Teaching at ND

Well well. The semester has flown by. I had intended to write this blog at the beginning of my semester at University of Notre Dame Australia back in February, but was busy getting new course materials together. Around March-April I thought to myself “oh I must get onto that teaching blog…..”…then came the exams, and before you know it, here we are – semester is over, it’s term holidays now and I haven’t done this teaching blog yet. Anyways, this is us:

I have really enjoyed building and teaching the brand-spanking-new Music in Media class. The course is designed for non-musicians – we begin by studying the building blocks of music itself – rhythm, melody, harmony etc, before diving into film music, which makes up the majority of the 13 week unit.

I did my best to cover a cross section of the great movie composers of the last century – but of course, with only limited time, several big names had to be left out. That said we did look at examples from the ‘golden era’ of Hollywood – Erich Korngold, Max Steiner, Bernard Herrmann – as well composers that were active a little later, Maurice Jarre, Ennio Morricone – and the composers of today, Hans Zimmer, Alexandre Desplat, Danny Elfman and Thomas Newman, among others. The full list is here.
It was fascinating to see how the genre has changed over the last 80+ years, and to study the vast array of effects music can have in film. It was a ton of work but I learned so much putting this list together. Although I will tweak it slightly for next time – we could do with a few more comedy scores and the list is rather orchestra-heavy – I think it worked well for a first run.
As most film music involves computers and recording studios etc, we also touch on music technology – boy, what a class that was! I wasn’t able to bring my class to my home studio, so….I (for the most part) brought my studio to the class.

2 hours of setup the night before, for only 90 minutes of class time but it worked great. Good thing it doesn’t happen very often though!

We finished the semester with TV music – Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad – and finally we looked at how music works in advertising. Companies such as Nike tend to excel here – check this out!

The only downside was that we only had 7 students – and, while a small class is a good class – isn’t doesn’t bode well for the future, as the Dean may decide to cancel a unit that has poor enrollment numbers. It appears that had it not been for a timetable clash, we would have had more students in class. I believe it is important for graduating film & communications students to have SOME idea as to how music actually works in media.  So….here’s hoping we start listening to more film music semester 1, 2019 ;)