Assignment 1: Blog 5 – Music and The Moving Image

Since the world’s first talking picture in 1927, the electronic mediation of music has been integral in moving images and impacted the consumption of recorded popular music around the world (Negus, 1996). In addition McCabe (1998) states the film Performance paved the way for future film and give voice to the sounds and meaning of its moment. However while ‘spotting’, the paradox for directors and composers is making sure audio and visual sync and complement each other so the music accentuates and enhances the dramatic narrative.

Kaplan (cited in Negus 1966, p. 87) had presumed the image dominates the music and this was, therefore, a concern for musicians. However, I would argue music psychologically heightens suspense when visual cues are placed at specific points, adding emotional impact. I would also add that music in moving images has contributed to the popularity of different genres and engages audiences, increasing viewership and music consumption. Kassabian (2008), cited in Scott (2009) states the cue sheet is an important tool in its own right and should be as detailed as possible. Film scores and soundtracks draw the audience’s attention creating to the symbiotic relationship between visual and audio media. Similarly Kassabian (2008; 2009) states it “…offers a more expansive palette”.

The return of much waited for planet earth 2 narrated by Sir David has, transformed documentary film making and juxtaposes the “…conventional documentary style” Grimes (2015). The use of musical scores in planet earth especially trailer are vivid expression of atmosphere conveying different types of moods. This evokes grandeur movement, aggression, tension, anticipation and other mood narratives. Nonetheless, it is ‘passive’ rather than ‘active’ listening. I also refer to the much talked about nail-biting scene with the newborn baby marine iguanas, being chased by a slew of racer snakes. “Music in film is powerful. It enhances emotion, signals danger, accompanies epiphany, and depicts movement. It forms the aural element of an invented world, contributing to its authenticity and it vitality (Gengano, 2013, p.vii).

“Thanks to the radio and recording technologies, music is now the soundtrack of everyday life and no law is going to change that” (Frith cited in Clayton 2012, et al, p.150). The meticulous use of ‘serious’ music with its salient effects helps the viewer/audience to reimage scenes guiding them to understand wildlife with a new perspective. The audiences are taken on a journey around the globe to places and landscapes (Islands, mountains, Jungles, deserts, grasslands and cities) that one could never have imagined possible with accompaniment from the well-orchestrated music by Hans Zimmer, a well-acclaimed composer, and original music written by Jacob Shea and Jasha Klebe.

I would argue that the style and tone of music alters how a scene is perceived if used properly otherwise it may overpower the visual, narrative and be a distraction to the audience. According to Kassabian (2008), cited in Scott (2009) a cue sheet should reasonably answer the questions;

  • What do we hear that we don’t see?
  • What do we hear musically that we don’t hear verbally?
  • What do we hear musically before hearing it verbally or seeing it?
  • What is the audience perspective?

 

References

Clayton, M., Herbert, T. and Middleton, R. (2012) The cultural study of music: A critical introduction. 2nd edn. New York: Routledge.

Gengaro, C. L. (2013) Listening to Stanley Kubrick: The music in his films. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press.

Grimes, M. (2015) Call it crass but there is no authority but yourself: De-canonizing punk’s underbelly. Punk & Post Punk, 4(2), pp. 189–204. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/punk.4.2-3.189_1.

McCabe, C. (1998) Performance. London: BFI Classics.

Negus, K. (1996) Popular music in theory: An introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Scott, D. B. (2009) The Ashgate Research Companion To Popular Musicology. London: Ashagte.

 

Bibliography

Björnberg, A. (1994) Structural relationships of music and images in music video. Popular Music, 13(01), p. 51. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s026114300000684x.

Clayton, M., Herbert, T. and Middleton, R. (2012) The cultural study of music: A critical introduction. 2nd edn. New York: Routledge.

Gengaro, C. L. (2013) Listening to Stanley Kubrick: The music in his films. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press.

Grimes, M. (2015) Call it crass but there is no authority but yourself: De-canonizing punk’s underbelly. Punk & Post Punk, 4(2), pp. 189–204. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/punk.4.2-3.189_1.

McCabe, C. (1998) Performance. London: BFI Classics.

Mundy, J. (1999) Popular music on screen: From the Hollywood musical to music video. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Negus, K. (1996) Popular music in theory: An introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Scott, D. B. (2009) The Ashgate Research Companion To Popular Musicology. London: Ashagte.

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2 thoughts on “Assignment 1: Blog 5 – Music and The Moving Image

  1. As a fan of Planet Earth myself, I find this very interesting to read. I’d explore more on the part where you stated it was passive rather than active listening, as television was always addressed by many scholars to be a “passive” habit while people just laying on the couch and not really “watching”. Do music and sound really captivate the viewers’ attentions or are they only in the background? Hans Zimmer’s work is very influential, I’d maybe point out a few more of his works in comparison, such as The Lion King which has received several Grammy awards including the Best Instrumental Arrangement.

  2. I found this subject incredibly interesting. I completely agree with your points about music providing extra emotion to the moving image. I believe that you should open up a larger discussion on the subject of active/passive listening, as that may allow you to explore in more detail just how music can affect the consumer whilst watching a film/video in various ways. Could the example that you have used in this discussion be compared to another piece? if so, you could talk about how others have used music to provide more impact to their film/video.

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