Analysing Film Through Music: How Musicology Can Aid in the Analysis of Film Sound and Narrative?
Film Soundtracks incorporate many factors: sound on screen, sound off screen, diegetic and non-diegetic sound, extra-diegetic sound. Film theorists, then, need to be accurate in desciption: this is where musicology enters the frame. Musical terminology permits the analyst to describe in a commonly understood lingustic framework exactly what is happening sonically within a film at a level which is so precise that it can help develop the formal understanding of the film as an intertext and result of collaboration. Many directors have expressed how important their choice of music and its placement has been in their films (for example Hitchcock, Losey and Kubrick) and these have been individuals who understand music on a level that is more than simply a broad brush stroke concerning style: the music can operate alongside the editing, the music can change the way in which we comprehend an image, the music can function as a character in itself (the chorus) weaving its way amongst the action. To analyse and communicate the nature of these operations demands that an expressive understanding of how film form and musical form intersect: how does a film visually end a fragment of action and indicate its movement forwards? How does the cadence (and what is its nature) within the musical accompaniment lead the spectator unknowingly towards the same narrative predictions? This paper will discuss all of these points and point sound theory in film towards some new possibilities.
Keywords: Music, Film, Sound, Image
Dr. E. Anna Claydon
Lecturer in Media and Communication, Centre of Mass Communications Research, University of Leicester