Daniel Robbins’ lectures and College courses in motion picture music explore the many fascinating ways music influences how we feel when watching a movie. The films covered feature the music of the greatest composers from Hollywood’s Golden Era: Alex North, David Raksin, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Dimitri Tiomkin, Henry Mancini, Max Steiner, Elmer Bernstein, Alfred Newman, and Miklos Rozsa. Selected scenes and musical examples illustrate three scoring devices that strongly affect audience emotional response: 1) literal underscoring, wherein all dialogue and action are strictly reinforced; 2) definition of dramatic elements uses music to point the viewer’s emotion in a specific direction; 3) subconscious reminder incorporates a distinctive musical idea to remind us of an important character, event, or psychological state not visually depicted on-screen.
In the mid-1990s Dr. Daniel Robbins created his own college course in motion picture music. Instituted at Cypress College and Golden West College in Southern California, the class examines the many fascinating ways that music influences the moviegoer’s emotional response. As in his film music lectures, Professor Robbins has discerned three important film scoring devices: 1) literal underscoring, wherein music strictly reinforces all cinematic action and dialogue; 2) definition of dramatic elements uses music to point the viewer’s emotion in a specific direction; 3) subconscious reminder incorporates a distinctive musical idea to remind us of an important character, event, or psychological state not visually depicted on-screen.
All film excerpts in the course are drawn from the Golden Era of motion picture scoring and represent the work of Hollywood’s most distinguished composers. Dr. Robbins illustrates their music through film clips, rare archival recordings, and live piano demonstrations which he performs himself. Many intriguing pre-recorded interviews with the original composers are showcased, one of which features the eminent Miklos Rozsa discussing his music for the famous galley slave rowing scene from Ben-Hur. In addition, actual celebrities from the industry are sometimes invited to appear as guest speakers.
Daniel Robbins has tirelessly promoted the merits of Hollywood classic film music through his numerous lectures and concerts nationwide. In 1999 the New York Council for the Humanities and the Arts Council for Wyoming County co-sponsored his “Music in the Movies,” a series of workshops and piano recitals at New York’s Perry Art Gallery and Genessee Community College. In 2002 the Recreations and Community Services Department of Cypress, California showcased Dr. Robbins in a lecture recital of classic film scores, featuring the world premiere of his Dark Waters Concerto, an original piano work based on motion picture themes by Miklos Rozsa. Recently at the invitation of Louisiana State University-Alexandria and the Rapides Symphony Orchestra, Daniel Robbins presented his lecture “The Art of Film Music” as part of the Cavanaugh Lecture Series. In addition, Dr. Robbins has made numerous appearances as guest speaker on classic movie music at both Barnes and Noble and Borders Booksellers in Long Beach, California.