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20th October 2022, 4-5pm (chair: Jenny Citarelli, The Hartt School, University of Hartford)
Film Music in the Concert Hall
A History of Film Music in Concerts: Moving Image Music's Journey to the Concert Hall (Elizabeth Hunt, University of Liverpool)
Insincere Inclusion? Or Ignorant Appropriation? — A Symphony Orchestra plays South Indian Film Music (Sureshkumar P. Sekar, Royal College of Music)
A History of Film Music in Concerts: Moving Image Music's Journey to the Concert Hall
Elizabeth Hunt, University of Liverpool
Abstract: This paper aims to present a history of moving image music concerts. Moving image music concerts, within the confines of this study, refer to live orchestral concerts of music originally written for film, television, and video games. My research aims to analyse such concerts by first contextualising them in history. The research discussed here draws upon the few existing publications by Mccorkle Okazaki (2020), Audissino (2021), and Sureshkumar (2022), all of which discuss concerts of film music. I expand upon these scholars’ studies, particularly through archival research, and as a result of this I hope to elaborate on the brief details given within their works.
I will open first discuss Promenade concerts, with a particular focus on the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Following this, I will present my findings on the earliest moving image concerts. The paper gives a timeline of the development of moving image music’s performance. I will demonstrate the impact that composer John Williams has had upon the presentation of film music within an orchestral concert setting and trace through the increase in concert performance that can be seen following this. In addition, I will introduce the categorisations which I will be using for concerts within my study and illustrate how the varying presentations of moving image music in concert map onto the given history.
Bio: Elizabeth Hunt is a PhD student studying at the University of Liverpool. Her thesis, current working title ‘A New Synchresis?: The Recontextualisation of Moving Image Music in Live Performance’, focusses on concerts of music from film, television, and video games. Outputs of this research can be found in her contributions to edited collections including ‘My Childhood Is In Your Hands: Videogame Concerts as Commodified and Tangible Nostalgic Experiences’ (2022) and ‘Video Games Live and the Gamification of the Orchestral Experience’ (forthcoming).
Insincere Inclusion? Or Ignorant Appropriation? — A Symphony Orchestra plays South Indian Film Music
Sureshkumar P. Sekar, Royal College of Music
Abstract: In this paper, I use Lars Ellestrom’s intermedial theory to analyse the aesthetic experience of an Indian audience listening to an Indian film score performed without Indian instruments.
In October 2019, at the London Royal Albert Hall, a symphony orchestra performed the entire score live to the projection of the South Indian film Baahubali (2015). In Indian films, as Morcom (2001) said, “both songs and backing scores… [employ] Hollywood-style symphonic music and some of its distinctive techniques…”. The instrumentation in the score of Baahubali is symphonic, synth-fused, eclectic, and even anachronistic, but is also unmistakably Indian with vocal aalaps, polyrhythms, and gamaka-laden microtonal melodies played on Indian instruments.
In Baahubali Live concert, one media product, the recorded score of an Indian film that had never been performed in front of an audience, is transferred, to another media product, a live musical performance. Lars Ellestrom says that a media transfer means, “keeping something, getting rid of something else, and adding something new”, and that a media transferred is a media transformed. In this concert, many delicate Indian melodic parts heard on bansuri, veena, nadhaswaram, sitar, sarod, and santoor in the original film were reproduced—hence transferred and transformed—using a guitar, an electronic keyboard, and western woodwinds. These approximations rendered some dramatic moments in the film wholly inert. By ‘keeping’ only the Hollywood-style symphonic music and ‘getting rid’ of the acoustic materiality of the Indian melodic instruments, the film/music lost some of its cultural specificity and therefore its syncretic affectivity.
Bio: Sureshkumar P. Sekar is a third year PhD candidate from the Royal College of Music, London, and an RCM Studentship holder. He is a mechanical engineering graduate who worked as a software engineer for fourteen years before pivoting to arts. He holds an MA with distinction in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He is investigating the experience of the audience attending Film-with-Live Orchestra concerts. His recent publication in the peer-reviewed journal [in]Transition, a video essay entitled “Film-with-Live-Orchestra Concerts: A New Hope”, was nominated for the Learning on Screen Awards 2022.
3rd November 2022, 4-5pm (chair: David Cotter, University of Cambridge)
Interdisciplinary Considerations in Audio-Visual Composition and Analysis
“It’s Like Poetry, They Rhyme”: Operatic structure, musical/audiovisual and emotive conventions in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (Sebastian Rodriguez Mayen, University of Ottawa)
Inclusive listening: considering the sound/image synergy of an object for audio-visual composition (Alessia Anastassopulos, University of Huddersfield)
“It’s Like Poetry, They Rhyme”: Operatic structure, musical/audiovisual and emotive conventions in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Sebastian Rodriguez Mayen, University of Ottawa
Abstract: “It’s Like Poetry, They Rhyme”, is a known quote by George Lucas, which has been used (and abused) by his fans when referencing his work on shaping the parallels of his prequel trilogy of Star Wars (EP. I, II, III), in relation with the original trilogy (Ep, IV,V,VI). However, the expression can be self referential, it is to say, it can be applied to elements in the prequels themselves. The place where such a poetic idea resounds stronger is in the successful finale of the prequel trilogy, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Being its dramatic climax, sometimes this episode’s structure mirrors that of an opera. This paper will analyze, using methods explored by Michael Chion, Emilio Audissino, James Buhler and David Neumeyer, how the musical structure of the whole episode does mirror some of the most recognizable traditions of opera, particularly that of the 19th Century. My proposed methodology will analyze this film through its audiovisual structure, but also through commutation tests on key narrative moments to check for such perceptive effects.
Bio: Sebastian Rodriguez Mayen has followed an academic career both as an historian (BA from University of Alberta – Campus Saint-Jean) and a musicologist (MMus from Université de Montréal). He completed his most recent degree in 2018 under the tutelage of Marie-Hélène Benoit-Otis with a Master’s Thesis about pacifism in Western art music, studying the work of Britten, Foulds, Shostakovich and Bernstein. Sebastian has since collaborated on her project about the propagandistic uses and abuses of Mozart’s music during the Third Reich. He has presented working papers for conferences in Canada and France about diverse topics ranging from music and propaganda (MUSCAN, Edmonton 2021) to music-hall historiography (Le Music-Hall après le music-hall, Paris 2022). Sebastian was selected for the Interdisciplinary PhD in Music in 2020 given his mutual interest on history and music at the University of Ottawa.
Inclusive listening: considering the sound/image synergy of an object for audio-visual composition
Alessia Anastassopulos , University of Huddersfield
Abstract: This research's main interests are the ways of listening to the concrete sounds of the everyday environment and the sound/image synergy as an implication for the choice of artistic material used in audio-visual composition.
This study wants to investigate our relationship with the everyday environment, using inclusive listening as a means for audio-visual composition. Inclusive listening is a state of awareness that moves us to consider the audio-visual object in its entirety while selecting composition material.
This concept implies selecting objects for both their visual and sonic connotations. Regarding the sonic, inclusive listening comprises the sound that an object generates at the moment of selection as well as the ones it could produce.
This study draws from a context of research in concrete sound initiated by the Groupe de
recherches musicales, which served as a foundation for research in sound awareness brought forward by the World Soundscape Project. Beginning from Schaeffer's concept of écoute réduite (Schaeffer, 1966) then going through Chion's added value (Chion, 1993), Garro's audio-visual object (Garro, 2005), Hyde's visual suspension (Hyde, 2012), Mcdonell's visual listening (Mcdonell, 2020) and Boucher's understanding of meaning in the audio-visual
practice (Boucher, 2020), this presentation will start by considering the different modes of listening to concrete sound and arrive to the concept of inclusive listening which will be demonstrated through excerpts of work. In soundscape composition, the creative process starts with sound awareness. The attention we give to the environment can determine what material we use in our creative work. With inclusive listening, both the visual and the object's sonic properties determine our choices.
This research has been implemented through a qualitative approach and a practice-based work that has led to the creation of a series of audio-visual compositions.
The presentation will be brought forward using examples and excerpts from two recent works: The Crocodile and The Sound Dealer. These two compositions, that contrast in terms of length and production technique, feature objects selected through inclusive listening for their audio-visual properties. These objects appear in the works in their sonic/visual entirety.
Bio: Alessia Anastassopulos is an Italo-Greek musician. Starting in childhood with a classical training through the study of the violin, she obtained a Bachelor's degree in violin performance in 2015. Developing a musical interest in Music-therapy, she achieved a professional diploma in Music Therapy in 2017 and continued her studies with a Master's degree in Music and New Technologies that she completed in 2018, obtaining 110/110 Magna Cum Laude by presenting Dialogues, a series of six short audiovisual compositions.
In the last five years, her interest has been directed towards sound and image and from 2016 to the present year, her audiovisual compositions have been selected for projection in Italy and abroad. Her recent audiovisual composition I speak the city has won in 2020 the Best Director and Best Screenplay at the Maverick Movie Awards and has been selected in 2019 for the Sound
And Vision International Film & Technology Festival of New York. Alessia has had the chance to collaborate in 2017 with the Astronomical Observatory of Arcetri (Italy) for creating the soundtracks of the early 1900 short films used in Visione Notturna V – Silent Moonshow which had it's opening at the La Compagnia cinema of Florence. In the same year, she collaborated with the NGO Emergency for the original audiovisual composition Saadwhich was projected at the Arsenale Cinema of Pisa.
Currently a second-year Ph.D. music student at the University of Huddersfield, her research focuses on the use of concrete sound for narrative through audiovisual composition.
17th November 2022, 4-5pm (chair: Elizabeth Hunt, University of Liverpool)
Mediating Dance: Exploring Gamification and Livestreaming
Composer to Chartist to Player: How Dance Dance Revolution (and derivatives) Created a Notational Template for Rhythm Games (Jenny Citarelli, The Hartt School, University of Hartford)
“No Screenshots on the Dance Floor”: Livestreaming and the Digital Mediation of Electronic Dance Music Events (Ben Assiter, Goldsmiths, University of London)
Composer to Chartist to Player: How Dance Dance Revolution (and derivatives) Created a Notational Template for Rhythm Games
Jenny Citarelli, The Hartt School, University of Hartford
Abstract: As rhythm game trends have come and gone, the “4 panel dance game” first popularized by Dance Dance Revolution (or DDR) has endured since its first release in 1998. As I will argue, this may be due in part to the elegant and effective system by which the player is given input and rhythmic information. Most 4-panel games feature a notational system based upon western rhythmic notation, and a corresponding judgement system emphasizing rhythmic accuracy. Once learned, this allows songs (or charts) to be easily sightread by a skilled player. Like sheet music to the musician, this makes charts easier to learn, easier to retain, and pleasurable to revisit even after a long time away. On a chart without any special features or oddities, this allows a competent player to perform well even upon first playthrough. From a ludological perspective, this is a laudable achievement. This enables players to enjoy an effectively infinite amount of content with little additional training and without the need for pre-existing knowledge of the new song or chart. This creates a smooth and ludically satisfying loop which may have allowed 4-panel to uniquely endure as game, sport, and “instrument.” This presentation explores this elegant system, its evolution, and what it offers to chart developers and players alike.
Bio: Jenny Citarelli (she/her/hers) is a doctoral candidate in Composition at the Hartt School of Music and a scholar, music director, and collaborator with a passion for queer representation in composition and music leadership. Her most notable major work to date is “Trebles in Paradise,” an original musical highlighting struggles of queer college students with inclusion, self-discovery, and self-acceptance. At Hartt, she served as teaching associate for the course “Composing for the Theatre.” Her musical research and interests lie in ludomusicology, musical theatre, and cognition. Jenny also works as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion assistant at Amherst College, where she supports and facilitates initiatives aimed at creating an equitable campus environment for traditionally marginalized groups.
“No Screenshots on the Dance Floor”: Livestreaming and the Digital Mediation of Electronic Dance Music Events
Ben Assiter, Goldsmiths, University of London
Abstract: This presentation focuses on the growing relationship between digital media and electronic dance music events, exploring the unique circumstances of COVID-19 as an acceleration of existent tendencies, traceable back to the rise of the influential streaming platform Boiler Room. While framing this history primarily as a fragmentation of localised scenes and the co-present socialities that are core to dance music culture, I also draw attention to the ways in which livestreaming was used during the pandemic as an infrastructure to sustain otherwise isolated, and often marginalised, musical communities. In this way, livestreaming may also be productively situated as part of a history that includes jungle pirate radio and grime YouTube videos, in which interactive media technologies widened access to electronic music and transformed the relationship between urban music cultures and their associated geographies. Where these technologies grew in part as a response to the regulation of physical events via legislation including the controversial Form 696, I also contextualise the growth of livestreaming during the pandemic in relation to London club culture’s longer-standing spatial precarity. By way of an ending, I present a brief outline of SODAA – an emergent collaboration between DJs, partygoers and coders – who are exploring forms of online and IRL collaboration in working towards a decentralised governance model for a venue in London.
Bio: Ben Assiter is a PhD student in the music department at Goldsmiths, University of London. His thesis focuses on London's electronic dance music scenes and spaces, exploring their relationship to contested notions of the nighttime as cultural territory, economic category and site of urban governance. Ben is active in these scenes as a DJ and producer and performs internationally as live touring drummer with James Blake.
1st December 2022, 4-5pm (chair: Geneviève Bazinet, University of Ottawa)
Film Music Significations and Transformations
Scoring 'Africa': Film Music as Cultural Colonialism (Maria Fuchs, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna)
The Transfigurations and Significations of ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ in an Expanding Transmedial World (Dan White, University of Huddersfield)
Scoring 'Africa': Film Music as Cultural Colonialism
Maria Fuchs, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
Abstract: "Africa" found its way into cinema as early as the silent film era, for example, as a topos in the various music libraries. Entries such as "cannibal," "jungle music," "wild music," etc. are indicative of the colonialist foreign designations in anthologies that were associated with the African continent and that set racist stereotyping processes in motion. The audiovisual clichés meant to suggest otherness, exoticism, and alterity can still be found in contemporary film and television today.
In the "Africanized" Heimatfilm (sentimental film, in regional settings), whose emergence is related to the success of the novel "The White Masai" (1998) and which is a subgenre of the German-Austrian Heimatfilm of the post-war period, typically white Europeans seek their professional or private happiness in "Africa". In the process, the African continent and its inhabitants are staged in a foreign way also in the soundtrack, and racist stereotypes and colonial ways of thinking are reproduced in the audiovisual representation.
In this lecture, I would like to use the example of this German genre of the "Africanized" Heimatfilm, which has been successfully broadcast on German television since the late 1990s, to question the neo-colonial sound practices not only on the textual level, but also on the level of the musical production of television itself. In doing so, I draw on Marc Slobin's (2008) as well as Mera's and Morcom's (2009) ideas about global perspectives on the soundtrack and aim to take up the debates of the intersections between ethnomusicology and screen music studies.
Bio: Maria Fuchs is a Senior postdoc at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, leading the FWF project "Soundscapes of 'Heimat': Musical Mapping in Heimat and Mountain Films (1930-1970)" and currently teaching at the University of Salzburg. Before she was an Erwin Schrödinger Fellow (postdoc) at the Center for Popular Culture and Music at the University of Freiburg. Her research focuses on popular and cross-media phenomena of music of the 20th and 21st centuries, especially on screen music and sound studies.
She is the author of the book Stummfilmmusik. Theorie und Praxis im 'Allgemeinen Handbuch der Film-Musik’ (1927), Marburg 2017.
The Transfigurations and Significations of ‘Hedwig’s Theme’ in an Expanding Transmedial World
Dan White, University of Huddersfield
Abstract: John Williams’ enchanting celeste motif from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Columbus, 2001) quickly came to represent all that is magical about not only Harry’s pet owl, but Harry himself, his new school and home, and indeed the wider wizarding world. Today it is among one of the most widely known and easily-hummed film themes in history, but on its journey over the last two decades it has been handled by a whole host of composers who have altered, evolved, and in some cases replaced it or destroyed it beyond recognition. This paper tracks this journey, looking firstly at the signifying role taken on by different parts of the motif and its handling by Williams in various settings, before analysing the different approaches taken to its adoption by subsequent film composers (Doyle, Hooper, Desplat and Howard). Here, small alterations in pitch and rhythm align with the gradual diatonicisation of the theme, before its eventual replacement with another theme by Desplat (‘Lily’s Theme’) in the opening titles of Deathly Hallows Part Two (Yates, 2011) and throughout the film. The uses of the theme by James Newton Howard in his scores for the Fantastic Beasts films (Yates, 2016-2022 and forthcoming) illustrate a tension between the need to tie the new series into the franchise and meet audience expectations while also making significant original contributions. The latter part of the paper then looks at examples of the theme’s use elsewhere in the transmedia universe of the canonical and non-canonical Wizarding World, including trailers, videogames, theme parks, studio tours, fan-made musicals, and its notable absence in the Cursed Child play. Here, the subtly different significations and uses of the theme come to the fore, all the while cementing its more general role as a shorthand for – and indeed gateway to – the wizarding world, and more specifically the homeliness that it (and Hogwarts) represents both for Harry and for fans of the franchise. The cultural resonance and prominence that the theme now enjoys is inextricably linked to the global success of the franchise itself, but arguably due in no small part to the magical essence of a theme created by one of the masters of modern Hollywood scoring.
Bio: Dr Dan White is Lecturer of Musicology at the University of Huddersfield, where he teaches on film music, popular music studies, fandom and identity, research skills and performance. His doctoral research focused on the music of fantasy film franchises and their multimedia access points, and his book on Fantasy Film Music will be published in 2023 as part of the Ashgate Screen Music series. He has also published widely on different aspects of this research, including an article in Music, Sound and the Moving Image on the opening sequences of the Lord of the Rings films and another in the French journal InMedia on music at Harry Potter tourist attractions, as well as an upcoming chapter on the music of the Jurassic Park franchise to be published in the Bloomsbury Jurassic Park Book (ed. Melia). Other research interests include minimalist impulses in film music, the music of children’s media, and the intersections of film music and fandom.