Malcolm M. Renfrew Interdisciplinary Colloquium Web Archive

Preserving access to past MRIC web content.


Collections A-Z

Archetypes in Film Music
MRIC 2013/14

Please note: this is archived content harvested from a web page and may not display as originally intended. Some images, links, and functionality may be broken or out of date.

Archetypes in Film Music

“What Hollywood has taught us to think (be it intentional or not):
A Theory of Archetypes in Film Music”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 | 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Presenter:  James L. Murphy, Professor of Music


Is the National Rifle Association correct in its assertion that violence in our society is attributable to our entertainment media? Is it possible that music can be a co-conspirator in subliminal messaging of Hollywood films?

Certain emotions, characters, and ethics have been linked, possibly intentionally, with specific elements of film music. While the use of bird calls and other simulated sounds of nature have been common but superficial vocabulary in “art” music for centuries, similar techniques used in the music of a Hollywood film frequently tell the audience how to respond to the images seen on the screen. In some demonstrable cases, the musical narrative has been moralistic, and the results of these efforts have been quite effective. This audio-visual presentation is designed to demonstrate some tricks of the trade, and to invite discussion among members of the audience about memorable moments in film music.

James L. Murphy
joined the faculty of the Lionel Hampton School of Music at the University of Idaho in 1999, initially as director of the school, and since 2008 continuing as coordinator of graduate studies in music. His teaching duties include various courses in music theory and music in film. Film music has been a research passion for Dr. Murphy for more than 30 years. His emphasis is in the theory and criticism of music as it has appeared in theatrically-released features, shorts and cartoons.

Original url: