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Music in the Movies: experiencing something new

Uploaded by jas79 on Apr 30, 2001

Question:
“For the elements of music are not tones of such and such a pitch, duration and loudness, nor chords and measured beats; they are like all artistic elements, something virtual, created for perception . . .sounding forms in motion.” [Suzanne Langer, Feeling and Form (1952), p.107].

The success of music in film relies on the perceptions and interpretations of audiences based on their social experiences. Discuss.

Response to Question:
The function of film music is not easily defined. Film music is often associated with realizing the social experiences of the audience, such associations then leading into psychological and aesthetical discussion. Whether or not film music is examined as an analyzable art form, it is part of an audiovisual system that allows spectators to escape. If this is so, music is subliminal in the sense that it unconsciously prepares the spectator for the means by which to do so. Cinema events can allow audiences to perceive reality in a passive framework and therefore, the success of film music does not heavily rely upon interpretations of viewers’ social experiences. More to the point is the fact that film music allows a virtual reconstruction of ‘experience’ along with the proposal of new ones.

If cinema accommodates the invention of virtual social experiences, then by what means does the music contribute to this? An understanding of the relationship between music and the cinematic world of the ‘make believe’ will help to answer this question. Film music can allow far-fetched ideas to become plausible. Alien attacks, shootings, murders and court room hearings are not usually associated with the vocabularies of our everyday social experiences, so how can cinema extrapolate such experiences so realistically? Music certainly has an important role.

Suzanne Langer discusses in depth the associations between music and time. She suggests that:

Music creates and image of time measure by the motion of forms that seem to give it substance, yet a substance that consists entirely of sound, so it is transitoriness itself. Music makes time audible, and its form and continuity sensible.

Jean Mitry has similar ideas:

Film needed a king of rhythmic beat to enable the audience to measure internally the psychological time for the drama, relating it to the basic sensation of real time.

Consequently, film music can cover up the incoherencies between real time and virtual time. The relative time passed between events on screen can be expressed through the music. How else can a narrative spanning...

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Uploaded by:   jas79

Date:   04/30/2001

Category:   Film

Length:   8 pages (1,706 words)

Views:   1285

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