Alex Ludwig

Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts

Berklee College of Music


Alex Ludwig is an Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at Berklee College of Music. I teach music history courses on topics ranging from The Beatles to Viennese Modernism and Film Music. My research interests include Sonata Theory and the role of editing in film musicals. In addition, I have been cataloguing film scores that use the chant melody “Dies Irae.” Check my list and let me know if you’ve found a new one for me.

When I’m not teaching, I’m playing and coaching soccer, or watching hockey, or running after my son, Lucas, or our new dog, Sofi.


  • Sonata Theory
  • Dies Irae
  • Film Musicals


  • PhD in Musicology, 2010

    Brandeis University

  • MFA in Musicology, 2003

    Brandeis University

  • BM in String Performance, Cello, 2001

    Boston University

Recent Posts

My Pedagogy Video

Given the current pandemic, all academic conferences have shifted online; some more successfully than others! This year, I was lucky …

Recent Radio Appearances

It’s spooky season and that means my work on the Dies irae in film music has bubbled up on the internet again. I was interviewed …

Shazam and the Online Listening Quiz

Here in New England, we get a fair amount of snow. Because of this, I usually build in a few classes that can be taught online. Given …

Let Flubaroo Grade It!

Most of my classes meet once a week, so I tend to start each class with a small, low-stakes warmup quiz. These quizzes serve a few …

What I'll Be Blogging About

Dies Irae

The use of the “Dies irae” plainchant has a long history in film music and other assorted media.1 Its liturgical text comprises vivid imagery of burning ash, illustrating the final day of judgement, and its modal music fits comfortably within a tonal context, highlighting the lowered third and seventh scale degrees. It is no surprise then that quoting the “Dies irae” chant remains a popular option for composers of film music; in fact, using the “Dies irae” in your film score today usually ellicits the same response of recognition in listeners as does the stock sound effect known as the “Wilhelm Scream.” Prominent examples of this chant appear in nearly every decade of the history of film music, ranging from It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) to Frozen 2 (2019) and The Mandalorian (2020).

For more, see all of my supercuts:


See also a few other media appearances:

  1. the film on which I consulted and appeared as a talking head, Why This Creepy Melody Is In So Many Movies.
  1. the podcast Twenty Thousand Hertz
  1. and the “National Public Radio” program Here and Now.

My List: Film (year), composer {Time Stamp} Type

  1. Metropolis (1927), score by Gottfried Huppertz {00:32:34} T1
  2. Day of Wrath (1943), score by Poul Schierbeck {0:00:00} T1
  3. Know Your Enemy: Japan (1945), score by Dmitri Tiomkin {0:24:57} T1
  4. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), score by Dmitri Tiomkin T1-3
  5. I Confess (1953), score by Dmitri Tiomkin {0:01:55} T1
  6. The Sheep Has Five Legs (1954), score by Georges Van Parys T2
  7. Garden of Evil (1954), score by Bernard Herrmann {0:28:00} T1
  8. Sleeping Beauty (1957), score by Jack Lawrence & Sammy Fain {0:30:00}
  9. The Seventh Seal (1957), score by Erik Nodren {00:08:00} T2
  10. Psycho (1960), score by Bernard Herrmann {0:11:50} T3
  11. The Great Escape (1963), score by Elmer Bernstein {02:11:15} T2
  12. The Jar (1964), score by Bernard Herrmann {0:09:59} T1
  13. War and Peace (1966), score by Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov {1:44:39} T1
  14. Escalation (1968), score by Ennio Morricone {0:00:00} T1
  15. A Clockwork Orange (1971), score by Wendy Carlos {00:01:00} T1
  16. Mephisto Waltz (1971), score by Jerry Goldsmith {00:00:31} T1
  17. From Beyond the Grave (1974), score by Douglas Gamley {00:00:38} T1
  18. The Omen (1976), score by Jerry Goldsmith T1
  19. The Car (1977), score by Leonard Rosenman {00:00:17} T1
  20. A New Hope (1977), score by John Williams {00:40:15} T1
  21. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), score by John Williams {00:44:12} T1
  22. Alien (1979), score by Jerry Goldsmith {01:53:30} T2
  23. The Shining (1980), score by Wendy Carlos {00:00:00} T1
  24. Conan the Barbarian (1982), score by Basil Poledouris {01:51:13} T1
  25. Superstition (1982), score by David Gibney {0:04:05} T1
  26. Poltergeist (1982), score by Jerry Goldsmith {01:44:01} T2
  27. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters (1985), score by Philip Glass T3
  28. Legend (1985), score by Tangerine Dream {0:21:14} T2
  29. Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985), score by Henry Manfredini {00:01:59} T2
  30. Friday the 13th: Part VI, Jason Lives (1986), score by Henry Manfredini {00:04:15) T2
  31. Big Trouble in Little China (1986), score by John Carpenter/Alan Howarth {00:11:11} T1
  32. The Mission (1986), score by Ennio Morricone {00:32:56} T1
  33. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), score by Ira Newborn {00:00:08} T2
  34. Friday the 13th: Part VII, The New Blood (1988), score by Henry Manfredini {00:15:03} T1-2
  35. Predator (1987), score by Alan Silvestri {1:15:00} T2b
  36. Murder She Wrote S5E13 (1989), score by David Bell {0:13:00}, T1
  37. Quantam Leap S2E11 (1989), score by Mike Post {0:42:01], T2
  38. Home Alone (1990), score by John Williams {00:06:58} T1
  39. Gremlins 2 (1990), score by Jerry Goldsmith {01:34:48} T2
  40. The Witches (1990), score by Stanley Myers {0:28:00} T1
  41. Beauty and the Beast (1991), score by Alan Mencken T2b
  42. Batman Returns (1992), score by Danny Elfman {00:12:15} T1
  43. Jurassic Park (1993), score by John Williams {01:18:30} T1
  44. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), score by Danny Elfman T1
  45. Groundhog Day (1993), score by George Fenton T2
  46. Demolition Man (1993), score by Eliot Goldenthal {00:00:27} T2
  47. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), score by Shirley Walker {0:02:00} T2
  48. The Lion King (1994), score by Hans Zimmer T1
  49. Crimson Tide (1995), score by Hans Zimmer {01:30:00}, T1
  50. The Rock (1996), score by Smith/Zimmer {0:20:26}, T1
  51. The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), score by Alan Mencken {0:03:38} T1
  52. Mars Attacks (1996), score by Danny Elfman {00:02:41} T2
  53. A Time to Kill (1996), score by Elliot Goldenthal {0:49:20} T1
  54. Faceoff (1997), score by John Powell {0:07:00}, T2b
  55. Scream 2 (1997), score by Marco Beltrami {0:40:07} T2
  56. Mulan (1998), score by Jerry Goldsmith {0:55:54} T2
  57. Urban Legend (1998), score by Christopher Young {01:18:37} T3
  58. Armageddon (1998), score by Trevor Rabin {0:24:57} T2
  59. The Bone Collector (1999), score by Craig Armstrong {01:48:59} T2
  60. The Sixth Sense (1999), score by James Newton Howard {0:15:40} T2
  61. End of Days (1999), score by John Debney {00:00:01} T1
  62. The Road to El Dorado (2000), score by Hans Zimmer & John Powell {0:08:32} T1
  63. Gladiator (2000), score by Hans Zimmer & Lisa Gerrard {2:29:00} T1
  64. Shrek (2001), score by Harry Gregson-Williams/John Powell {00:41:30} T2
  65. Attack of the Clones (2002), score by John Williams {01:24:33} T1
  66. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), score by John Williams {01:49:15} T1
  67. The Ring (2002), score by Hans Zimmer {00:21:45} T1
  68. Signs (2002), score by James Newton Howard {1:06:51} T3
  69. Irreversible (2002), score by Thomas Bangalter {0:01:00} T1
  70. The Matrix Reloaded (2003), score by Don Davis {01:12:12} T2
  71. Lost S1E22 (2004), score by Michael Giacchino {00:30:06} T2
  72. Team America: World Police (2004), score by Harry Gregson-Williams {1:06:00} T2
  73. War of the Worlds (2005), score by John Williams {00:49:49} T2
  74. Death Note S1E19 (2006), score by Yoshihisa Hirano {00:18:00} T2
  75. Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End (2007), score by Hans Zimmer {02:34:00} T3
  76. The Bucket List (2007), score by Marc Shaiman {0:06:23} T2B
  77. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), score by John Williams {00:04:18} T1
  78. Bones S3E13 (2008), score by Peter Himmelman {0:24:38} T1
  79. Angels and Demons (2009), score by Hans Zimmer {01:57:31} T2
  80. Terminator Salvation (2009), score by Danny Elfman {0:59:42} T3
  81. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), score by Steve Jablonsky {1:43:52} T3B
  82. LOST S6E1 (2010), score by Michael Giacchino {0:22:50} T2
  83. Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (2011), score by Michael Giacchino {00:29:59} T1
  84. Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides (2011), score by Hans Zimmer {01:55:00} T1
  85. Thor (2011), score by Patrick Doyle {00:57:31} T1
  86. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 (2011), score by Alexandre Desplat {0:55:00} T3
  87. Wreck It Ralph (2012), score by Henry Jackman {00:25:57} T1
  88. The Bourne Legacy (2012), score by James Newton Howard {0:01:00} Type 3
  89. Iron Man 3 (2013), score by Brian Tyler {00:24:41} T1
  90. The Newsroom S2E7 (2013), score by Johnny Klimek {0:48:12} T3
  91. Game of Thrones S5E1 (2014), score by Ramin Djiwadin {00:22:15} T1
  92. Crimson Peak (2015), score by Fernando Velazquez {00:00:00} T1
  93. Glitch S1E3 (2015), score by Cornel Wilczeck {00:50:00} T2
  94. Terminator Genisys (2015), score by Lorne Balfe {1:27:03} T3b
  95. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), score by Bear McCreary {00:00:00} T1
  96. Colossal (2016), score by Bear McCreary {01:38:11} T1
  97. Rogue One (2016), score by Michael Giacchino {01:12:48} T1
  98. Game of Thrones S6E5 (2016), score by Ramin Djawadi {0:13:00} T1
  99. Star Trek Beyond (2016), score by Michael Giacchino {1:28:08} T3
  100. Dead by Daylight (2016), score by Michael April {main menu} T2
  101. Dr. Strange (2016), score by Michael Giacchino {1:35:36} T2
  102. Pirates of the Caribbean 5: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017), score by Geoff Zanelli {00:10:30} T1
  103. The Good Place S1E11 (2017), score by David Schwartz {00:23:42} T1
  104. Justice League (2017), score by Danny Elfman {0:25:25} T3
  105. Survivor S35E9 (2017), score by David Vanacore {0:20:50} T3
  106. The Spy Gone North (2018), score by Yeong-wook Jo {01:04:40} T1
  107. Avengers: Infinity War (2018), score by Alan Silvestri {00:33:52} T1
  108. Ready Player One (2018), score by Alan Silvestri {00:57:51} T2
  109. Star Wars Rebels S4E11 (2018), score by Kevin Kiner {00:02:26} T2
  110. Star Wars Rebels S4E13 (2018), score by Kevin Kiner {00:14:28} T2
  111. Eli (2019), score by Bear McCreary {001:19:52} T1
  112. 1BR (2019), score by Ronen Landa {00:27:00} T3
  113. Doctor Sleep (2019), score by The Newton Brothers {02:18:33} T2
  114. Frozen 2 (2019), score by Christophe Beck {00:16:40} T2
  115. Succession S2E10 (2019), score by Nicholas Britell {01:09:00} T2
  116. Toy Story (2019), score by Randy Newman {01:15:20} T2
  117. Onward (2020), score by Jeff & Mychael Danna {01:06:00} T2
  118. Westworld S3E5 (2020), score by Ramin Djawadi {00:47:14} T2
  119. Cursed S1E4 (2020), score by Jeff Russo {00:06:47} T2
  120. Fantasy Island (2020), score by Bear McCreary {01:18:13} T3
  121. The Flight Attendant S1E8 (2020), score by Blake Neely {0:39:12} T3
  122. The Mandalorian Chapter 16 (2020), score by Ludwig Göransson {0:34:20} T3

  1. See Linda Schubert, “Plainchant in Motion Pictures: The ‘Dies Irae’ in Film Scores, ” Florilegium 15 (1998): 207-229; and Karen Cook, “Beyond the Grave: The “Dies Irae” in Video Game Music". ↩︎


Recent & Upcoming Talks

Youtube Explainer Videos

YouTube’s massive platform offers many benefits to the music scholar working in the public sphere. Engaging in such work is easy on YouTube, where an entire sub-genre of “Explainer” videos proliferates on virtually any topic. Music scholars, and especially film music scholars, are poised to excel on YouTube because they can easily substantiate their assertions in real time. In this presentation, I will discuss the background, creation and publication of two different videos.

The Rhythm of Life is a Powerful Beat: Following Fosse's Musical, Physical, and Visual Rhythms

Rhythm is the single thread connecting the many facets of Bob Fosse’s career. As a dancer and choreographer, Fosse focused on shaping the rhythmic properties of his stage shows; as a director, and de facto film editor, Fosse applied this fascination with rhythm in the editing bays. Despite a wide variety of dramatic content, these films are a unique opportunity to explore the role of rhythm in the editing of film musicals. Fosse directed five films in the span of one decade: Sweet Charity (1969); Cabaret (1972); Liza with a Z (1972); Lenny (1974); and All That Jazz (1979). Based on analyses of key scenes from Sweet Charity and All That Jazz, I have found that Fosse manipulates rhythm in three ways: musically (the performed musical score), physically (the staged choreography), and visually (the edited cuts). In this talk, I will examine two sequences that illustrate Fosse’s corresponding layers of rhythm and consider how this complex nexus helps to frame our understanding of film musical’s visual rhythm.


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