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Syllabus Description (for CSI Summer Session C):
Participation and Attendance (25%): Basically when Professor Graham asks what you hear, make sure that you at least try to say something in the chat, even though it could be wrong.
Weekly Homework Paragraphs (25%): Each week we would be given a prompt to write about a cinematic piece that was not discussed in class. The objective of the assignment was to apply concepts from the lecture and use them in another piece. These took about 1-2 hours per assignment and were graded leniently (100% = high pass, 80% pass, 0% fail/incomplete).
Midterm Quizzes (25%): The quizzes consisted of three 2 minute clips of scenes from films that we have already watched, and the prompts for the quizzes were very open-ended (just write about what you think stands out in the scene from a musical and cinematic context). The grading scheme is the same as the weekly paragraphs, and the responses were expected to be about 1-2 short paragraphs in length.
Final Mini-Paper (25%): The assignment was a 4-page mini-paper (no more, no less), which was to be written on a movie of our choice, provided that it was a film that was either in English or had subtitles. It was to be written in Chicago style, and including at least two scholarly sources. The prompt for this paper was open-ended, much like the quizzes, but Professor Graham directed us in a way so that we can think of our own theses.
Overall class review:
Before taking this class, I have had no prior experience in music whatsoever (I was taking this class as a GE), and I at first struggled to grasp the concepts of music theory that were initially introduced in the class. It may seem a bit daunting at first and I was quite lost, but if you go to office hours, Professor Graham clears them up very well. Our workload consisted of 2 movies every week, along with 1-2 readings to accompany that film. The movies were rather long, ranging from 1 hr 45 minutes to 2 hr 30 minutes, but they were very enjoyable. The readings, in my opinion, were rather dense, and it took some time for me to grasp the ideas presented in the text. These confusions would later be cleared up in lecture when Prof. Graham would explain the reading in simpler detail.
We would often rewatch scenes from movies that we would have watched prior to the lecture, where he would often demonstrate concepts from the reading that were present in the movie, and sometimes we could even listen to him play the piano with such grace. Since the class was over the summer, lectures were long (140 minutes). In the last couple of office hours, Professor Graham and the TAs were kind enough to read some of our essays and provide feedback to them.
I had Damjan Rakonjac as a TA, and he was absolutely amazing. He cleared up concepts that were still unclear in the lecture, and he told us exactly what we needed to do to succeed in the quizzes and paragraphs. His office hours were flexible, where one was at a fixed time and allowed students to email him for individual office hours. During the discussion, we would talk about other scenes from films we watched, and I highly suggest participating in the discussion since he would provide feedback or ask for an elaboration.
This class has made me respect the music and film industry even more, and I got to watch some amazing films that I would have never considered watching before.
Here is the list of films, musicals, and operas we watched for this class (note that some of them were only scenes, and not the whole movie):
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (scene)
The Gold Rush
Dirty Dancing (scene)
Don Giovanni (multiple excerpts)
Salomé (Richard Strauss)
The Dead City (Erich Korngold)
The Maltese Falcon (scene)
Wicked Woman (scene)
The Joy Luck Club (scene)
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (scene)
Body Heat (scene)
South Pacific (scene)
Singin' in the Rain (scene)
A Clockwork Orange
The Silence of the Lambs (scene)
The Mephisto Waltz (scene)
Rosemary's Baby (scene)
Requiem for a Dream (scene)
Crazy Rich Asians (scene)
I would definitely take this class again with this professor, and I think you should give it a shot.
My review of this class might be biased because I do have background in music and music theory (not a lot, theory up to the intermediate level). From this standpoint, I will say that this class for me was pretty much an easy A. For someone without a music background, this class may definitely seem a little more overwhelming, but if you look past the glitz and glam of music vocabulary (which you don't even need to memorize), this class is pretty doable. I will admit, because the professor is literally a piano prodigy, he tends to focus more on the music side of things, but my TA, Patrick, balanced it by talking more about the film-side of things. This class literally requires no materials as all of them are provided by the professor on ccle. There are weekly readings that he gives, but I got away without doing any of them. From what I skimmed on the first reading and learned from the first lecture, the readings are oftentimes too in-depth and not necessarily useful for a beginning musicology class. I will admit that his lectures are sometimes a little lackluster since it's just lecture slides, going over clips of the film, or him playing the piano (which was definitely really good considering how he's a concert pianist).
There are reviews saying that this class is hard for a person without any music background. I can understand to a certain extent that you may have to put in more work that someone who has a music background, but still, in all the weekly paragraphs (which were only a page double spaced) and even the final paper (<5 pages), the only music terminology I used was major and minor, which is fairly easier concept about whether the music sounds more "happy" or "sad." That said, without the music terminology, the key is to just be more descriptive with your words. What the TAs and the professor are looking for is whether you can get your point across and if you put in a decent amount of effort. I truly don't think that this class was at all horrible enough to be anything under a 4/5 in terms of difficulty. (Do note that it is the TAs grading most of the work, and since my TA was really–for lack of a better word- "chill" this class was actually pretty enjoyable).
So, would I take this class again? Considering how I am a STEM major and took this class as a GE, I might have to think about it some more. If you're looking for an easy GE, just understand that "easiness" for this class really depends on interest (since there's virtually little to no work). If you're at least interested in analyzing film with some interest in music then this class will be easy for you.
I took this class during CSI (summer c session for freshmen) and overall I had a decent enough experience. A lot of the time spent on this class was simply watching movies which was nice. That said, I don’t know if this class with this professor is for everyone. The title of the class is film and music, but Professor Graham being an avid piano player focuses a lot on the musical aspect and tends to use technical musical terms which he does try to explain in simple language, but can sometimes remain confusing for some. Personally I got along fine because I have some musical background having played an instrument throughout middle school and high school, but I know that isn’t that case for everyone. However if you go to office hours I’m sure he’ll try to clear things up as best as he can
In terms of the work, your grade was based off of weekly paragraphs, 2 quizzes and a final paper. The lowest weekly paragraph is dropped, and I felt these weren’t grade particularly hard. Quizzes were slightly harder. You were given 3 short movie/musical scene clip and expected to write an analysis of the scene and its music for 2 out of the 3 scenes in 25 minutes (you got to choose which two to do, the inclusion of a third I believe was for flexibility). The paper was 4 pages, required 2 scholarly sources, and was on a movie of your choice. My TA, Patrick Craven, was very kind and helpful with any questions about all of this, and I feel that he made efforts to be a fair grader towards everyone. I believe that at some point he stated he preferred taking a less musical view and more film-oriented view on the subject (at least compared to Professor Graham), which was probably helpful to those with less/no musical background. He also gave a lot of good feedback on our papers during office hours of the last week of class.
There is no textbook associated with this class which I was thankful for. Usually we’d be assigned a movie or some clips to watch before the next class, which was time consuming but preferable to sifting through pages of a giant textbook. Sometimes, however, we’d be assigned readings which were posted on CCLE, and these could sometimes be dense. Overall it was manageable. Also, attendance was mandatory as part of a participation grade.
Overall I’m happy with my experience in this class, though it may not be for everyone given Professor Graham’s approach. If you have a musical background and are interested in its role in film, go for it. If you’re not super knowledgeable about music, but have some degree of interest and are also into film, I also say go for it as long as you have a willingness to put some time and effort into this class. If you’re just looking for an easy GE and have no musical background, then you should know that it may take a bit of effort, though it won’t be the hardest possible thing either
For everyone thinking that my review isn't helpful because I rated everything a 2 or 3 in the class, let me explain: how hard this class is depends on you. Pheaross is a music prodigy who's classically trained on the piano and who has perfect pitch (which he mentions often). This class is supposed to be about how music is used in film, but he uses an IMMENSE amount of music vocabulary and discusses music theory often. Additionally, a lot of this class is listening for certain musical devices. Essentially, if you have a music background, you'll think that this class is the easiest thing ever. For me, however (a person with no musical background and who failed at three different instruments), I have never EVER taken a harder class. As far as the workload goes you have to watch a two hour movie before every lecture but other than that there's only two quizzes (200 points each), a paragraph every week (100 points each), and a final 4 page paper (100 points) so I would say it's extremely light compared to STEM classes. If you're looking for an easy A, take if if you have a music background - otherwise stay away. Pheaross is an immensely kind person who took a lot of time getting to know me, but it was difficult for him to answer my questions in a way that I could understand with no musical background so office hours weren't very helpful for me. If you do take this class, Patrick is the best TA ever and deserves all the awards for putting up with me and all my questions. Also, for everyone wondering, this class doesn't use any textbooks. My advice is to find someone who's already taken this class and took good notes. I know I wrote down every single thing he said in lecture which is why I did so well on the quizzes where we have to analyze scenes. He doesn't record lecture so make sure you go because 25% of your grade is attendance and all the scenes on the quizzes are discussed in class.
Additional grade breakdown:
25% Homework (Weekly Paragraphs and a Getting to Know You Question)
25% Final Paper (4 Pages)
Took this class for CSI over the summer and had a great experience! Professor Graham's very knowledgeable and clearly passionate about the subject. Super interesting topics about history/culture and you essentially got to watch movies for homework which was nice. I think the class could be a little difficult if you don't have a lot of prior music knowledge but it's definitely doable without it.
There are weekly paragraph assignments, two midterm quizzes, and one final paper, all of which are doable as long as you pay attention in lecture and take notes to refer back to. I'd say it's an easy GE as long as you have interest in the subject (whether it's film or music). Both Professor Graham and the TAs (Damjan Rakonjac and Patrick Craven) are extremely helpful during office hours and really do their best to look out for their students. Overall, a really fun class that I would definitely take with Professor Graham again.
I came into the class with little music experience. The musical terminology did throw me off a bit at first, but I eventually realized that most of the analysis can take place outside of the music. When writing my final paper, I used the musical terms that I did come to understand (without any of the note-reading and whatever else jargon) and incorporated them into my analysis. I definitely learned a decent bit about the history of film and it's interesting to notice musical techniques in movies, shows, etc nowadays. Definitely a fun class overall.
Professor Graham was tremendously engaging, passionate, and clearly invested in the course. Regardless of musical background, I’d recommend his class to anyone, even if intense for some. I now see film and hear music in completely different, unexpected ways, and have gained valuable perspectives on culture and history. He laid the course out well, developing a foundation for close listening, moving to film concepts, covering history, and then uniting all three. The readings complemented the lectures well, the films were varied, and the assignments were very reasonable, especially considering that we were still transitioning to remote learning during the pandemic. I appreciated how welcoming and positive he was. This was important, as the entire class consisted of 100 entering UCLA freshmen transitioning to college.