:

  • understand and recognise some of the techniques involved in creating music for films
  • identify some of the ways in which musical ideas can work with visual ideas and
  • understand how both big themes and background music contribute to film narrative

City Lit (London)

Introduction to Film Music
2 October 2014 (Thursday) to 30 October , £90/£72/£55, 5 weeks part-time on Thursdays – MD028
24 March 2015 (Tuesday) to 21 April, £90/£72/£55, 5 weeks part-time on Tuesdays – MD029
City Lit’s page | Hotcourses page

What is the course about?
Are you interested in the role of music in film? Would you like to know more about how it produces certain emotions? This course introduces learners to the ways in which music and image work together to produce feeling. We will watch a wide variety of films and analyse the music in detail. Learners will gain greater knowledge of both key works of music written for film, and some technical knowledge of music more generally.
What topics will we cover?

– What is the role of music in film?
– How has film music developed in the 20th and 21st centuries?
– Focus on some key works, exploring techniques used by the composer
– Some general explanation of technical aspects of music.

By the end of this course you should be able to:
– Explain some key ways that music produces particular emotions in the audience
– Describe key movements and name important composers of music for film
– Describe your own reactions to key works
– Explain some key technical musical terms.

Morley College (London)

Music in Time: History of Film Music
17 September 2014 (Wednesday) to 10 December 2014, £135/£115/£95, 12 weeks on Wednesdays, 2pm-4pm, day time – MHL035A
Morley’s page | Hotcourses page

Course outline
Study the fascinating history of music written for the screen, from the live accompaniments for silent movies, the early ‘talkies’ and the great movie musicals through to the blockbusters of today. The course will cover issues of compositional style, studio technology and the film industry in Hollywood and beyond.

By the end of the course you should be able to:

  • Show an understanding of the overall history of film music
  • Identify the different styles of film music and place them in their historical contexts
  • Understand the relationship between film music and other forms of 20th-century composition
  • Recognise the role played by music in the narrative structure of films

Workers Educational Association (WEA) (Norwich and Cambridge)

Film and Film music
14 April 2015 (Tuesday) to 26 May 2015, £44.80, 7 weeks on Tuesdays, 10am-noon, part-time day – C2221207 [Cambs]
6 January 2015 (Tuesday) to 7 March 2015, £48, 6 weeks on Tuesdays, 10am-noon, part-time day – C2221577 [Nwch]
WEA page for Cambridge (Cottenham) and Norwich (Attleborough) course, Course outline (doc) | Hotcourses page

Course aims and description
Do you love cinema and especially film music?  If so you should enjoy this course. You will engage with a wide range of different kinds of films, developing skills of observation, critical analysis and personal reflection on how sound and in particular music is employed to underscore and make meaning in film. You will also learn about some of the techniques employed by film composers and directors.

A course which explores the role of music in film, with reference to key composers such as Ennio Morricone, Bernard Herrmann and John Barry. This is an appreciation course but will be anchored in the study of film and technique.

You will develop skills in Micro analysis of Film pertaining to the use of sound. Extracts from films demonstrating particularly memorable and imaginative uses of music will be examined and discussed. The course will focus on how music has been used to heighten the experience of film in the genre – some examples will include Horror/Thriller films and the unique use of music in particular film genres. We will look at the work of several important Film Music composers including Ennio Morricone and John Barry. The course will also cover an overview of the History of Film Music.

By the end of the course, students should be able to:
1. De-construct and analyse a film sequence using technical language in micro detail with particular reference to sound.
2. Examine the work of some major film music composers.
3. Evaluate the ingenuity of the integration of music and drama in creating film texts.
4. Produce a storyboard and or step outline or film script of your own with a soundtrack.
5. Critically analyse how the Film Music industry works, and  the mechanism of the support of the Fan base.