Group 6: The Arts

IB Visual Arts Textbooks

Understanding Art
Author: Lois Fichner-Rathus
Pages: 624
Levels: SL and HL
Buy: Amazon, Worldwide (free shipping)

A big, heavy, and expensive volume, Understanding Art is an essential read for any IB Visual Arts student. The books almost every form of art, including architecture, film, painting, print, and craft works, and is well laid out with many examples. This is a really good book to help students understand ‘writing about art’ tasks.

IB Music textbooks

As with the rest of the IB Group 6 subjects, there are no IB-specific textbooks written for the course. Nevertheless, there are still a range of books that are highly rated by IB Music teachers across the world.

The Cambridge Music Guide
Author: Sadie & Latham
Pages: 546
Levels: SL and HL
Buy: Amazon, Worldwide (free shipping)

The Cambridge Music Guide is an extensive reference book for Western music. It is well laid-out and illustrated and contains extensive listening notes for each piece.

How Music Works
Author: John Powell
Pages: 272
Levels: SL and HL
Buy: Amazon, Worldwide (free shipping)

How Music Works is a guide to harmony, keys, broken chords, perfect pitch and all the secrets of a good tune – from a scientific and psychological perspective. The book is very accessible and an essential read for any IB Music student.

IB Film Textbooks

There are no official or dedicated textbooks for the IB Film course, primarily because the IB Film syllabus focuses on skills rather than content and does not require the study of any particular films, genre, or directors. However, there are a number of books and other resources that IB Film teachers have found useful when teaching the course:

Looking at Movies, 4th Edition
Author: Richard Barsam
Pages: 640
Levels: Applicable to SL and HL
Online support: Website (access with book purchase)
Buy: Amazon, Worldwide (free shipping)

Looking at Movies provides IB Film students with an introduction to film analysis. The book concentrates somewhat less on the history of film and more on analytical skills. As such, it is particularly useful for oral presentation (commentary) tasks. Although there are a few elements that are not fully relevant to the IB Film course (such as costume), Looking at Movies examines the pertinent aspects of film, including cinematography, editing, sound, and mise-en-scene, to a good level of detail, with hundreds of colour photographs to illustrate the concepts.

The 3rd edition, also very useful, is still available and is somewhat cheaper.

The Story of Film: An odyssey
Author: Mark Cousins
Pages: 512
Levels: Applicable to SL and HL
Buy: Amazon, Worldwide (free shipping)
Kindle version: Yes

The Story of Film accompanies the 15 hour documentary of the same name, and contains just as much – if not more – detail and fascinating insight into the development of modern film. Starting in 1885 with the advent of silent film, the book examines the development of world cinema, through the development of sound in film to the modern digital era. This book may be particularly useful for students writing their Film Independent Study (script), and it is somewhat easier to find pertinent information in the book than the 15 DVDs.

IB Film DVD Resources

As might be expected from a Film course, many teachers and students find a number of DVDs very helpful as well:

The Story of Film: An Odyssey
Author: Mark Cousins
DVDs: 5 (916 minutes)
Levels: Applicable to SL and HL
Buy: Amazon

The Story of Film: An Odyssey is a critically acclaimed documentary that covers the history of film from pioneers and early directors like the Lumière brothers, Georges Méliès, and Walsh, through to modern more masters. The 15 episode series presents film in roughly chronological order (from first recordings to digital film), but each episodes also covers the full spectrum of film. For example, episode 5 covers 1939-1952 but examines films from Ford’s 1939 Stagecoach to Nolan’s 2008 The Dark Knight in order to put the developments of the period into context. Although no teacher is likely to show the full 900 minutes to a class, the many examples from the full era of film make these DVDs excellent supporting resources – especially for oral presentation (commentary) and independent study (script) assessment tasks.

Landmarks of Early Film, Volume 1 (1902)
DVDs: 1 (117 minutes)
Levels: Applicable to SL and HL
Buy: Amazon

Landmarks of Early Film is a collection of early films that are ‘essential viewing’ for IB Film students. The films include Edison’s Kinestoscopes from the late 1890s, the Lumiere brothers’ ground-breaking actualities, and Georges Melies work, including Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon).

Buyers should be aware that Landmarks of Early Film is not a documentary, but a collection of early film classics grouped together with the convenience of DVD menus and chapters. However, even in this form it is incredibly useful and will save teachers and students hours of searching for early film clips online – where they are often low quality or edited.

Landmarks Early Film Volume 2 (1904)
DVDs: 1 (100 minutes)
Levels: Applicable to SL and HL
Buy: Amazon

Volume 2 of Landmarks of Early Film is subtitled The Magic of Melies and focuses on the work of Georges Melies, with 15 of his works on this disk. Films included are:

  • The Impossible Voyage (1904)
  • The Untamable Whiskers (1904)
  • The Cook in Trouble (1904)
  • Tchin-Tao: The Chinese Conjurer (1904)
  • The Wonderful Living Fan (1904)
  • The Mermaid (1904)
  • The Living Playing Cards (1905)
  • The Black Imp (1905)
  • The Enchanted Sedan Chair (1905)
  • The Scheming Gambler’s Paradise (1905)
  • The Hilarious Posters (1905)
  • The Mysterious Retort (1906)
  • The Eclipse (1907)
  • Good Glue Sticks (1907)
  • Long Distance Wireless Photography (1908)

As with volume 1, buyers should be aware that Landmarks of Early Film is not a documentary (although it does contain a short 20 minute documentary on Melies) – it is primarily a collection of early film classics grouped together with the convenience of DVD menus and chapters. However, even in this form it is incredibly useful and will save teachers and students hours of searching for early film clips online – where they are often low quality or edited. Also note that probably Melies’ most famous work – Le Voyage dans la Lune (A Trip to the Moon) – is not on this disk, but is on volume 1.

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