Music and Film Come Together at UNLV
For the first time in its history, the UNLV music department is offering a class combining music and film studies.
The course, entitled music and Hollywood film, examines the fundamentals of properly incorporating music of various genres into motion pictures, particularly classical, jazz, pop and rock ’n’ roll.
The course is taught by professor Jonathan Lee, who intends to display the role of musical art within films.
“I’m a firm believer that the film industry is one of the places where musicians still have an active thriving culture,” Lee said. “I think it’s important for a school of students training to be musicians to know about this huge industry, and understand how it works.”
He also hopes this class will help promote several Hollywood film composers who he believes did not receive sufficient media attention.
Lee will display 10 films throughout the semester, beginning with motion pictures that immediately proceeded the silent movie generation, such as Captain Blood and King Kong.
“All of the Star Wars and Lords of the Rings scores out there are rooted from that 1930s tradition and setup of composing scores in motion pictures,” Lee said. “Captain Blood is really the film that started it all for classical music film scores.”
By the fifth week of the semester, Lee began screening other motion pictures that diverged from solely using classical music in their scores, such as Easy Rider.
“Not every film is best accompanied by a classical score, as shown with Easy Rider,” Lee said. “It’s vital that students know what genre, tempo and overall feel of a song or score best fit the situation of a movie scene.”
Music and Hollywood film is divided into two sections: a discussion course and a film screening seminar. The discussion portion of the class is exclusive to graduate students, while the seminar is open to the UNLV community.
Each seminar is preceded by a 15-minute discussion regarding the film’s scores.
Both portions of the class take place on Tuesdays in the Alta Ham Fine Arts building of the music department, beginning at 4 and 7:15 p.m., respectively.
This is Lee’s first semester teaching at UNLV. Prior to sharing his knowledge to UNLV students, he wrote several books regarding music history and also taught music at various universities throughout the country.
He previously taught this class at the University of Chicago.
Lee has advertised this class by plastering posters throughout campus, sending e-mails to fine arts students and reserving digital advertisements in the Student Union.
A varying number of students have been attending the classes throughout the semester. There are three people enrolled in the discussion class, while the screenings have received turnouts as low as one student, and as high as 13.
The discussion portion of the class will be open to both undergraduates and graduate students by the fall 2016 semester.
Various undergraduates are anticipating to enroll in this class in the future.
“I’ve already added it to my four-year plan,” said student Jimmy Williams, 19. “It’s the perfect class to train me for a career in my two passions: music and motion pictures.”
Williams has yet to declare a major at UNLV, but plans to begin pursuing degrees in music performance and film studies by the fall 2016 semester.
Lee is scheduled to continue teaching the class in the future.
“I think it’s exciting and rare that I can offer a class that really goes outside the boundaries in the music department,” Lee said. “This is definitely an experience that reaches out to the broader Las Vegas community.”
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