Reel Music: Exploring 100 Years of Film Music (2nd Edition)

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AuthorsRoger Hickman


Music is a powerful tool that enhances our emotions and elevates our movie-watching experience. From the iconic theme of “Star Wars” to the haunting melodies of “The Lord of the Rings,” film music has become an integral part of cinematic storytelling. In the book Reel Music: Exploring 100 Years of Film Music by Roger Hickman, readers embark on a captivating journey through the evolution of film scores over the past century. This second edition, an expanded and revised version of the original, delves deeper into the world of film music, examining its impact and influence on the silver screen. In this blog post, we will explore the highlights and significance of this extraordinary book.

Chapter 1: The Birth of Film Music

The book begins with a fascinating account of the birth of film music. From the silent film era to the advent of synchronized sound, Hickman chronicles the challenges and triumphs faced by composers in the early years of cinema. He explores the pioneering works of composers such as Max Steiner and Dmitri Tiomkin, whose innovative scores set the foundation for the future of film music.

Chapter 2: Golden Age and the Hollywood Studio System

As Hollywood flourished during the Golden Age of cinema, so did the art of film music. Hickman takes us on a tour through the era of lavish studio productions, highlighting the collaborations between composers and filmmakers that gave birth to some of the most memorable scores in history. From the romanticism of Miklós Rózsa’s “Ben-Hur” to the enchanting melodies of Erich Wolfgang Korngold in “The Adventures of Robin Hood,” the chapter showcases the immense talent and creativity of the era.

Chapter 3: The Rise of Modernism and New Directions

With the arrival of the 1960s, film music underwent a significant transformation. Hickman examines how composers like Bernard Herrmann and Ennio Morricone pushed the boundaries of traditional orchestral scores, incorporating avant-garde techniques and experimenting with new sounds. This chapter provides insights into the impact of their work and its influence on subsequent generations of film composers.

Chapter 4: The Birth of Blockbusters and the Era of John Williams

No discussion on film music would be complete without mentioning the extraordinary contribution of John Williams. Hickman delves into the rise of blockbuster films and the symbiotic relationship between Williams and director Steven Spielberg. Through an in-depth analysis of Williams’ iconic scores, including “Jaws,” “Star Wars,” and “Jurassic Park,” readers gain a deeper understanding of his ability to capture the essence of a film and leave an indelible mark on popular culture.

Chapter 5: Diversity and Global Influences

In recent decades, film music has become more diverse and inclusive. Hickman explores the incorporation of world music, electronic elements, and cultural influences in film scores. He examines the works of composers like A.R. Rahman, Tan Dun, and Hans Zimmer, showcasing their ability to blend different musical traditions seamlessly and enrich the cinematic experience.


Reel Music: Exploring 100 Years of Film Music (2nd Edition) is a comprehensive and engaging exploration of the evolution of film scores. Roger Hickman’s meticulous research and insightful analysis make this book an indispensable resource for film enthusiasts, music lovers, and aspiring composers alike. By tracing the development of film music over the past century, Hickman highlights the immense impact it has had on storytelling, creating emotional connections, and shaping the way we experience movies. Whether you are a cinephile interested in the history of cinema or a musician seeking inspiration, this book will transport you into the magical realm where music and movies converge.

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Written by Jordan Farrell

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