Former Edge Hill University student Dr Matt Lawson has proved he knows the score when it comes to movie music with the publication of his first book.
The PhD graduate from Scarborough shares his passion for cinematic compositions in 100 Greatest Film Scores, an A-Z of the most memorable music produced for the big screen, due to be published in September by Rowman & Littlefield.
“Coming from brass band country, music has always played a big part in my life. I began to take an interest in film scores as a child – I would always come out of the cinema humming the theme music and when we acted out scenes from our favourite films in the playground, I would be the one singing the music in the background! So, becoming a film music scholar felt like a natural progression for me.”
After studying Music to Masters level, Matt enrolled at Edge Hill as one of the University’s first Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs), which enabled him to gain teaching experience while completing a PhD in Film Music. While his research focused specifically on music in German films that depict the Holocaust, Matt continued to have an interest in the broader film music genre which led to him co-writing 100 Greatest Film Scores a year after graduation.
“Music is still an underappreciated area of film studies. Even when actors or directors discuss their movies, music and sound are always on the periphery, which is strange because the background music in a film can make or break the audience experience. In this book, I wanted to show that music is an integral part of filmmaking and also worth listening to in its own right.
“The hardest part was deciding which scores to include. At the end of the book, we also list 100 others that we had to leave out because there were so many. The entries deliberately aren’t ranked to avoid argument, but if pushed to give my personal favourite, I would say the music from ET takes some beating.”
Matt is about to start his second year as a Music Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and puts his success down to his GTA experience at Edge Hill.
“The teaching experience across music and film was the best possible preparation for working as an academic. It was the hardest, most challenging period of my life but I honestly don’t think I would be doing what I’m doing now without the opportunities and support from Edge Hill. I’m currently working on another book proposal about film music and trauma and I feel incredibly privileged to be doing what I love for a living.”