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The Role of Music in Storytelling

Matthew Hodge
Matthew Hodge Author Interview

Gotham City Sounds: The Music of Batman Villains is a case study on the psychological and emotional impact of the music used in the Batman franchise. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I’ve always been fascinated with the role of music in storytelling. Whether it’s on a stage or a screen, music can absolutely affect an audience on a primal level. A great score can inform how you connect with a specific character or story. I also think pop culture entertainment is a great window into deeper conversations about important things. It’s why I’m a professor who consistently use pop culture references and examples in my college courses I teach. And if I want to navigate readers through the psychology of music for tormented characters, I figured analyzing Batman villain scores would be a fascinating way to go about it!

What villain’s theme music is your favorite and why?

I personally have a deep love for Danny Elfman’s Batman Returns score. The way he aurally connects the three main characters (Batman, Catwoman, Penguin) with complementary yet individualized music themes is masterful and emotionally powerful. In my opinion, that score is perfection.

What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this book?

I wanted to make sure my second full-length book met the bar I had set for myself with my first full-length book Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse: A History of Jazz and Disney. I was so honored and humbled by the reception Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse received (including it earning half a dozen national award recognitions). Just like my Disney Jazz book, I wanted my Batman villain book to educate readers about our history of entertainment in a captivating way.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have several upcoming chapters in scholarly books being published in the next year. I’m also excited to be launching a new pop culture hub called POP PROFESSOR, which will be a website where I’ll offer blogs and videos covering bite-size presentations of fascinating pop culture things (similarly to my books). That can be found at, and my professional website is I’m also still a full-time university professor, and enjoy spending my days in classrooms with students.

Author Links: Amazon | GoodReads | Website

Why So Musical?
Move aside, Batman. It’s time for Gotham City’s infamous villains to take center stage! Whether through film, television, or video games, members of the Dark Knight’s notorious rogues gallery consistently come to life on screen with the help of creative scores constructed by masterful composers — the true unsung superheroes of Hollywood.
Award-winning composer, professor, and author Matthew Hodge shines a fascinating spotlight on the psychological and emotional musical representations constructed by composers for numerous portrayals of Batman’s iconic villains. These pages discuss dozens of Gotham City characters, including well-known villains and lesser-known troublemakers. From flamboyant tricksters and monstrous brutes to seductive femme fatales and complicated antiheroes, the musical possibilities are endless.
Gotham citizens, beware! Evil doesn’t just have a name and a face — it has a sound.

Gotham City Sounds

Award-winning composer author Matthew Hodge has created an alluring musical representation of Batman’s Villains. Dozens of familiar villains take center stage in each chapter, along with detailed character facts. The facts and content of Gotham City Sounds: The Music of Batman Villains are fun and intriguing. In addition, readers will find the history of the music and character development mentally stimulating.

Movies, video games, and TV shows use music to build drama and anticipation. These sounds stick with people long after the piece has ended. It allows foreshadowing without saying a word. Hodge dives into the psychological and emotional impact of the music given to villains in the Batman franchise. Readers will appreciate that he goes into detail, not just about the blockbuster movie, but the video games and television shows as well. This fascinating book looks into how music impacts the experience one has watching or playing the games.

Given the depth of the content, Hodge seems to know how to keep it lighthearted and easy to understand through his writing style. He sets the pace to allow the reader to focus and take in the content, giving each character its own chance to shine. Even minor villains are given a stage to shine as their music is just as relevant as the supervillains at creating an atmosphere of foreboding and anticipation. In addition, readers will appreciate how the chapters are divided up, allowing them to focus on one character at a time. This allows this stimulating book to be picked up when readers want just a quick read.

Gotham City Sounds: The Music of Batman Villains is a fantastic read for DC fanatics or film buffs. This would also appeal to music fans who want to look into pop culture music and its use in media. Finally, it would be a great and valuable source for university/college-level film study.

Pages: 258 | ISBN : 1683903218

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Fascinating Historic Intertwinements

Matthew Hodge
Matthew Hodge Author Interview

Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse explores the history of Disney and Jazz and how they’re related. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I thought this was an important book to write because I noticed through my personal studies and fascinations with Disney and jazz music that they had an incredible history together. Both worlds were vastly different, yet had decades of historic interactions that were inspiring, surprising, and even controversial at times. I describe it in the book as “two ships continually passing each other while sailing the same sea (or at times even crashing into each other).” I also noticed that although there were multiple books with specific sections highlighting these interactions, there was not one complete book that was entirely dedicated to these fascinating historic intertwinements. So, I decided to write one!

I loved all the bits of history and insider knowledge you provided. What kind of research did you undertake for this book?

As a professor and scholarly writer, I put a lot of emphasis on research. All of my writings for various academic books and journals are heavily researched and well-cited. And although I wanted this book to be more of a casual entertaining read (as opposed to the more formal textbook-style writings I frequently publish) I wanted the book to be just as thoroughly researched — hence the 18 pages of referenced research listed at the end of the book. Additionally, I knew Disney had interesting histories with not just artists from the ‘pure’ jazz world, but also from musical worlds that I refer to in the book as “jazz adjacent”. I knew some music purists might argue my discussions of these artists and genres that aren’t on the surface ‘pure’ jazz, so I make the case in the book to explain and defend why these “jazz-adjacent” stories should be included in the book.

What is one thing that stands out in your mind as the best marriage of Disney and Jazz?

Although there were times in history that these two worlds collided with friction and controversy (which this book does not shy away from discussing), the overwhelming thing that became evident through my research was how much affection was shared between the pioneering artists in the Disney and jazz (and jazz-adjacent) worlds. Some of the most successful and memorable Disney works were because of these musical artists, and many of these musical artists described their Disney partnerships as among their most creatively-fulfilling and personal favorite works. I found it inspiring how these two worlds consistently inspired each other.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

I hope readers take away a fresh way of looking at America’s history. Because these two worlds became quintessential entertainment for 20th-century America, their stories reflected the successes (and failures) of a nation. I describe them in the book as “two forever connected entertainment empires that helped define a country, to both its own people and to the rest of the world.” As readers learn entertaining and fascinating stories about the rise of Disney’s empire and significant music pioneers, I hope they take away a fresh perspective of American culture.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

What does a ‘King,’ a ‘Queen,’ a ‘Duke,’ and a talking mouse have in common? They are all part of the intricate tapestry that helped define American entertainment, built by two different, yet connected pioneering industries: jazz music and Disney.
Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse: A History of Jazz and Disney is a first of its kind. Award-winning composer, professor, and author Matthew Hodge offers this unique book as the first to entirely dedicate its pages to exploring the vast histories of these two worlds. While rising in popularity and importance during the same decades, jazz and Disney spent more than a century consistently intertwining in ways that are remarkable, inspiring, surprising, complicated, controversial, and everything in between.
Whether a jazz listener, a Disney lover, a fan of both, or unknowledgeable of either, this book will navigate readers through many fascinating stories. With nearly 300 significant jazz artists and Disney properties referenced in these pages, Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse guarantees to entertain and educate readers of all ages as they journey through America’s jazzy landscapes—sprinkled along the way with plenty of Disney magic.

Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse: A History of Jazz and Disney

If you are a fan of Disney and want to learn about Jazz music history then Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse is the book for you. Matthew Hodge sprinkles his story with all manner of delectable tidbits that people don’t know about Disney and Jazz. You can also learn about Tokyo Disney and the resorts worldwide, giving you a peek at some of the secrets and facts about the Disney organization that goes beyond just your home. In addition to that, you will learn the history behind your favorite movies as well! Are you in love with The Princess and the Frog Disney movie? In Matthew Hodge’s book you’ll learn about the creative directions that brought a new era to Disney movies and music!

I loved Disney when I was younger, so I was excited to read this book because I wanted to know the secrets behind the movies. It was also a way for me to realize that there were projects I had never heard of, which was impressive. I had never heard of the Happiest Millionaire, but I enjoyed learning about it and what it was inspired by. Earlier in my life, my favorite movie was the Emperor’s New Groove because it’s a redemption story, and honestly, Eartha Kitt was hilarious. I wanted to cry reading about her past and am glad that she could move past it.

People often reference ‘Disney magic’, well I think there is also such as thing as the magic of Jazz. Matthew Hodges is able to capture the magic in both of these things and bring them together in one sensational book that delivers intriguing facts with surprising bits of insider knowledge. I never realized these two, seemingly different, forms of entertainment shared so much history. With so many references to both Disney and Jazz there is literally something in here for everyone. Cool Cats and a Hot Mouse was one of the most surprising books I’ve read this year. I did not expect to be so fully entertained.

Pages: 190 | ISBN: 1683902688

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