The music of Henri Tomasi (1901-1971) and the cinematic paradigm

Capulet, Emilie (2019) The music of Henri Tomasi (1901-1971) and the cinematic paradigm. In: The Music of Henri Tomasi (1901-1971) and the Cinematic Paradigm, 11 July 2019, London.

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The relations between music and narrative were sharply brought into focus in the 1920s and 30s when the new media of radio and cinema revolutionised compositional techniques and informed new aesthetic principles. As Finocchiaro has argued “we can speak of a cinematic paradigm within musical Modernism” (2017: 6). Henri Tomasi (1901-1971) was to become one of the pioneering composers of music for radio plays and films in France in the 1930s and 40s, working with Maurice Gleize, Jacques de Baroncelli, Maurice Cam and Marcel Pagnol (Jacono and Pons, 2015). Drawing on his experience as a professional piano improviser for silent films in the cinemas of Marseille and Paris in the 1920s, he forged a highly personal musical language, shaping modern forms of musical expression. His compositions reflect a fundamentally lyrical approach to music, leading him to become somewhat of a musical maverick in a context where melody and tonality were no longer common currency. In this paper, I will be arguing that Tomasi derived many of his compositional processes from cinematic techniques such as collage, montage, panning, dissolving and framing, and that this innovative approach to musical composition was trialled in his piano scores. His Paysages in particular are composed on three staves, the foregrounded melodic lines being interwoven within the varied dynamic planes and textures of the background elements, creating a rare sense of depth and perspective. The shifts of mood and colouring and a flexible approach to time and rhythm, suggest the fluidity and dramatic motions of a cinematic landscape in movement. Beyond this preoccupation with cinematic effects, I will be led to question his approach to narrative and semiotics in the light of what Irina Rajewsky has described as an intermedial process of transposition (2002) and what Jens Schröter has referred to as transmedial intermediality (2011).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: music, performance, cinematic, Henri Tomasi
Subjects: Music
Music > Music performance
Music > Musicology
Depositing User: Emilie Capulet
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2019 21:00
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:11

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