Music has been an integral part of Hollywood films ever since the 1930s. Musical figures can be used in many ways to enhance the movie narrative by bringing additional information to the on-screen picture, providing emotional qualities, and better shaping a character’s image and mental activities. Franz Waxman’s score to Sunset Boulevard, which won the Best Score at the 1951 Oscars, is a great example to explore how music components in a movie make up another layer of art on top of photography, writing and acting. This article mainly focuses on the scene where Joe Gillis first moved into Norma Desmond’s guest room above the garage, and explain how Waxman used musical components to present the symbolic motifs and underlying plot of the movie. This scene starts at Chapter 6 at 24:00 minutes and ends at 28:30, which is pretty early in the movie. There are three score excerpts associated with this particular scene and there are clear pauses in between the excerpts. I will go over each excerpts consecutively in the following paragraphs.

First Excerpt

The first score excerpt is non-diegetic and it appears in the scene from 24:00 to 24:22, where Joe follows Max to get settled down in the guest room after Joe Gillis’ first encounter with Norma Desmond, who forced him to stay overnight to help her finish the scripts. While they are walking upstairs to the guest room, the double bass plays pizzicato over Joe’s leitmotif, which first appears in bebop style at 2:50 when the narrator takes the audience to where Joe used to live in — an apartment house above Franklin and Ivar. The transcribed score is below :

Read more »


     The castrato was a musical practice and social convention that shaped 17th-century opera in Venice. It was first influenced by the Catholic church, but the rise and fall of the castrato closely paralleled the popularity of opera seria. To answer the question why the castrati phenomenon was so widespread in 17th century operas, I believe there are three aspects worthy of exploration — physical advantage the castrato had, cultural context that encouraged the development of the castrato; and the unique artistic use of the castrato in opera.

Read more »

Basic Knowledge Collection (First 20% of the interview)


  • Your question begins with “Why”, Problem description


  • functional requirements - hard requirements:
    • must achieve
  • non-functional requirements:
    • soft, but user experience oriented like latency, search speed, autocomplete…

Scale Estimation

  • QPS (Queries Per Second)
  • RAM size
  • Database size
  • Read/Write loads

Database Schema

  • What fields do we need
  • How many bytes per field
  • Total size per entry

System APIs

  • Define Key APIs
  • What are the Parameters for each of the APIs
    • name
    • type
    • is it optional
    • What are the entries in the returned JSON

Algorithm And Data Structure Design (30% of the interview)

Talk about what algorithms are associated with this problem

  • Evaluate the run time and memory usage
  • Compare different options and trade-offs (Bonus: a lot of interviewers love this)
  • Examples:
    • Hashing, MD5, SHA256, Base64 for URL encoding

Talk about what data structures to use for this problem

  • Best data structure for different data type:
    • Segment Tree, Priority Queue for sliding window or data stream
    • Quad Tree for Spatial or Geometrical data points
    • Trie/Prefix tree for Autocomplete

Dev Operation/Site Reliability/Maintenance (30%)

Data Partitioning

  • Sharding
  • Consistent Hashing

Replication and Fault Tolerance

  • CAP Theorem
  • Dockers/Kubernetes

General Improvements/Further Information (20%)


  • Redis, MemCache
  • Frontend Cache:
    • Talk about page stores like Mobx and Redux

Load Balancing / middleware to improve performance

  • Message Queue/Bus, Apache Kafka
  • NgNix For routing

Business Model (How to generate money with this app?)

  • VIP access
  • Ranking, Sorting Priority

Testing Strategy

  • How would you test each component


  • What’s the release cycle like

     As a student majoring in both music and computer science, I have always believed that different subjects share the common values and influence each other intrinsically and extrinsically. Even in the modern age, technology has been dominating the world and changing the way people live; good products are all inspired and influenced by art, culture, and mentality. However, back to the Romantic era, the mutually connected influences between music and literature are even more tight. Robert Schumann and E.T.A Hoffman are both great artists in the 19th century. Even though they were not close friends proved by any historical material, they shared the same spiritual connection between each other in the struggle against Biedermeier and ignorance over good and creative arts among the middle class. Comparing Hoffman’s The Life and Opinions of Kater Murr, and Schumann’s Kreisleriana, which Schumann was inspired by Hoffman’s writing of the character Kreisler, there are many interesting aspects to target and discuss. I think the most interesting crossing aspects Schumann and Hoffman share are Style, Unusual Form, and Spirit.

Read more »