The%20role%20of%20Music%20communication%20in%20cinema.pdf

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Pre-Press Version, revised February 14, 2004 Chapter to be included in Music Communication , (Miell, MacDonald, & Hargreaves, Eds.) published by Oxford Press The role of music communication in cinema Scott D. Lipscomb and David E. Tolchinsky Northwestern University Prelude Past research leaves no doubt that music is an effective medium for communication. When one considers, however, the matter of what it is that is being communicated “the plot begins to thicken,” to use a filmic metaphor. In the following pages, after presenting a general model of music communication, we will introduce models – both empirical and theoretical – of film music perception and the role of music in film, referencing some of the most significant research investigating the relationship between sound and image in the cinematic context. Finally, we shall enumerate the many ways in which the motion picture soundtrack can supplement, enhance, and expand upon the meaning of a film’s narrative, providing specific cinematic examples. Throughout this chapter, the terms film, cinema, and motion picture will be used interchangeably. The authors acknowledge the distinction between the three terms and the variety of media types upon which each may exist. Because sound can be congruent with an image, in dramatic opposition to what is expected, or simply different from what is conventionally anticipated, “the sound track can clarify image events, contradict them, or render them ambiguous” (Bordwell and Thompson, 1985, p. 184). The relationship between the auditory and visual components in cinema is both active and dynamic, affording a multiplicity of possible relations that can evolve – sometimes dramatically – as the narrative unfolds. This chapter will take a cognitive approach to the study of musical communication in cinema. As a result, much attention will be paid and credence given to the results of experimental research investigating the perception of human beings in response to the motion picture experience.
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