[Smt-talk] theory of film music

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be
Thu Jul 3 14:26:10 PDT 2014

In addition to all the answers concerning film music in particular, I'd 
like to raise the question of music analysis in general, and its 
relation to narrative analysis (or other forms of analyses pointing 
outside the music itself) in particular. This, I think, may become one 
of the topics discussed in EuroMAC 8, the European Conference on Music 
Analysis to be held in Leuven next September and to which many of you 
will participate.

The point, I think, concerns the definition of music analysis itself, 
either as a general approach overarching any discourse about music not 
exclusively historical, or as a specific discipline dealing with music 
considered from the inside.

I am among the ones, as is Bob apparently, who believe that "the 
internal evidence of the music offers more insight into understanding 
it" -- "as music", I'd add. Music analysis (call it music theory, if you 
prefer), to me, is about the internal evidence of the music. That is to 
say that, say, acoustic analysis, or performance analysis, or narrative 
analysis, or music criticism, or anything of the like, as interesting as 
they may be, are _not_ part of music analysis properly speaking.

This is not a value judgment about disciplines, merely a matter of 
definition. I don't think we need music analysis as an overarching 
discipline, in which everything would be included -- this was the 
disastrous fate of semiotics, some time ago. I do believe that we would 
gain keeping all these cousin disciplines separate, strictly defined, 
and as complementary to each other as possible.

This being said, I do believe that narrative analysis is particularly 
needed, in the case of film music, to help music analysis properly 
speaking; it cannot replace music analysis, however, and I see no reason 
why narratologists should claim performing music analysis properly 
speaking, nor why music analysts properly speaking should feel in any 
way dependent on narratology.

Nicolas Meeùs
Professeur émérite
Université Paris-Sorbonne

Le 3/07/2014 06:06, kos at panix.com a écrit :
> Hey folks,
> I know lots of you are interested in "film music" although it almost 
> never is written about on SMT-TALK.
> My recent perusal of the book "Music and Levels of Narration in Film: 
> Steps Across the Border" by Guido Heldt (Chicago: Intellect, 2013) 
> reminded me of one of my ongoing questions concerning film music 
> studies, in that a noticeably large group of writers take their cue 
> from film studies and use narrativity as the basis for understanding 
> film music.
> While understanding narrative is essential to understanding how music 
> operates in a film, I'm often disappointed in that I see no further 
> dissection of the music.  My own bias is empiricism:  I feel that--in 
> general--the internal evidence of the music can offer more insight 
> into understanding music.  I see this *rarely* discussed in film music 
> - and when it is written about, it's usually in the context of how to 
> write music for films.  (I often imagine that, because it's so 
> difficult to get a film score, people have derived analytical modes 
> that consider the written score irrelevant.)
> I see the above is purely musicological.  Beyond the narrativity 
> movement, can anyone point to writings that attempt to deal with film 
> music as part of music theory?
> Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D. -- Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts,
> Music Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
> blog:  http://www.nypl.org/blog/author/44   Twitter: @kos2
>   Listowner: OPERA-L ; SMT-TALK ; SMT-ANNOUNCE ; SoundForge-users
> --- My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my institutions ---
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