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Vassilakis, P.N. (2007a).  Interdisciplinary challenges and potential in film music course design.  Proceedings of the 8th Conference of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition: 63-64. C. Beckett and M. Hall, editors. Montreal, Canada: Concordia University.
[Invited Presentation - Symposium on Music in multimedia: Theoretical, empirical, and pedagogical perspectives.]

Film music research appears to be a scattered field, consisting of largely isolated efforts by researchers working within a wide variety of disciplines. The majority of work has been and is still being produced within the areas of music criticism, aesthetics, theory, composition, and history. The last two decades have seen a gradual development of an empirical body of work on image/sound and image/music relationships that draws from perceptual and cognitive literature and is steadily growing [review in Cohen, A. J. (2005). How music influences the interpretation of film and video. Selected Reports in Ethnomusicology, 12: 15-36]. Like most empirical research, this work focuses on the reliability end of the reliability/validity continuum and produces results whose broader relevance to film music making and listening is not easily communicated to and appreciated by non-empirical film music scholars. Non-empirical work on the topic, which has had a longer tradition, contributes important qualitative insights to the function, significance, and meaning construction and communication potential of film music. However, it does not approach the questions of interest in a manner systematic enough to support formulation of a rigorous film music theory.

University film music courses provide a unique context for productively addressing this diversity and an opportunity to construct a more coherent picture of the field, identify interdisciplinary trends, and allow the accomplishments from diverse approaches to inform one-another and benefit design of future film music cognition research. Currently, several University programs offer film music courses that explore the potential of this opportunity. The presentation will outline a film music course offered at DePaul University’s School of Music and nominated for the 2007 Greenhouse Exemplary Course Award (Blackboard User Community). It will discuss the challenges and potential of bridging empirical and phenomenological approaches to film music and examine how such bridging can benefit film music understanding in general and film music cognition research in particular.