There is a very wide range of sounds and styles which people call music. Many cultures have their traditional music which can often have very restricted conventions, and their popular music which can be very free and improvisational. On mfiles we focus mainly on Western Classical and Film music, but even here there is an enormous range of styles, moods and cultural conventions. As a navigational aid, here we have collected together all the various music articles on mfiles, from reference texts to exploratory articles.
People like to classify things and music is no exception. What we often think of as "Classical" music is traditionally divided into a number of periods, which help to classify music by style, instruments used, the purpose it serves, the compositional techniques used by the composer, and the intended impact on the listener. Our article about Classical Music Periods describes the main periods as follows: Early, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern.
The 20th century was famous for plurality in many spheres. In music, it was the era of "isms": neoclassicism surrendering to serialism, vehemently opposed by popism which gave way to collage of "quote-ism", then minimalism – no one of them totally replacing the others but, more importantly, no one of them clearing a legitimate path where 21st century music was supposed to be going. Minimalism was popular largely because it clung to a steady pulse and it was doggedly tonal -- a relief to average listeners who were exhausted by the tuneless avant garde. But minimalism was no answer either – its looped spiral lines were a cul de sac with no exit. What we find now, twenty years into the New Millennium, is no single path, but instead a preference for pluralism - our best composers the world over, drawing on everything that's gone before: classical, romantic, serial, atonal, experimental, jazz, pop, ragas, dada... In The Pluralists: Six World Composers author John Caps looks at the work of six composers who all exhibit this Pluralism.
Historians often illustrate their subject using a timeline. This indicates the order of events, and helps people understand their relationships. Similarly musicologists can illustrate the position of different composers in the history of music by plotting their lives on a timeline. The Composer Timelines article presents a number of graphical images (or "infographics") which show the major composers for different musical periods - currently for the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Modern periods. Each composer (600+ in total) is listed together with links for more detail and examples of their music.
In his article The Black Composer in Films, John Caps examines the historic views and trends which have slowly resulted in more Black Composers finding a role in scoring mainstream films. His research shows that initially Black Composers were more likely to be considered for certain specialist film categories, for example where a jazz idiom was felt to be appropriate. Gradually over several decades this stereotypical view has been replaced with a more nuanced perspective, and hopefully we are headed for a place where a composer's colour (gender, or other classification) does not result in preconceived ideas of their musical talents.
The article Class of '67: Film Music 50 years ago stems from the growing realization that film scoring as a vital, practical craft, was and is in retreat or, more accurately, in a state of stasis. But rather than saying that current movie music pales by comparison to some 'golden age', the author John Caps wants to demonstrate this assessment by performing an actual comparison. Whatever soundtrack scoring may sound like in 2017, let us take a random year from the past - say fifty years back to 1967 - and audition its film music for comparison. It was a typical year of the period; nothing special -- typical movies and contemporary scoring that seemed to fit. Consider what film composers were doing back then -- at least some of the better ones. Then if we can identify what qualities they had, maybe we can more wisely mourn what we may be missing now.
Similarly the Film Music History is a summary of the main trends in film music. We look at the early emergence of Film Music, the classical background of composers first lured into the film industry, the use of newer idioms such as Jazz and Electronic Music. We list many of the key composers from the last century, the emergence of film music as an academic pursuit and the way film music has diversified into a range of different film genres. Finally we speculate on where music might be headed today.
One of our newer articles is the one looking at the History of Video Game Music. Though Game Music is the new kid on the block compared with Classical or even film music, it has quickly grown into a recognised art form, with its many fans and a number of games soundtracks being released on CD. The "Video Games Live" show which has been touring the world is essentially a concert of Video Game Music.
Electronic Music has been used by Classical and Film Composers for more than a Century. From its early experimental origins, Electronic Processing by Hardware Devices or Music Software has grown to become an essential part of the music business today. This article looks at some of the key electronic instruments, the people who developed them and the pioneers who used them in their music, from the concert hall to film soundtracks to popular music and its ubiquitous presence today.
Doctor Who is nearly 50 years old and a wealth of music has been written for the show, and its various spin-offs. We look at different aspects of the programme's music: the origins and evolution of its unique theme music, the very special sound effects, and the incidental music. Sometimes the music has been created using pioneering electronic techniques, sometimes by a small band, sometimes using synthesisers, and in its first decade the show's music sometimes came from music libraries. Eletronic music creation has evolved significantly since the show began but ironically now the music seems more orchestral than ever, though the electronic aspects are still there. This article looks in depth at all these aspects of The Music of Doctor Who.
There have been 24 James Bond films as well as a number of similar Spy thrillers on film and television. Music is an essential ingredient in what goes to make a successful Bond film and "Bond Music" has become a recognisable style which has often been parodied. Our article on The Music of James Bond looks at the origins of "James Bond sound" with principle composer John Barry in the driving seat, and the later composers who developed the sound as the film series evolved with the times. The article is also a convenient reference guide, and lists all the James Bond films, composers, songs, lyricists and singers.
If you include all the Television shows as well as the Feature Films, Star Trek arguably has had an even greater demand for music than James Bond and is correspondingly more diverse. Our Music of Star Trek article looks at all the Star Trek films and television series and those composers who have worked on them (including the themes and the incidental music), from the early formation of the "Star Trek" universe to its position now as a major franchise which regularly re-invents itself.
There were a total of 8 Harry Potter films telling the stories of the 7 Harry Potter books. Music is an important aspect of any film series, but the Harry Potter series had 4 different composers over 8 films. In our article on The Film Music of Harry Potter we look at the contributions of these 4 composers, examining their different approaches and how the music adapted to fit a long story line which lasted a decade in cinemas. Despite all these differences and challenges we look at the unifying principles which gave this body of music a single identity, creating an evolving soundtrack with a remarkable degree of consistency. We also provide links so that you con complete your Harry Potter music collection, and look at the range of piano sheet music available from the films.
The film director Alfred Hitchcock and the composer Bernard Herrman worked together on 9 films, and this pairing of two creative geniuses crafted some of the most memorable films of all time. Yet these two powerful personalities had a notoriously stormy relationship which ultimately led to the men falling out while working on the film "Torn Curtain". Alfred Hitchcock and Bernard Herrmann: Torn Curtain is an article by Steve Vertlieb which chronicles their life and work together, illustrated with photographs and posters from their film collaborations.
In Rescoring Scarface Laura Thomas volunteers as music supervisor for "Scarface". Scarface's original soundtrack falls short of the mark because it lacks a sense of connection to characters or depth in terms of meaning. A clear product of its era, the music is dated (being full of 80s synth sounds), but worst of all it seems to run alongside the narrative rather than intertwining itself within the action. With a great love for classic gangster movies such as "Goodfellas", "The Godfather", "Once Upon a Time in America" and "Carlito's Way" and the impact of their soundtracks, Laura sets about Rescoring Scarface.
The nature of music is something which has puzzled many people over the years. While there are still a lot of unanswered questions about music, our article entitled What is Music? explains some of the basics, and shows why certain aspects of music affect us in different ways. But don't worry: while this involves a number of different scientific disciplines, our explanations use plain English only.
Composer John Graham poses the question Is Film Music Great? and, in his quest to find an answer, encounters a number of prejudices which mean that film music has so far often been dismissed in academic circles in favour of the frequently unfathonable realm of "new music".
In the article Final on Vinyl? John Caps praises the fact that many film music albums previously release on vinyl are now readily available on CD (despite new forms now also widely used including downloads and streaming). However he laments the observation that some some vinal releases have still not seen the light of day on CD. Looking at British films only, Caps selects 4 highly-regarded vinyl albums that have not (yet) been re-released on CD. Perhaps one of the many boutique soundtrack record labels will take the hint and add these to their release schedule!
Amid all the hysteria about the error-prone 2017 oscar ceremony, John Caps takes a light-hearted look back at the eighty-plus year history of the Best Song Oscar. Its fashions and fads change just as often as the acceptance speeches, politics and jokes, but some aspects have been remarkably consistent over time as his article Oscar Sings - The History and Hysteria of Academy Award-winning Songs teases out. So does the best film song always win, and if not why not?
In his article Salvo Scores subtitled "Apprenticeship of Film Composers" John Caps identifies those film scores which mark a significant transition in the career of film composers, the film title that publicly jump-starts their careers even though they may have been scoring films for some time beforehand. Caps exams a number of candidate scores from a given composer and carefully considers which scores should be classified as a "salvo scores". Among the film composers that Caps investigates in this way are Alexandre Desplat, Michael Giacchino, John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Henry Mancini, Jonny Greenwood, Clint Mansell and Abel Korzeniowski.
John Caps calls his article Choral Quarrels as it tells of instances where composer and directors have had different opinions about the use of choral music in film scores. And usually the director has the final say! Whether to use voices in a film score is a question which is fraught with danger. It can draw too much attention to the music at the expense of the film, and this is something to be avoided. But when it is done right, it can work wonderfully. Caps provides plenty of examples of good and bad choral music in films.
Following on from our Film Music History and the article on "What is Music", we take a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the obvious Film Music Cliches which we all recognise. While we understand that these cliches can be thought of as a useful shortcut to achieve an effect, we also recognise that the skilled composer who is able to avoid them can be seen as original and different.
Music is usually taken seriously, but not always! In the article Humour in Music we look at the many different ways people can have fun with music. The article is full of examples - from classical music and film music to opera and popular songs, musical comedians and funny musicians, cartoons and puppets, turning duets into duels, playing around with musical styles, strange instruments and funny sounds. For all the examples given there are links to youtube videos, so you can have fun while you read the article.
As a partner to the above "Humour in Music", the article Horror in Music looks at music which has been written specifically to be scary and evoke scary topics. The examples come from classical music, (including orchestral, choral and even examples for solo instruments), film and television music and themes, operas, musicals and popular music. The article also considers some of the orchestral special effects used by composers for horror music. Again these examples come in the form of links to youtube videos, so you can hear the horrific music while you are reading about it.
Related to the topic of music in horror films, Tortured Souls: Gothic Music in Horror by Laura Thomson, looks at the use of Gothic music in Horror movies. The article compares and contrasts how gothic music is used to good effect in three specific but very different films: "The Crow", "Bride of Chucky" and "The Hunger". The films have a varied approach, with the inclusion of classical music, of traditional film score (by Graeme Revell in 2 of the 3 films), or incorporating existing tracks e.g. "Bela Lugosi's Dead" by Bauhaus in "The Hunger".
The Church has had a major influence on the historic development of music, from various styles of choral and instrumental music to the way we write music on paper. Even though the church's influence has declined, many well-known classical composers have written religious or church music. On mfiles we have arranged a number of Hymns, Christmas Carols and music associated with the church or religious occasions, and we also provide the sheet music and audio files for these.
In our history of music notation we look at some particular milestones in the evolution of music notation, including a number of examples of early written music and songs. We see some different systems of notating music and how our current form of representing music has developed substantially in the hands of the Church. We also look at different forms of notating or representing music for different instruments, and how the whole business of writing, typesetting and printing music has evolved with the advent of modern computers.
In Manuscripts, Pens and Composers, Jeffrey Dane gives us some iconic moments in the annals of Classical Music. Illustrated with many examples of original manuscripts and other documents, his article illuminates the history and helps to bring us closer to the great classical composers. From those manuscripts we can begin to understand the human character of the composers, their practical issues and their motivations. Those same manuscripts and the numerous alterations they contain can help to highlight the compositional process. In some cases perhaps the genius of these composers is indeed 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration!
Who is the Mystery Composer? In A Renaissance Man in France, author Jeffrey Dane presents us with a number of clues. This composer was French, he wrote a film score in 1907, he visited the United States of America on at least 2 occasions, playing a key solo instrument when one of his works was performed at Carnegie Hall, and meeting John Philip Sousa the famous composer of marches. He had a wide range of interests in the arts and sciences, in literature and in philosophy, in addition to his celebrated skills as a composer, and one of his most famous works was actually composed as a private joke for friends and colleagues which he never allowed it to be performed publicly during his lifetime.
In Dakota Chronicle, Jeffrey Dane recalls a visit to the home of Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein spent the last 16 years of his life staying at an apartment in a building dubbed the Dakota because of its then-isolated New York City location. The composer's apartment overlooked Central Park and, two and a half years after his death, an event supported by the composer's son Alexander Bernstein included an opportunity to visit the residence. The apartment contained many memorabilia associated with Bernstein including a 2-manual Dowd (Boston) harpsichordand an enormous Bösendorfer grand piano.
Jeffrey Dane explores the relationship between The Composer and God in this wide-ranging article. The church was at the centre of music development for many centuries before things started to change during the Romantic era. Yet it was never an abrupt transition. In many cases the beliefs of classical composers drove them to create or provided ideas for inspiration. Even composers such as Beethoven whose output was largely secular in nature, and whose iconic image is one of an artist lost in his own thoughts, was very much influenced by his beliefs and ideals. Even Liszt who is often thought of as the quintessential flamboyant celebrity of his age, with a lifestyle and reputation to match, turned to religion in later life. Dane introduces many more examples of composers and their relationship with God, and asks if these illustrate the concept of the "Divine Spark".
In If Brahms Had Lived... A Conjectural Obituary, Jeffrey Dane considers what might have happened if Brahms had lived for a further 15 years, and died in 1912 instead of 1897. Based partly on Brahms' known life, his character, his loves, his musical tendencies and his foibles, Dane marks out a career extension which might have been. The article is written as though an obituary looking back at the great composer's life, and indulges us in some "what if" speculation. If Brahms had lived another 15 years, he might well have visited Scandinavia and America, and he might well have written a very different 5th Symphony!
Funerals are a special occasion of remembrance for a loved one, often but not always associated with the church. Although musical tastes can vary, there are a number of pieces of music frequently used in such ceremonies. We survey a number of composers who have written or referenced funeral music, and provide a number of suggestions for this solemn occasion in the form of sheet music and audio files.
Remembrance Day is a day of remembrance held on the 11th November each year in several countries, although sometimes called Armistice Day or Veterans Day. Other countries have other events held on different days to similarly pay respect to those members of their armed forces who have died in wars and conflicts. The music used at such services is similar to that used at military funerals, but there are some particle pieces of music associated with Remembrance Day.
Bugle Calls are short simple pieces of music originally developed to give instructions to soldiers, sailors and cavalry men in the armed forces of a number of countries. Our article on Bugle Calls looks not just at the history of bugle calls, but how they have influenced Classical, Film and Popular music for at least two centuries. The article also provides sheet music, midi and mp3 files for many familiar and interesting bugle calls.
National Anthems are generally played and/or sung at formal State Occasions where the audience expresses its National Identity, and its allegiance to the country. They are also often played at International Sporting Events to help identify the nationality of participants, particularly to salute the nationality of the winner or winning team as they receive their medals or awards. Our article National Anthems and Patriotic Songs looks at the origins of several National Anthems and Patriotic Songs, and includes a variety of examples in the form of sheet music of piano arrangements, with midi files and mp3 files.
Weddings are another special occasion at the happier end of the scale, and again often (but not always) associated with religious ceremonies. Musical tastes for these events can vary considerably, but we look at some of the more traditional examples of Wedding Music by classical composers and some hymns. Again we give a variety of suggestions for suitable music, and where possible we include suitable sheet music and audio files which can be freely downloaded.
Christmas is another occasion with its origins in the church, though often these days Christmas is losing much of its original meaning. Nevertheless there are many traditional Christmas Carols which have become established favourites and we hear every Christmas. On mfiles we have a large selection of Christmas Carols including downloadable sheet music for various instruments, and including Midi and Mp3 fils. This selection includes many well-known favourite Carols, as well as some beautiful but less well-known examples.
This article looks at the traditions of Music Hall, its origin in tavern entertainment, its evolution in Victorian and Edwardian Britain with regional variations across the country and the way it changed during the War Years, its many memorable songs, the song-writers, the singers and the entertainers. We also look at the enduring legacy of Music Hall traditions, through variety stage shows and with the emergence of radio and television, and we also examine the influence of Music Hall on popular music and the emergence of music stars and celebrities. The article also includes a number of music hall songs with piano/vocal sheet music and lyrics, and also including our customary midi and mp3 files for download.
In many ways London has always been a vibrant city. When it comes to its Music Scene, London has always attracted some phenomenal acts and artists. Many of the capial city's venues (although some are sadly no longer) have hosted some celebrated singers, musicians and groups to suit all tastes, whether you're a head-banger, alternative rocker, mod, punk, indie, or anything in between. This article explores some of those venues to have hosted some historic music events with shows by The Who, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, Elton John, and The Rolling Stones. The article also highlights a number of famous locations and landmarks from Abbey Road to Battersea Power Station which have featured on album covers. And finally just a selection of songs which celebrate London through the years fromall sorts of different perspectives.
There's something magical about listening to classical music - both old and new. Rome provides the perfect backdrop and soundboard for renditions of these great music pieces, and newer classical music brought to the fore. Considering Italy's classical roots, in Rome's Classical Music Spots we look at some of the best places to enjoy classical music in Rome, from outdoor productions, to renowned academies of music. It's evident that there isn't a shortage of world-class classical music venues and performers in Rome, and Rome is indeed a champion of classical music.
Ragtime emerged as a musical form during the last decades of the 19th Century. In this article, we look at the key features of Ragtime Music, its history and its influences, and some of the key composers who made Ragtime an enormous popular success. In addition we provide a selection of downloadable sheet music and audio files for a number of Piano Rags by the composer Scott Joplin, who is widely considered to be the King of Ragtime Music.
Folk Music includes Folk Songs (with lyrics) and instrumental Folk Music (e.g. to accompany dancing). Folk Music is often distinguished by its Nationality, with different countries or people having their own cultural folk traditions. However there is a substantial interchange of ideas between countries, and many of the most popular folk songs are recognised in many parts of the world. In the past folk songs were frequently passed from generation to generation by way of oral traditionals, but increasingly printed song-books, recordings and other electronic media facilitate the communication of folk music.
Nursery Rhymes and Songs are a special kind of folk poems and songs. When children are still very young, their parents and family members sing nursery rhymes to them, and later such rhymes are among the first songs which children learn to sing. There is quite a wide variety of such songs, often telling a little story and including imaginative ideas, and often peppered with old-fashioned or nonsense words. The melodies of nursery songs are very simple in structure with short phrases often repeated or following well-defined patterns, and these features make them particularly easy to learn. The article includes many examples of children's songs with easy piano arrangements.
This reference article talks about the history of the Academy Awards (also known as the "Oscars") as they apply to Film Music. It includes a complete list dating from 1934 to the present, of the winners and nominees of the various music categories of the Academy Awards. Although the music categories have changed their names of the years, and the rules on eligibility have also changed, the main film music awards today are for the "Best Original Score" and "Best Original Song".
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2021 for films released in 2020.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2020 for films released in 2019.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2019 for films released in 2018.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2018 for films released in 2017.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2017 for films released in 2016.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2016 for films released in 2015.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2015 for films released in 2014.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2014 for films released in 2013.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2013 for films released in 2012.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards (Oscars), The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy "Oscars"). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2012 for films released in 2011.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2011 for films released in 2010.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2010 for films released in 2009.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2009 for films released in 2008.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2008 for films released in 2007.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2007 for films released in 2006.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2006 for films released in 2005.
This page looks at the major awards for a single year, specifically the Academy Awards, The Golden Globes and the BAFTAs (the British Academy). Here we list the winners and nominees for the music categories in 2005 for films released in 2004.