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Film‐as‐Concert Music and the Formal Implications of ‘Cinematic Listening’

Film‐as‐Concert Music and the Formal Implications of ‘Cinematic Listening’ What does it mean for film music – subordinated, contingent, ‘unheard’ – to be plucked from its intended context and placed at the forefront of the listener's attention? The tradition of excerpting and arranging movie scores for the concert hall poses this question sharply. While scholarship on ‘cinematic listening’ has picked up in recent years, the specifically music‐theoretical issues raised by this repertoire have been largely unaddressed. In this article, I argue that film‐as‐concert music presents hearing ‘cinematically’ as a valid alternative to structural modes of listening, a form of hearing that subverts both naive formalism and reflexive anti‐formalism. Following a discussion of theoretical and interpretative priorities for analysing film‐as‐concert music, I begin investigation of a subset of the film‐as‐concert corpus: stand‐alone scherzi originating from action set pieces. More than any other type of underscore, action cues answer to dramatic, editorial and visual imperatives rather than to ‘absolute’ logic. My core data emerges from a detailed study of John Williams's film and concert scherzi, with short analyses of cues/pieces from E.T., the Indiana Jones movies and Star Wars. My approach emphasises the way in which formal alterations bring about drastically different ways of hearing the work tonally and expressively across multiple versions. A larger‐scale case study of ‘The Asteroid Field’ from The Empire Strikes Back serves to demonstrate the tonal, sectional and narratival transformations that occur between movie theatre and concert hall. To conclude, I propose that the film‐as‐concert mindset can be transferred to filmgoing itself, as a new mode of cinematic listening. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music Analysis Wiley

Film‐as‐Concert Music and the Formal Implications of ‘Cinematic Listening’

Music Analysis , Volume 37 (1) – Jan 1, 2018

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Music Analysis © 2018 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
ISSN
0262-5245
eISSN
1468-2249
DOI
10.1111/musa.12107
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

What does it mean for film music – subordinated, contingent, ‘unheard’ – to be plucked from its intended context and placed at the forefront of the listener's attention? The tradition of excerpting and arranging movie scores for the concert hall poses this question sharply. While scholarship on ‘cinematic listening’ has picked up in recent years, the specifically music‐theoretical issues raised by this repertoire have been largely unaddressed. In this article, I argue that film‐as‐concert music presents hearing ‘cinematically’ as a valid alternative to structural modes of listening, a form of hearing that subverts both naive formalism and reflexive anti‐formalism. Following a discussion of theoretical and interpretative priorities for analysing film‐as‐concert music, I begin investigation of a subset of the film‐as‐concert corpus: stand‐alone scherzi originating from action set pieces. More than any other type of underscore, action cues answer to dramatic, editorial and visual imperatives rather than to ‘absolute’ logic. My core data emerges from a detailed study of John Williams's film and concert scherzi, with short analyses of cues/pieces from E.T., the Indiana Jones movies and Star Wars. My approach emphasises the way in which formal alterations bring about drastically different ways of hearing the work tonally and expressively across multiple versions. A larger‐scale case study of ‘The Asteroid Field’ from The Empire Strikes Back serves to demonstrate the tonal, sectional and narratival transformations that occur between movie theatre and concert hall. To conclude, I propose that the film‐as‐concert mindset can be transferred to filmgoing itself, as a new mode of cinematic listening.

Journal

Music AnalysisWiley

Published: Jan 1, 2018

References