Unconscious anchors

Bernard Herrmann’s music for Marnie


  • Tom Schneller Independent Scholar




Alfred Hitchcock, analysis, Bernard Herrmann, film music form, leitmotiv, Marnie, plot structure


The score for Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964) features three main themes, as well as several subsidiary motifs closely related to the main themes. I examine how the complex relationship between the characters is reflected in a network of motivic connections. The music also serves to emphasize Hitchcock’s use of recurring visual motifs that gradually escalate in intensity. The music that accompanies these visual points of correspondence amplifies their teleological trajectory through a process of registral, orchestrational, and dynamic expansion, and thus plays an important role in helping to articulate the overall dramatic structure of the film.

Author Biography

Tom Schneller, Independent Scholar

Tom Schneller is a recent graduate of Cornell University, where he obtained his doctorate in composition. He has taught music theory and music history at Cornell and Ithaca College. His compositions have been performed by ensembles such as eighth blackbird, the Buffalo Philharmonic, and the New Amsterdam Symphony Orchestra. Tom wrote his dissertation on Bernard Herrmann, and has published several book reviews in The Journal of Film Music.


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How to Cite

Schneller, T. (2011). Unconscious anchors: Bernard Herrmann’s music for Marnie. Popular Music History, 5(1), 55–104. https://doi.org/10.1558/pomh.v5i1.55