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All sessions take place on Thursday afternoon/evening on Zoom. UK times are displayed (GMT).
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14th January 2021, 4-5pm
1: Technological Methods in Practice and Analysis (moderator: David Cotter, University of Cambridge)
Georgia Brown (QMUL): Vivien Leigh: Introducing a Data-Driven Analysis of Vocal Performance
Jack Laidlaw (University of Newcastle): Exploring Maximalism via Audiovisual Practice
Vivien Leigh: Introducing a Data-Driven Analysis of Vocal Performance (Georgia Brown, QMUL)
Abstract: The critical analysis of film acting is founded upon descriptions of actor's physical movements. These descriptions are based on definitions of established dramatic gestures used when acting in the theatre. Beyond using broad brushstrokes adjectives - such as louder, softer, shouting, whispering - little attention is given to the vocal aspect of a screen actor's performance. However, when an actor chooses to emphasise certain words, or parts of words, they are providing their interpretation of the script, as well as demonstrating their ability to control their vocal delivery. Although referring to the performance of music, Elaine Chew's theory that a performance is shaped by the performer rather than by the score, can be applied to an actor and the script. It is the acoustic stresses within an actor's delivery, that indicate to the audience the actor's intended interpretation. By modulating their voice quality, pitch contour (intonation) and timing, an actor is able to convey different emotions.
Using Vivien Leigh as a case study, this paper will introduce the methodology of using software originally developed to analyse music performances to study how Leigh used her voice and vocal control within her onscreen performances. This method provides a view of the prosodic prominence and overall rhythms in each of Leigh's vocal performances by analysing the suprasegmental characteristics of accented words and the associated changes in the fundamental frequency (F0). Thereby enabling a detailed analysis of the subtle nuances within Leigh's vocal delivery and how those reveal her interpretation of the script and her characterisation.
Biography: Georgia Brown is a PhD researcher in the department of Film Studies at Queen Mary, University of London. Her research studies the prosodic prominence and overall rhythms in each of Vivien Leigh's onscreen performances, by analysing the suprasegmental characteristics of accented words and the associated changes in the fundamental frequency (F0). This study will develop an understanding of how Leigh's voice was impacted by ageing and illness and how this has affected her star image. Georgia has presented her research at the University of Lincoln as part of the Extra Sonic Practice series, the Stardom and the Archive conference at the University of Exeter and, at the BAFTSS Stardom and Performance symposium.
Exploring Maximalism via Audiovisual Practice (Jack Laidlaw, University of Newcastle)
Abstract: In this session I will present my work so far exploring 'maximalism' as an aesthetic in audiovisual practice. Concepts may include: the meeting of extremes, complexity, impurity, obfuscation, rapid modulation, perceptual shifts. Environments used include TouchDesigner, Ableton Live, p5.js, Processing.
Biography: My creative practice research is primarily audiovisual work using text-based and data-flow programming environments. My PhD project is focussed on developing a usable framework for exploring 'maximalism' in the context of audiovisual digital art. My background is in music and music technology, all of my professional work is hosted on http://jacklaidlaw.com/. My most recent project involved some Arduino programming and sound generation for an interactive artwork which was exhibited in Vilnius, Lithuania.
21st January 2021, 4-5pm
2: Contemporary Media Production (moderator: Toby Huelin, University of Leeds)
Júlia Durand (CESEM - NOVA FCSH): A matter of time: library music, online videos, and the implications of sped-up production
James Peter Moffatt (University of Liverpool): Netflix, Daredevil and the Changing Aesthetics of 'Film' Music [Video essay]
A matter of time: library music, online videos, and the implications of sped-up production (Júlia Durand, CESEM - NOVA FCSH)
Abstract: The industry of library music has grown considerably in the past two decades due to its transition to a digital medium. With a proliferation of online catalogues, there are increasing numbers of composers who rely on library music as a full-time job or for a side income, as well as creators of audiovisuals who use it in their content. This expansion has emphasised a fundamental aspect of library music: the need to create large quantities of tracks, often at breakneck speed. This fast-paced production gives library music companies a competitive edge by ensuring their catalogue is constantly renewed and up to date with current trends. In the case of some online platforms where royalty-free music is licensed, the algorithm encourages composers to release tracks frequently, in order to increase their chances of success – just as youtubers, who constitute a very significant portion of royalty-free music’s client base, are encouraged to upload videos constantly so as to remain “relevant”.
Taking into account the latest developments in this music industry, I will explore the implications of the sped-up production of both library music and online videos, departing from two main research questions: how is the creation and use of library music shaped by a sense of urgency that is prevalent in the work of composers and videographers/video editors? What are the implications of this perceived “lack of time” for library music’s structure and sonic characteristics, as well as for the ways in which it is synchronized with moving images?
Biography: Júlia Durand is a musicology PhD student at the NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal. She is a member of the Center of Sociology and Musical Aesthetics (CESEM) and takes part in the research activities of its Group for Studies in Sociology of Music (SociMus) and Group for Advanced Studies in Music and Cyberculture (CysMus). In addition to several papers on music and audiovisuals presented at international conferences such as Music and the Moving Image, her research has been published as chapters in edited volumes and in the journals Music, Sound and the Moving Image and Revista Portuguesa de Musicologia. Her PhD is funded with an FCT grant (SFRH/BD/132254/2017), and it focuses on the production and use of library music in online videos.
Netflix, Daredevil and the Changing Aesthetics of 'Film' Music (James Peter Moffatt, University of Liverpool)
Abstract: This video essay uses a comparative analysis of the compositional strategies and commercial contexts of scoring two filmic iterations of Marvel’s franchise. The 2003 feature film Daredevil and the 2015 Netflix Original Series, of the same name, are based on the same comic book characters and narratives and shared similar budgets. However, approaches to writing the music are vastly different. The 2003 version leans towards a traditional orchestral score, recorded at the Newman Scoring Stage at 20th Century Fox. The 2015 score leans towards a more electronic, textural sound-palette, recorded at composer John Paesano’s home studio. This paper suggests that transitions towards digitisation, multi-episodic series, and the changing responsibilities of the composer, have led to shifts in ‘film’ music aesthetics. Technology has radically impacted, not only the working practices of industry professionals, but also the way in which work is delivered and consumed. U.S. and U.K. movie-theatre attendance hit a 25-year low in 2017 (The Verge, 2019). The same year, audiences around the world spent 1 billion hours a week watching Netflix (Statista, 2019). Similar budgets used to develop 2-hour feature films are now being used to produce 10+ hour multi-episodic series (Wilkins, 2017; Statista, 2018). With more content to score, often in shorter timeframes, for the same cost and to similar ‘cinematic’ expectations, these changes can have a material effect on music for new media. This paper explores these issues within the industrial turn, more generally, with the growing use of Digital-Audio-Workstations and technology as a creative tool.
Biography: James Peter Moffatt is a Composer, Musician, Record Producer & Academic who has scored numerous award-winning international films (House of Cardin, We Are Dancers), working alongside the likes of Academy-Award and BAFTA winning Ben Wilkins (Star Trek, Whiplash, The Sopranos), Ken Scott (The Beatles, David Bowie) and Ray Russell (John Barry Seven, A Touch of Frost). His work has been broadcast and recognised by the likes of BAFTA, BBC, Venice Film Festival, Rolling Stone Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter. James is also the recipient of AHRC funding, pursuing a PhD in Film Music at the University of Liverpool, and is a Senior Lecturer in Film Music at Leeds Conservatoire.
28th January 2021, 4-5pm
3: Twentieth Century Audiovisuals (moderator: Elsa Marshall, University of Sheffield)
Annika Forkert (RNCM): Elisabeth Lutyens's Horror
Filipa Magalhães (CESEM - NOVA FCSH): Documenting production processes for the recovery of Constança Capdeville’s music-theatre works. The creation of a proper environment for their preservation
Elisabeth Lutyens's Horror (Annika Forkert, RNCM)
Abstract: Composer Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-1983) worked in what she called different musical ‘goldfish bowls’ throughout her career. She wrote music for the stage and concert hall; radio scores for the BBC Features department; incidental music for theatre productions; and over 100 scores for film and television features ranging from small promotion films for petroleum companies in the late 1940s to Hammer and Amicus thrillers in the 1960s. In this paper, I analyse the aesthetics, compositional strategies and collaborations behind Lutyens’s music for these larger-scale Hammer and Amicus film scores of the 1960s, which include Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, Paranoiac, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, The Skull, The Psychopath, and Theatre of Death. Lutyens perceived her growing reputation in the British film business as a danger to her efforts as a ‘serious’ composer and, while proud of this financially rewarding work, sought to distinguish it as ‘journalistic’ from her stage and concert music. She therefore developed working strategies to attach distinct sets of values to her differing types and styles of composition and to pitch her music to specific listener expectations. I analyse excerpts from her film scores and contextualise genre expectations of the time and Lutyens’s aesthetic strategies, which resemble those of craftsmanship as theorised by Richard Sennett.
Biography: Annika is a Lecturer in Music at the Royal Northern College of Music. A musicologist specialising in 20th-century British music, modernism, and female composers, she holds a PhD in Music (Royal Holloway, London, 2014), and a Magister Artium degree in Musicology and Philosophy from Humboldt-University Berlin (2010). She currently works on a monograph about the music and collaborations of composer Elisabeth Lutyens and conductor Edward Clark and has published articles on early-twentieth century microtonal aesthetics (JRMA 145/1, 2020) and Lutyens's 'magical serialism' (Twentieth Century Music 14/2, 2017).
Documenting production processes for the recovery of Constança Capdeville’s music-theatre works. The creation of a proper environment for their preservation (Filipa Magalhães, CESEM - NOVA FCSH)
Abstract: Constança Capdeville (1937-1992) was one of the Portuguese composers who fought most for her place in contemporary Portuguese music, she is the greatest representative of music-theatre in Portugal. Capdeville’s musical works may be approached as a heterogeneous counterpoint which incorporates elements from different natures, such as: music, word, gesture, light, magnetic tape, among others. All of this proved very difficult to understand and contributing to her music-theatre work being gradually forgotten over decades and no longer undergoing reproduction. The application of different varieties of elements, mostly unwritten on conventional scores and instead inscribed in scripts or graphic scores or other additional documents poses certain problems especially as such works end up being avoided both in the classroom and similarly on stage.
The creation of a proper environment allowing the active preservation of digital performances, enabling the aggregation of an infinite number of documents of diverse natures, would be desirable. In this paper, we attempted to generate an articulation between all the above-mentioned elements through recourse to a documentation model that gathers the different sources comprising music-theatre works, and that document the production processes of these performances, to systematize the information according to author’s intention through the appropriate treatment of the sources, their mutual interactions, and the production of documentation through the testimonies of the composers/performers/musical assistants. Capdeville’s impact on the contemporary Portuguese music context clearly ensures the worth of including the problems that derive from this repertoire in the classroom just as importantly as is their re-performance.
Biography: Filipa Magalhães concluded her Doctoral Degree at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, in the field of Musicology, with a dissertation entitled “A música já não pode viver sozinha”: da interação rumo à identidade na obra de Constança Capdeville. She worked on a set of music-theatre compositions by Capdeville with the purpose of recovering them through documentation. She focused on an interdisciplinary framework that included preservation, computer sciences, digital philology and musical analysis studies, enabling her to expand her technical skills in the field of musicology. In her early career stage, her capacity to achieve the level of excellence expected of a mature international scholar reflects through the expansion made in the field of contemporary Portuguese music preservation with the publication of 4 articles in international peer-reviewed journals and 3 conference proceedings, also presenting papers at 18 international conferences.
4th February 2021, 4-5:30pm
4: Film and Musical Performance (moderator: David Cotter, University of Cambridge)
Clare Lesser (NYUAD): ‘No Room is Actually Empty’ (John Cage): The Interface between Film and Music in John Cage’s HPSCHD and One¹¹ and 103
Elizabeth Hunt (University of Liverpool): A New Synchresis: The Recontextualisation of Music from Audiovisual Media in Live Performance
Henry Balme (Yale University): Towards a Theory of Visual Music
‘No Room is Actually Empty’ (John Cage): The Interface between Film and Music in John Cage’s HPSCHD and One¹¹ and 103 (Clare Lesser NYUAD)
Abstract: HPSCHD (1969) and One¹¹ and 103 (1991/2) are perhaps pinnacles of experimentation for John Cage, and this in a career that contained an abundance of experimentation. Both works embrace the audio-visual but could not be more different in performance, seemingly representing the opposite poles of shared urban chaos and individual contemplation. HPSCHD, a multi-media event combining film, audio ‘found objects’, live performance and mobile audience, co-created by Cage and Lejaren Hiller, is closer to a multi-media ‘happening’ than any conventional work for film and music, while One¹¹, described by Joan Retallack as 90 minutes of ‘the chance determined play of electric light’ to be ‘performed’ by a camera operator (rather than a musician) accompanied by the orchestral score 103, seems closer in tone to the supreme levels of stillness and contemplation reached by Cage in works such as ASLSP (1985) and ASLSP (1987). Both works were created using chance procedures derived from the I-Ching, both were composed with (for the time) cutting edge computer technology, but in One¹¹ the chance procedures are used to control every aspect of the filmed ‘performance’ (lighting, crane position, camera angle, editing and so on) while in HPSCHD and 103 they are used to determine a field of possibilities and their assemblage.
This talk will explore these two important works in Cage’s oeuvre, which are only recently beginning to receive serious critical scrutiny.
Biography: Clare Lesser specialises in the performance of twentieth century and contemporary music. She has given over seventy-five world premieres and has made critically acclaimed recordings of vocal music by Wolfgang Rihm, Michael Finnissy, Heinz Holliger, Richard Emsley, Milko Kelemen, Hans Werner Henze and Giacinto Scelsi on the Métier label. She has performed throughout Europe and the Middle East, including at the Edinburgh, Gaudeamus, Avignon and Huddersfield International Festivals and is currently engaged on major performance projects with Michael Finnissy and Hans-Joachim Hespos. Her research interests focus on deconstruction, indeterminacy, graphic scores and variable form composition, and she has recently completed a PhD (University of York) on deconstructive approaches to indeterminacy in post WWII music. She is lecturer of music at New York University, Abu Dhabi.
A New Synchresis: The Recontextualisation of Music from Audiovisual Media in Live Performance (Elizabeth Hunt, University of Liverpool)
Abstract: In the study of music and audiovisual media, little research has discussed the live performance of music from films, television and video games. Such concerts are performed in venues with greater frequency each year and are not only a growing phenomenon but a source of reliable ticket sales and income for concert venues. My research aims to discuss concerts of music from commercial audiovisual media and how audiences interact with texts through these concerts.
I will discuss the selection of performance repertoire, relating to cult media and expressions of identity through fan interaction with this media. I will also discuss the draw of certain concerts or song selections to the nostalgic identity of its viewers and the complex expression of identity that takes place on the side of the consumer, through purchasing tickets through to their attendance and varying modes of interaction (including cosplay, the purchasing of concert merchandise and social media posts).
Due to the nature of these concerts, my research examines the different ways that music from audiovisual media is performed for a variety of genres and mediums. To do so, I will discuss a variety of movies, television shows and video games, these include: Star Wars (dir. George Lucas, 1977), The Little Mermaid (dir. Ron Clements and John Musker, 1989), Game of Thrones (Benioff and Weiss, 2011 – present), Doctor Who (Newman, Webber and Wilson, 1963 – present), Pokémon (Game Freak, 1996 – present) and The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo, 1986 – present).
Biography: Elizabeth Hunt is currently studying for the completion of her PhD at the University of Liverpool. Her thesis, working title 'A New Synchresis?: The Recontextualisation of Music from Audiovisual Media in Live Performance', brings together research on the orchestral concert performance of music from film, television and video games. Hunt's research into video game concerts will feature in a forthcoming edited collection on video games and nostalgia in a chapter titled 'My Childhood is in Your Hands: Video Game Concerts as Commodified and Tangible Nostalgic Experiences'.
Towards a Theory of Visual Music (Henry Balme, Yale University)
Abstract: Visual music is a hybrid art form that combines music with abstract imagery. Examples can be found across different media such as color organs, cymatics, and musical fountains. From the 1920s, artists increasingly favored film as a medium for marrying non-representational art with music. Filmmakers such as Mary Ellen Bute and Oskar Fischinger, for instance, created non-narrative animations by choreographing abstract, colorful shapes to classical music. This otherworldly aesthetic sets these films apart from more conventional types of cinema such as fictional films and documentaries, which depend on live action photography and narrative storylines to convey their contents.
While film scholars such as Aimee Mollaghan and William Moritz have produced important scholarship on visual music, they have been somewhat vague when it comes to pinning down the exact influence of music. My contribution as a musicologist is to highlight the different ways in which filmmakers used music to craft the animations themselves. Specifically, I offer three models of intermediality which I call mimetic, choreographic, and conceptual. Together, they form the kernel for what I envision to be the first theory of visual music in film, which I hope to illustrate in my presentation with diagrams and clips from representative films by Bute, Fischinger, and others. With this theory, I believe we can gain a better understanding of the techniques and practices that inform not only visual music, but also other products of audiovisual culture, such as musicalization software, concert lighting, and the music video.
Biography: Henry Balme is a PhD candidate in music history at Yale University, where he specializes in audiovisual media. His dissertation gives a historical and theoretical account of visual music, a genre of experimental film that blurs the boundaries between sound and abstract art.
11th February 2021, 4-5pm
5: Industry Interview (moderator: Melissa Morton, University of Edinburgh)
Interview with Tony and Gaynor Sadler (BAFTA award-winning composers for TV and advertising)
Composing team Tony and Gaynor Sadler have written and produced over 4,000 pieces of music. They met as undergraduates at the Royal College of Music and have since received many awards—including a BAFTA—for their prolific work in music and sound design. Credits include hit records for acts such as Talk Talk and Spandau Ballet; branding for the BBC (include the famous BBC2 idents); and advertising campaigns for the National Lottery, Heineken and BMW. Come along to our session to learn about their creative process in composing for the screen, and their views and experiences of the industry.
18th February 2021, 4-5pm
6: Creating and Experiencing Space (moderator: Georgia Brown, QMUL)
Andrew Knight-Hill (University of Greenwich): Audiovisual Space: Recontextualising Sound-Image Media
Sam Gillies (University of Huddersfield): Composing with Frames and Spaces: Cinematic Virtual Reality as an Audiovisual Compositional Practice
Audiovisual Space: Recontextualising Sound-Image Media (Andrew Knight-Hill, University of Greenwich)
Abstract: The spatial turn, which swept the wider humanities, has not significantly contributed to inform our understandings of sound and image relationships. Bringing together spatial approaches from critical theory and applying these to the re-evaluation of established concepts within electroacoustic music and audiovisual composition, this talk seeks to build a novel framework for conceiving of sound and image media spatially. The goal is to negate readings of sound & image media as oppositional strands which entwine themselves around one another, and instead position them – within critical discourse – as complementary dimensions of a unified audiovisual space.
Standard readings of audiovisual media are almost ubiquitous in applying temporal conceptions, but these conventional readings act to negate the physical material of the work, striate the continuous flow of experience into abstract points of synchronisation and afford, therefore, distanced observations of the sounds and images engaged. Spatial interpretations offer new opportunities to understand and critically engage with audiovisual media as affective, embodied and material.
The perspectives within this research have potential to be applied to a wide range of sound & image media: from experimental audiovisual film and VR experiences, to sound design and narrative film soundtracks; benefitting not only academics and students, but also creative industry practitioners seeking new terminologies and frameworks with which they can contextualise and develop their practices. Audiovisual space positions potentiality and anticipation to replace notions of dissonance and counterpoint, enabling the reframing of terminologies from electroacoustic music such as gesture and texture in light of their common spatial properties.
Applying practice research perspectives and phenomenological analyses of the author's creative works GONG (2019) and VOID (2019), along with perspectives from embodied cognition, spatial approaches are demonstrated to embrace materiality, subjectivity, and embodied experience as fundamental elements within our understandings the audiovisual.
This research is funded by the AHRC through their Leadership Fellowship programme.
Biography: Andrew Knight-Hill (1986) is a composer of electroacoustic music, specialising in studio composed works both acousmatic (purely sound based) and audio-visual. His works have been performed extensively across the UK, in Europe and the US. Including performances at Fyklingen, Stockholm; GRM, Paris; ZKM, Karlsruhe; New York Public Library, New York; London Contemporary Music Festival, London; San Francisco Tape Music Festival, San Francisco; Cinesonika, Vancouver; Festival Punto de Encuentro, Valencia; and many more.
His works are composed with materials captured from the human and natural world, seeking to explore the beauty in everyday objects. He is particularly interested in how these materials are interpreted by audiences, and how these interpretations relate to our experience of the real and the virtual.
He is Senior Lecturer in Sound Design and Music Technology at the University of Greenwich and programme leader of Sound Design BA. He is an AHRC Leadership Fellow researching "Audiovisual Space: Recontextualising Sound and Image Media" and CoI for the AHRC Research Project "Sonic Palimpsest: Revisiting Chatham Historic Dockyards".
Composing with Frames and Spaces: Cinematic Virtual Reality as an Audiovisual Compositional Practice (Sam Gillies, University of Huddersfield)
Abstract: This project offers a creative investigation into the medium of Cinematic Virtual Reality, identifying the distinguishing characteristics of the medium as they relate to the technical, thematic and aesthetic language of an audiovisual compositional practice. Drawing primarily on CVR as a cinematic construct, this investigation focuses on two key concepts that differentiate CVR from fixed frame media: frames (the window in which the virtual world is composed and navigated by the viewer) and spaces (the relationship between the viewer and the surrounding virtual environment). This talk will discuss these concepts, how they differ from conventional fixed frame audiovisual composition, and how these ideas underpin the work of the author's creative practice.
Biography: Sam Gillies is a composer and sound artist with an interest in the function of noise as both a musical and communicative code in music and art. His work treads the line between the musically beautiful and ugly, embracing live performance, multimedia and installation art forms to create alternating sound worlds of extreme fragility and overwhelming density. Sam’s work has been programmed and exhibited at both national and international conferences and festivals, including the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, UK; Test Tone Series at Superdeluxe, Tokyo; and the International Computer Music Conference. In 2016, Sam was awarded the Liz Rhodes scholarship in musical multimedia from the University of Huddersfield. He completed his PhD in 2020, under the supervision of Prof Monty Adkins, and is currently a Research Assistant on the 'Gerhard Revealed' project. His use of harmony was once described by Pierluigi Billione as being "like a beautiful questionmark."
25th February 2021, 4-5pm
7: Film, Television, and the Construction of Identity (moderator: David Cotter, University of Cambridge)
Rachel Garratt (University of Leeds): Television for the Deaf: Deafness, Technology and Identity
Conor Power (Maynooth University): Hymn to the Fallen: Constructing American Values in Saving Private Ryan
Television for the Deaf: Deafness, Technology and Identity (Rachel Garratt, University of Leeds)
Abstract: The National Institute for the Deaf pursued two initiatives regarding television in the period 1950-1960. The first was to provide free television sets and licenses to deaf people, whilst the second was a project to broadcast segments accessible to deaf children within the popular BBC programme Children’s Hour. In this paper I will explore how the National Institute for the Deaf presented television sets and specialised broadcasts as enabling developments for deaf people in the UK, going so far as to label it the ‘perfect’ technology for those with hearing impairments. However, the issue of the auditory component of television and a lack of enthusiasm amongst deaf people revealed that their unstated aim was to legitimise deafness as a significant disability and as an issue worthy of public awareness and sympathy. Television became a battleground between the NID and hearing public, as the NID used disabling narratives when trying to present television as an essential technology for deaf people. They were fighting against historic perceptions of blindness that considered the disability a far greater tragedy than deafness, with blind individuals and the charitable institutions representing them receiving far greater public consideration, as evident in the hugely successful Wireless for the Blind Fund in the 1920s. Later, television became a battleground within Deaf histories, as scholars who objected to those who defined deafness as a disability sought to write the NIDs’ paternalistic television campaigns and oral, auditory communication methods out of their cultural history.
Biography: Rachel Garratt is a third-year doctoral candidate and part of the White Rose Electronic Soundscapes Network. Her thesis focuses on the enabling and disabling effects of talkie cinema, wireless and television on d/Deaf people in the early to mid-twentieth century. Her project explores how d/Deaf people engaged with or rejected new soundscapes, how this contributed to the divergence of d/Deaf identities and how questions of d/Deaf identity are expressed in historiography. Her wider interests include disability, media and gender histories.
Hymn to the Fallen: Constructing American Values in Saving Private Ryan (Conor Power, Maynooth University)
Abstract: Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998) opens with a shot of the billowing American flag accompanied in John Williams’s score by quietly noble solo horn and brass chorale. It is a musical gesture widely associated in Hollywood film with American heroism. This paper explores how Williams’s score constructs and reinforces the idea of America through musical tropes developed in cinema but sourced in a range of musical idioms. I begin by sketching the genealogy of this constructed American sound, tracing its roots to art music traditions represented by composers such as Copland and the American symphonists and to traditions such as American hymnody and military bands. The pastoral figures prominently here too: in what Neil Lerner terms ‘the music of wide open spaces’, the quintessential American landscape of the Midwest becomes associated with a Coplandesque musical language constructed with open fourths and fifths and scored characteristically for gentle woodwind choirs and muted brass.
The conjunction of Spielberg’s American heroes and imagery (Private Ryan’s home is in the prairie), with Williams’s score successfully constructs American ideologies and beliefs, fusing the idea of heroism with America’s history and identity. I conclude by arguing that Saving Private Ryan, like other films in the Spielberg/Williams partnership, has contributed to a universalisation of American values in which a specifically American representation of the heroic has become equated in popular culture with the very idea of heroism.
Biography: Conor is a second year PhD researcher at Maynooth University. Having studied John Williams’s music for Star Wars at undergraduate and master’s level, Conor is continuing his research on Williams under the supervision of Professor Christopher Morris. Moving away from his previous theses on leitmotif functionality and musically-generated nostalgia, his current research is concentrated on the links between the American symphonic idiom to the heroic and pastoral topics in Williams’s film scores. Conor was a recipient of a Taught Masters Scholarship in 2018, and is currently funded by the Hume Doctoral Scholarship.
4th March 2021, 4-5:30pm
8: Music and the Body (moderator: Georgia Brown, QMUL)
Jessica Shine (Munster Technological University): “He has music in him” – Musical moments and corporeality in Joker (2019)
James Millea (University of Northampton): “Come On, Get in Rhythm”: Genre, Popular Music, and the Disruption of the Mediated Black Body in Jordan Peele’s Us (2019)
Kate Maxwell (University of Tromsø): Music and the pornographic spectrum
“He has music in him” – Musical moments and corporeality in Joker (2019) (Jessica Shine, Munster Technological University)
Abstract: Several scholars (Winters, 2009; Kulezic Wilson, 2019; Walsh, 2017) have discussed how the use of music in cinema adds to its corporeality and both fleshes out and gives life to otherwise spectral images. Todd Philips’ Joker both narratively and aesthetically leverages music to embody Arthur Fleck’s (Joaquin Pheonix) transformation from outcast to popular villain. In a Q&A with The Academy, Philips described the character of Fleck as full of grace and someone who “has music in him”, and it is Fleck’s performative interaction with the music as he becomes the Joker that leads to the corporeal reading of the film presented in this paper. At the beginning of the film, Fleck is a thin and gaunt man, a ghostly figure lacking love or meaning, but he soon grows more bold and violent. Fleck’s horrifying acts of violence are accompanied by his bodily interaction with the music as he dances to both the soundtrack and the score as if it were emanating from him in some meta-diegetic sense. The Joker is a deeply musical film and its protagonist engages with both Hildur Guðnadóttir’s composed score and its compilation soundtrack, giving physical form to his metamorphosis. This paper investigates how the musical moments in Joker give corporeal form to Fleck’s alter ego and simultaneously encourage audience identification with its protagonist’s transformation as fans respond performatively to the Joker with their own memefied imitations of the film’s musical moments.
Biography: Currently a lecturer in the Department of Media Communications at Munster Technological University. Completed a Doctorate on the topic of sound and music in Gus Van Sant's ""Death Quartet"" in the School of Music and Theater at University College Cork under the supervision of Prof. Christopher Morris (NUIM) and Dr Danijela Kulezic Wilson. Current research focuses on the use of sound and music in film and television with a particular interest in soundscapes, aesthetics and narrative. I have an MA in Film Studies (also at UCC), with a dissertation topic on music and race in Disney’s cartoon musicals. I have published my work on Peaky Blinders with Musicology Research and on Sons of Anarchy in Bonds of Brotherhood: Essays on Gender and Masculinity in Sons of Anarchy and on Crazy Ex Girlfriend in Music and the Moving Image. I have presented my work at a range of international conferences including the Music for Audio-Visual media at the University of Leeds and at Music and the Moving Image in NYU.
“Come On, Get in Rhythm”: Genre, Popular Music, and the Disruption of the Mediated Black Body in Jordan Peele’s Us (2019) (James Millea, University of Northampton)
"I think one of the great films that carried a powerful social message was Night of the Living Dead (1968), and that movie was about race even though they don’t really talk about race in the film. I wanted to sort of follow that approach with this movie”. - Jordan Peele, 2019.
Although we tend to focus on the story and images of horror, it is often in the sounds and music of the genre where this cinema is most affective. Horror uses sound as a space to challenge its audience by drawing them closer to the troubling scenes onscreen. In Jordan Peele’s sophomore film, Us (2019), this sonic space is occupied not just by the score of collaborator Michael Abels but with a distinctive collection of popular music.
Peele affords considerable screen time to songs from NWA, Minnie Riperton, and Luniz in Us. Artists like these are foregrounded at key junctures throughout the film, playing out across the film's images loudly and often in full. However, beyond the dissonance of strange imagery with familiar and often up-beat melodies, Peele’s promotion of pop music in this film is challenging more so because it proffers a disruption of the mediation of race through the horror genre.
As a cine-literate director, Peele’s film is stuffed with overt references to film history. Calling specifically on the lineage of horror, the story and images of Us nod to films like The Birds (1963), Jaws (1975), and Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), amongst others. Equally referential, the prominent pop music of Peele’s work sets out a clash with these visual references. In this film, the visual conventions of the horror genre and its cinematic history, in which Black bodies are at best neglected and at worst brutalised, bump into the lyrics and sounds of Black voices as they echo freely across the screen. It is these moments, in which the director calls on his audience to question entrenched understandings of the mediated Black body in mainstream cinema, that this presentation looks to explore.
Biography: Originally from the Republic of Ireland, James has just joined the University of Northampton from the Music Department at the University of Liverpool, where he was recently awarded his PhD in popular music and audiovisual media (2020). Funded by the School of the Arts at the University of Liverpool and the National University of Ireland (NUI), where he became a Travelling Scholar in Music in 2016, his doctoral research explores the relationship between hip hop music and the narrative film soundscape in New Black Realism, independent Black American cinema of the 1990s. As well as speaking at various conferences and invited talks across Ireland and the UK, James has published on his doctoral research on both sides of the Atlantic, with his most recent work appearing in the upcoming Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Music (2020).
Music and the pornographic spectrum (Kate Maxwell, University of Tromsø)
Abstract: "While studies of the history of pornography are entering the scholarly arena, the role of music in the long history of representing sex has hitherto been overlooked. This talk will address this gap, taking music's part in various media into account. Pornography as a concept emerged only relatively recently, around the same time as the emergence of the ‘work concept’; this is why notions such as ‘the bawdy Middle Ages’ and ‘repressed Victorians’ have become so easily embedded in the popular imagination. In fact, sexual imagery is rife in most (if not all) musical genres: music and sex are bedfellows of old.
This talk will therefore outline some of the ways in which music has been used to support, frame, or even hide the sexual act over time. The visual mode is at least as essential as the audio, and my examples include the charivari depicted in the fourteenth-century Livre de Fauvel (F-Pn fr 146), opera, children's music, hip hop, and internet pornography. I will argue that the boundary between ‘pornography’ and ‘mainstream’ is porous and ever-changing, and that it is more productive to think about media and the representation of the sexualised body as a spectrum. Indeed, when we make a distinction between 'porn' and 'not porn', we ignore – or worse, silence – the margins around these supposed opposites. "
Biography: Kate Maxwell is professor of music history at UiT - The Arctic University of Norway. She works primarily on music in multimodal contexts, both medieval and modern. She is currently working on a book that traces the history of music and pornography through medieval manuscripts, opera, children's music, popular music, and internet porn. She also researches gender, music notation, and pop culture, is a composer, and plays clarinet. Her co-edited journal issue of Nordlit, entitled "Conceptualizing the North" (co-editors Lilli Mittner and Hammer Hammer Stien), will be published in December.
11th March 2021, **7:30-8:30pm**
9: Music in Recent British Television (moderator: Melissa Morton, University of Edinburgh)
Will Stanford Abbiss (Victoria University of Wellington): Sounds of the Past: Music in 2010s Period Drama
Melissa Beattie (Independent Scholar): ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want:’ Death in Paradise’s Use of Reggae
Sounds of the Past: Music in 2010s Period Drama (Will Stanford Abbiss, Victoria University of Wellington)
Abstract: In my PhD thesis, I studied six period dramas from 2010s television: Upstairs Downstairs (BBC/Masterpiece, 2010), Dancing on the Edge (BBC, 2013), The Crown (Netflix, 2016-present), The Living and the Dead (BBC/BBC America, 2016), Dickensian (BBC, 2015-16) and Parade’s End (BBC/HBO, 2012). While each of these dramas uses diegetic and non-diegetic music in distinctive ways, I was not able to directly draw the connections between them in the context of my establishment of a post-heritage critical framework (Abbiss, 2020). This presentation will aim to address this, outlining the characteristics of the music deployed in each drama and identifying how these operate alongside visual and narrative elements. Moments will be identified where music evokes spectacle and nostalgia, but also where it helps to undermine these modes. For example, Dancing on the Edge utilises 1930s-style jazz music performed within the drama; this provides spectacle and establishes the serial’s cultural moment, but takes on a more troubling aspect as the narrative approaches its climax. The Crown’s music, meanwhile, develops through multiple composers over successive seasons, as its narrative moves through the decades of the twentieth century and further away from traditional period drama characteristics. Analysing elements such as these will allow me to come to a hypothesis on the role sound can play in contributing to period drama innovations, which can be considered alongside the broader conclusions of my doctoral work.
Abbiss, Will Stanford (2020). "Proposing a Post-heritage Critical Framework: The Crown, ambiguity, and media self-consciousness." Television & New Media 21.8: 825-41.
Biography: Will Stanford Abbiss recently completed his PhD study at Victoria University of Wellington. His doctoral work establishes a ‘post-heritage’ approach to the study of television period drama, focusing on British productions in the 2010s. He is now in the early stages of framing a postdoctoral project, broadening his research to other countries and cultures to consider questions of nationhood and the continued role of public service television. His work has been published in Television & New Media and the Journal of British Cinema and Television, with a contribution to the ‘Sound/Image’ volume of Moments in Television (Manchester University Press) forthcoming. He has spoken at international conferences in Denmark and Australia, and contributed to online conferences held by the Literature/Film Association and the Sydney Screen Studies Network.
‘You Can Get It If You Really Want:’ Death in Paradise’s Use of Reggae (Melissa Beattie, Independent Scholar)
Abstract: British/French co-production Death in Paradise (BBC 2011-) has become one of the flagship series of BBC1. Set on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint Marie and filmed on Guadeloupe, the series frequently uses reggae amongst other perceived-local styles as diegetic and non-diegetic music. Reggae is historically a music of resistance, specifically resistance to oppression by white colonial power structures (King et al, 2002). The premise of Death in Paradise follows a series of white, male, British or Irish DIs who take over the local Black police force. The DS is a series of Black Frenchwomen who are either the love interest for the DI or an extremely supportive subordinate. While the perpetrators are a mix of locals, tourists and foreign residents, the Black supporting characters, subordinates all, constantly point out how brilliant and wonderful their white male, British or Irish DI is and how much they depend on his expertise. That a British/French co-production uses reggae to reinforce an elided pan-Caribbean location can be read as stereotypical. When added to a British/French series such as this, with what can be read as colonialist discourses, the readings can become problematic. This paper, part of an intended-larger project which will ultimately also use audience research, examines the argument that, rather than simply being part of the series’ banal diegetic nationalism (i.e., the series’ flagging itself as a particular identity/-ties, Beattie 2020) the use of reggae in this context can be read as subverting the genre’s original anti-colonialist context and supporting a (perceived) colonialist reading for the series.
Biography: Dr Melissa Beattie was awarded a PhD in Theatre, Film and TV Studies from Aberystwyth University where she studied Torchwood and national identity through fan/audience research as well as textual analysis. She has published and presented several papers relating to transnational television, audience research and/or national identity. She has worked at universities in the US, Korea and Pakistan.
18th March 2021, 4-5pm
10: Industry Interview
Interview with Dean Humphrey (Sound Designer for film and television; previous Head of Editing, Sound and Music at NFTS)
Dean is a César award-winning and BAFTA-nominated sound mixer whose 40 year career spans blockbuster films and TV, working with directors including Ridley Scott, Luc Besson and Bernardo Bertolucci. He was also the previous Head of Editing, Sound and Music at the National Film and Television School.
25th March 2021, 4-5:30pm
11: Worldbuilding in Film and Video Games (moderator: Elsa Marshall, University of Sheffield)
Dan White (University of Huddersfield): One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor: Sound and Music as Suture in the Opening Sequences of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth Films
Stefan Greenfield-Casas (Northwestern University): Worldbuilding Through Preexisting Music and Remediation in the Kingdom Hearts Series
One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor: Sound and Music as Suture in the Opening Sequences of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth Films (Dan White, University of Huddersfield)
Abstract: The opening sequences of narrative films are perhaps the most important moments for establishing a coherent film-world and drawing a viewer into a space and time often quite different from their own, and yet these moments remain largely untheorised within film studies and film music theory in particular. This paper analyses the uses of music and sound in the opening sequences of one of Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth trilogies: The Lord of the Rings (2001-2003). The paratextual nature of opening sequences might lead us to understand them as theoretical gateways or airlocks, but it is the psychoanalytical concept of suture that proves most effective in theorising music’s dual roles in drawing an audience into a film-world and simultaneously building that world around them.
Biography: Dan White is a lecturer in musicology at the University of Huddersfield, and is interested in film music, fandom and consumption and transmedia storytelling. His recent article in Music, Sound and the Moving Image forms the basis of this paper, and he also has a forthcoming monograph in the Ashgate Screen Music Series, provisionally titled 'Fantasy Film Music: On the Creation, Evolution and Inhabitation of Musical Worlds'. This draws on Dan's doctoral research, which focuses on musical, sonic and transmedial worldbuilding in fantasy franchises.
Worldbuilding Through Preexisting Music and Remediation in the Kingdom Hearts Series (Stefan Greenfield-Casas, Northwestern University)
Abstract: The now-classic PlayStation 2 game Kingdom Hearts (2002) was the result of a synergetic collaboration between two media powerhouses: Walt Disney Studios and SquareSoft. In the game, characters from both franchises cohabitate the many in-game “worlds” players must save from evil. These worlds are largely built upon the settings of Disney movies (e.g., the “Halloween Town” world based on Disney’s Nightmare Before Christmas (1997)), with Kingdom Hearts composer Yoko Shimomura oftentimes arranging the original music from these films to be incorporated into the game. Here, then, preexisting music literally contributes to the process of worldbuilding.
In this paper, I draw on the Kingdom Hearts series (2002 – present) to show how arrangements of preexisting music can be used as worldbuilding devices across and between franchises. Expanding upon James Buhler’s (2017; cf. Godsall 2019) notion of musically “branding” the franchise, I consider the politics of what happens when two media franchises are merged. Drawing on the writings of Robert Hatten (1994, 2014) and David Neumeyer (2015), I analyze this dialogic relationship between preexisting musics (as well as newly composed music) through the lens of musical troping. I conclude the paper by considering how “Dearly Beloved” -- Kingdom Hearts’ main theme -- has similarly been arranged for the concert hall, thus bridging our “real” world with the virtual world(s) of the game through a process of remediation.
Biography: Stefan Greenfield-Casas is a PhD candidate in music theory & cognition and affiliate of the Interdisciplinary Program in Critical Theory at Northwestern University. His research focuses on the intersection(s) of music, myth, and media, especially through the arrangement and "classifying" of video game and film scores. He has presented papers at various national and international conferences, including meetings of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, the Royal Musical Association, Music and the Moving Image, and the North American Conference on Video Game Music. Stefan's forthcoming publications include invited chapters in The Music of Nobuo Uematsu in the Final Fantasy Series, The Oxford Handbook of Arrangement Studies, and The Oxford Handbook of Video Game Music and Sound. He has also contributed shorter essays to the American Musicological Society and Ludomusicology Research Group's respective blogs.
Sessions continue on 29/04/2021 at 4pm (GMT)