October 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Book Review

Film Music by Paul Tonks
Pocket Essentials softback, pocket sized , 96 pages ISBN 1-903047-63-3 £3:99


This is a very compact and concise history of film music stretching from the silent era, through the ‘Golden and Silver Ages’ to the present day. Paul Tonks, one of Film Music on the Web’s reviewers, covers the ground rapidly yet astutely concentrating on landmark scores and the more important contributions of leading composers. Sensibly, he concentrates on the film music of more recent decades - the music of the Golden and Silver Ages has been more than adequately covered in books by Christopher Palmer and Tony Thomas. On the way, Tonks makes telling comments about the changes in the genre – not all for the better, particularly over the last ten years, as this site has consistently bemoaned.

One of the best features of the book is the chapter entitled ‘Hitting the Right Note', in which Tonks gives a condensed yet detailed account of the varying stages through which a score is commissioned, written and used within a film and transferred to CD as the soundtrack album. Tonks worries that so many worthy orchestral scores are now lost, delayed or ignored because of the trend of releasing albums of songs from films ahead of their orchestral scores – a trend that is becoming all too frequent and one that increasingly irritates the buying public and threatens to destroy their confidence in the genre.

This valuable and inexpensive book also has a short bibliography, a list of specialist film music magazines, film music web sites, and film music composer appreciation web sites, together with a list of recommended film music CDs. Recommended to student and enthusiasts alike.

Ian Lace


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