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Morphology of the score: the organisation of music in the films of Michael Giacchino and Pixar Animation Studios

Simmons, A. (2020). Morphology of the score: the organisation of music in the films of Michael Giacchino and Pixar Animation Studios. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


Film music analyses routinely focus on unique aspects of individual films rather than the scoring strategies common to many. Consequently, film music has been described as ‘antiformalistic’ with ‘no formal expectations’ suggesting that each score is formally unique. However, it is widely accepted that Hollywood films are generally structured around a small number of common narrative frameworks. This thesis proposes an original method for graphically realising the temporal placement of film music’s component parts as they relate to an underlying narrative structure, allowing the music to be discussed at the level of the entire film without abstracting it from its narrative context. The Film Music Organisation method introduced in this thesis uses transferrable terminologies and proportional values to enable and encourage a corpus analysis of multiple films and their soundtracks. The research addresses two key questions: 1) How does a film’s musical form relate to its narrative form? and 2) Are there trends in the organisation of film music that occur in multiple films?

Using a selection of short and feature-length films by Pixar Animation Studios, with a focus on the music of Michael Giacchino, I demonstrate how through occurrence, variation, absence and reoccurrence at several levels, film music can be organised by a common narrative strategy. The study introduces several new terminologies and methods that contribute to the ongoing cross-fertilisation of screen music studies and narratology.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Andrew Simmons - Morphology of the Score.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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