Week 10: Pre-existing Music

Oct 24: Pre-existing Music

We mainly think of “soundtracks” as music that is composed specifically for a piece of media, but many soundtracks include or are made up of pre-existing pieces of music. These soundtracks require different analytical approaches than newly-composed soundtracks.

Reading (due Wednesday before class)

  • Chapters 2–3 of Gibbons (2018)
  • Motazedian (2023)

Visiting expert: Táhirih Motazedian (Assistant Professor of Music, Vassar College)

Writing due Saturday at noon

Purchase and play Untitled Goose Game ($20, available on several platforms), or watch a playthrough of some of the gameplay. This game uses exclusively music from Claude Debussy’s Préludes for solo piano to generate its score (here’s a popular article on the process, if you are curious).

Write 500 words about the intertextualities between Debussy’s pieces and Untitled Goose Game. Following are some optional prompts to get you started:

  • What seems to make these pieces “work” as a game soundtrack?
  • Did you know the Préludes beforehand? How does this impact your experience of the music in the game?
  • The first area of the game uses the prelude titled “Minstrels.” As the name implies, Debussy wrote this based on 19th-century minstrel shows. What do you make of this connection? You can read a little more about the original piece in McKinley (1986, 254–256).

Save as a PDF and upload to your homework submit folder.


Readings are always available in the Readings folder on Teams.

  • Gibbons, William. 2018. Unlimited Replays : Video Games and Classical Music. New York, NY : Oxford University Press.
  • McKinley, Ann. 1986. “Debussy and American Minstrelsy.” The Black Perspective in Music 14 (3): 249. https://doi.org/10.2307/1215065.
  • Motazedian, Táhirih. 2023. “Tonal Analysis of the Integrated Soundtrack: Music, Sound, and Dialogue in Baby Driver.” In Music Analysis and Film: Studying the Score: A Routledge Handbook on Music and Screen Media, edited by Frank Lehman, 19.