Skip to main content
CODE 106761
SEMESTER 1° Semester


The study of the relationship between music and the visual image is an increasingly significant area of interdisciplinary academic inquiry, bringing together work by scholars in film and media, cultural studies, musicology, popular music theory and performance. The course offers an historical and theoretical overview of music on screen from the silent era to the early 21th century, with a particular focus on Italian film music.



The course aims at providing historiographical skills and theoretical tools for understanding film music, with a particular focus on Italian cinema. The student will gain knowledge about the radical changes in aesthetic horizons, compositional techniques and production systems which have been occurring since the 1910s in Italian and international cinema. The aim is to convey a method of analyzing the interconnection among music, sound and moving pictures and of investigating the role played by music in audiovisual dramaturgy.


The course explores the role of music in cinema, including an overview of the history and techniques of film music, with a particular focus on Italian cinema. It enables students to gain knowledge about the radical changes in aesthetic horizons, compositional techniques and production systems which have been occurring since the 1910s in Italian and international cinema. The course also covers film music terminology and aspects of theory, with case studies on structural and interpretive analysis, classical scoring, montage, song scores and sound design. The aim is to provide historiographical skills and theoretical tools for understanding film music and for contextualizing Italian output in relation to international panorama.  

After completing this course the student will be familiar with the theoretical frameworks that have evolved within the emerging field of film music studies. He/she will develope awareness of cultural and industrial implication of film music, especially in relation to Italian cinema. He/she will be able to perform a music-image analysis as a basis for discussion of roles that the soundtrack plays in audiovisual dramaturgy.


Basic knowledge of Italian and international cinema.


Lessons will be held in person.

Although attendance is not compulsory, it is strongly recommended due to the interactive approach in teaching and the frequent use of audio-visuals.


The course is divided into two parts: a theoretical part, of a general nature, and a historical part, focused on Italian film music. In the latter part, an overview of the Italian archival heritage relating to film music will also be offered.

The theoretical part provides the student with the tools to analyze how music interact with other cinematic devices to produce an interconnected audiovisual system. The various functions that music performs within the film will be discussed: depending on the situation, music can act both as one of the formal devices of cinematographic language, and as an element that actively influences audiovisual dramaturgy. It will also be illustrated how the various functions of the soundtrack have been interpreted by different film music scholars, so that the student becomes familiar with the theoretical frameworks that have evolved during the last decades.

The historical part presents an overview of the history of Italian film music, focusing in particular on the production of Nino Rota and Ennio Morricone. The Italian film industry began to demonstrate a specific interest in the role of music in audiovisual dramaturgy starting in the 1930s, in particular thanks to the activity of the musicologist Guido Gatti at the Lux Film. In this environment Nino Rota began his activity as a film music composer and worked for twenty years. With his subsequent collaborations with Fellini and Visconti, Rota revolutionized the relationship between soundtrack and audiovisual dramaturgy. From an artistic point of view, Ennio Morricone belongs to the next generation: he trained in the field of avant-garde music and made his debut in cinema in the early 1960s, quickly achieving success with his soundtracks for Sergio Leone. The two composers give us a privileged view on film music, since they have left us an important written and oral documentation that allows us to understand from the inside their compositional techniques and their conception of how music must act within the film.


  1. Ennio Morricone, Sergio Miceli, Composing for the Cinema: The Theory and Praxis of Music in Film. Lanham: Scarecrow press 2013, only chapters 1 (Introduction), 2 (Audiovisual Analysis - Part 1), 3 (Production Procedures) and 4 (Audiovisual Analysis - Part 2).
  2. Emilio Audissino, Film/Music Analysis: A Film Studies Approach. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, only chapters 4 (The Neoformalist Proposal) and 6 (Film/Music Analysis II).
  3. Giada Viviani, A Composer’s Notebook. Nino Rota’s Autograph Sources for La dolce vita. In: Giada Viviani, Nino Rota: La dolce vita. Sources of the Creative Process, Turnhout: Brepols, 2018, pp. 13-36.
  4. Sergio Miceli, Film Music: History, Aesthetic-analysis, Typologies. Milano/Lucca: Ricordi/LIM, 2013, only pp. 305-396; 631-699.

Non-attending students are required to contact the professor by e-mail in order to agree on the exam programme.

N. B. Nos. 1, 2 and 4 are available at the university library and/or in the bookshop; No. 3 can be consulted online on the course Aulaweb and downloaded free of charge as a PDF file. Audio-visual examples, readings, and in-depth digital resources will be offered on the Aulaweb: although they are not part of the examination programme, these materials will allow some of the issues addressed in class to be explored in depth.

The bibliography may be subject to change and it is therefore advisable to wait until the start of the lectures before purchasing or borrowing.


Exam Board






Wednesday 21st September, 2 p.m.

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy



Oral exam.


The exam evaluates a student's understanding of the course contents and of the relative bibliography. Knowledge of the history of film music will be assessed, with a particular focus on Italian cinema. The student should place the output of Italian composers in the correct historical, aesthetic, technological and productive context. He/she should be able to describe the main techniques of music composition, editing and sound design for the screen. Finally, he / she must be able to analyze the functions performed by the soundtrack in the audiovisual dramaturgy of the film scenes explained in class or in the bibliography.

The evaluation considers the student’s knowledge of the programme (topics presented in class, bibliography, handouts available in aulaweb). In addition, student’s speaking skills, critical skills and acquisition of musicological vocabulary are also taken into account.

Exam schedule

Data Ora Luogo Degree type Note
18/01/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale
01/02/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale
10/05/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale appello riservato ai laureandi
24/05/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale
07/06/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale
21/06/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale
13/09/2023 14:00 GENOVA Orale


It is strongly recommended to register on the course's Aulaweb, where in-depth materials and course-related news will be provided.