The 'Ancrage' effect of film on music in film-music concert pieces

Audissino, Emilio (2015) The 'Ancrage' effect of film on music in film-music concert pieces. In: Listening Cinematically, 25-26 June 2015, Royal Holloway, University of London. (Unpublished)

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Claudia Gorbman, after Barthes, calls ‘ancrage’ the ability of music to anchor an ambiguous image to a defined meaning (Unheard Melodies, p. 32). Similarly, Noel Carroll says that film music mainly operates in films as 'modifying music' (Theorizing the Moving Image, p. 141). In both proposals, music is seen as something that adds a stable meaning to the film's images. We can posit a similar function of the film's image when it comes to film music played in concert programmes. In these cases, it is the film that adds a stable meaning to the music being listened. This can happen either because of the listener's recollections of a set of visuals and moods triggered by the music previously heard in a given film, or, more directly, through the multimedia combination of the live musical performance with projected clips from the related film.
Film music as concert music has a peculiar aesthetic, one which is richer and more clear- cut in terms of extramusical associations than any other type of programme/applied music. To fully appreciate this interdependent nature of film music as something semantically and referentially rich – instead of automatically dismissing it as something merely functional and unable to stand on its own in the concert hall – it is necessary to adopt a cinematic way of listening. Film music in concert programmes should be enjoyed bearing the film in mind, and judged as to its ability to translate into music the moods and visuals of the film.
Some film-music concert pieces presented as case studies are John Williams' 'The Imperial March' (from The Empire Strikes Back, 1980), John Williams' 'Excerpts from Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Ennio Morricone's 'On Earth as It Is in Heaven' (from The Mission, 1986), and Monty Norman's 'James Bond Theme' (from Dr. No, 1962).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Film and television
Depositing User: Emilio Audissino
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2016 15:37
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:19

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