Instant expert

March 3, 2006

Bradford Film Festival Music Conference. National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, Bradford, West Yorkshire. March 4-5.

Full conference: £30.00

Students: £20.00

Per session: £12.00

What's it about?

This is Bradford's second annual film music conference, organised by the schools of music at Leeds and Huddersfield universities and the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television (NMPFT). With perfect timing, it coincides with that other big movie event, the Oscars.

It looks at how film scores are developed and performed and the relationship between music and movies. There will be interviews, paper sessions and round-table discussions.

Star turn: Michael Nyman, composer of scores for films and television, will be interviewed by Christopher Fox, who teaches composition at Huddersfield.

Nyman's track record includes the music for Peter Greenaway's critically acclaimed series of movies in the 1980s, including The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover and Drowning by Numbers.

Vocabulary expander: Every conference should give you a new word to take home, along with the satchel and freebie pens. This conference can offer "diegesis", which means plot or storyline. As an example, it appears on a paper about the song Blue Velvet in the David Lynch movie of the same name.

"Initially, the music works traditionally, introducing us to the mise en scène , but still only occupying non-diegetic space."

Less is more: Nyman, in a Spectator article in 1968, was the first critic to apply the term "minimalism" to music. Enough said. Mind you, he also did the music for the Reggie Perrin spin-off sitcom Fairly Secret Army , which had some particularly complicated examples of diegesis.

Marshall McLuhan moment: There's a great wish-fulfilment scene in Annie Hall when Woody Allen is arguing about Marshall McLuhan with a media lecturer in a cinema queue and he produces McLuhan himself to agree with him. And this conference could have its own such moment, because one of the papers puts forward the theory that the soundtrack to Prospero's Books "undermines Peter Greenaway's emphasis on text and voice to offer an alternative reading of the film". And who wrote the music? Nyman, on hand to provide the answers.

Best-ever movie songs: Classic oldies dominated the top five in Channel 4's best-ever movie music list, based on a panel vote of the American Film Institute. In first place was Over the Rainbow , followed by As Time Goes By, Singin' in the Rain, Moon Rive r and White Christmas .

Name checker: To get maximum points in the movie buff stakes, preview the movies that are going to be discussed, including: Moulin Rouge ("Postmodernism at its worst or the rebirth of the movie musical?"); The Royal Tenenbaums ; The Libertine (special screening during the conference); The Ice Storm ; and Sea of Love .

The venue: The NMPFT is one of those great hidden treasure museums often overlooked in national coverage. It is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry, along with the Science Museum and the National Railway Museum. Its eclectic collection of media artefacts ranges from one of the earliest ever examples of moving images (Leeds Bridge in 1888) through to the diegestically challenged toys from Playschool .

Sean Coughlan

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