Connections : making sense of the world around us (the use of music in documentary films)

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


Music is often a neglected and undervalued element in documentary films. This thesis looks at music cognition, film cognition, and learning theory to argue for the importance of music in documentary films. Adhering to the theory that the documentary film genre is an educational tool first and foremost, the use of music strengthens a film's potential to engage with and educate an audience. The first portion of this thesis examines brain function as it pertains to music and learning, as well as research in narrative film cognition, looking particularly at how documentary films provide a unique medium to engage an audience in a story of facts, which increases their chances of retaining information presented to them, as well as providing a unique vehicle for repetition and variety in information transmission which contributes to a stronger learning environment. The second portion of this thesis analyses three popular science and nature documentary films in order to more fully understand their use of music, and how that may or may not have contributed to their success.


Troubador: learning from the soul is a film that is part of the student's thesis project.



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