What is the course about?
This course provides an introduction to the music of Disney feature films from 1937 to the present day. How was music written for animation? How were appropriate musical styles chosen in each case – from Tchaikovsky arrangements in Sleeping Beauty to a Beatles parody in The Jungle Book? We consider not only the composers and performers of this repertoire, but the importance that music plays in the narrative structure of cartoons and CGI films, and how it gives each story a sense of a specific place and time. We will also analyse some of the best-known Disney songs to find out how they function. Tutor: Dr Katy Hamilton [external website].
What will we cover?
- The role of music in cartoons pre-Disney feature films
- The early composers of Disney film scores (including Frank Churchill, Leigh Harline and Paul J. Smith)
- Star turns and parodies: Peggy Lee, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Tchaikovsky
- Changing approaches to film scoring from the 1980s onwards
- Adapting films into stage shows.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
- Summarise the principal reasons for using music in cartoons
- List the most important composers of Disney film scores
- Outline the basic structure of songs required to build a musical film
- Identify some of the allusions made to other musical styles and performers in Disney soundtracks
- Explain some of the ways in which approaches to cartoon scoring has changed over time.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course in intended to be accessible for anyone with an interest in music. We will look at various scores and historical documents during this course but you do not need to read music notation to participate in these activities. Film viewing and audio examples will also be crucial. All texts will be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
Each class will involve a combination of spoken presentations from the tutor, recorded and live musical examples, and class discussion and activities. These will include tasks for pairs and small groups, whole-class discussions and individual activities. There will be some small tasks to complete between classes (usually brief reading and/or listening tasks), and all materials for these – such as video links and texts – will be made available online.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
All classes, learning materials and online resources are included in the price. Those who wish to continue their learning outside the classes will be offered suggestions for further reading and listening, but this is not compulsory in order to complete the course.
You will need to bring paper and writing implements to take notes and participate fully in group activities. All presentation material and class handouts will also be made accessible in digital format.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
To find out more about music appreciation classes and to read some of our recommendations, please see the blog post Music history and appreciation: the 2018/19 programme which lists our full programme of classes listed by term, and by day of the week. You may then click on each title to read the full course outline.
General information and advice on courses at City Lit is available from the Student Centre and Library on Monday to Friday from 12:00 – 19:00.
See the course guide for term dates and further details