November 9th, 2012

Screen Sound: The Australasian Journal of Soundtrack Studies

Number 3, 2012 Songs on the Soundtrack

Screen Sound n3, 2012

Individual Articles

  1. Cover
  2. Publishing Information
  3. Contents
  4. Editorial — Songs on the Soundtrack
    Rebecca Coyle
    [ Abstract ] [ Keywords ]

    Abstract: Screen Sound number 3, 2012, includes various approaches to our theme—Songs on the Soundtrack—from textual analyses of specific films, to an historical/social analysis of music in popular films leading up to and including emergent Bollywood films located in Australia, to contributions by musician/composers about composing for synchronized and non-synchronised films. Additional non-theme articles include a profile of a leading New Zealand documentary composer, and an Australian sound designer’s perspective on designing sound environments for screen.
    Keywords: Soundtrack, songs, film music, song-scores, songs on screen

Theme Features: Songs on the Soundtrack

  1. The Architecture of Songs and Music: Soundmarks of Bollywood, a Popular Form and its Emergent Texts
    Madhuja Mukherjee
    [ Abstract ] [ Keywords ]

    Abstract: This article provides detailed historical context for contemporary Bollywood melodramas, including a handful of feature films shot in Australia. It draws on interactions between technologies and media industries, and popular culture. The first section introduces the uses of music in Hindi films between 1930s and 1960s. Anna Morcom’s (2007) discussions emphasising the ‘eclecticism’ of Hindi film music, dominant tendencies, and modes through which these films deploy certain sounds and songs to produce a recognizable soundtrack are problematised. The second section of this article discusses two major shifts that occur in the patterns of production and consumption of music during the 1970s and 1980s, followed by the formation of ‘brand Bollywood’ in the 1990s. Referring to M. Madhava Prasad’s (1998) formulations, the problem of industrial, and formal ‘mobilisation’ is revisited through screen sound. While Sangita Gopal and Sujata Moorti (2008) study the popularity of Bollywood music, the author presents a more complicated mapping by investigating older musical exchanges. In this section, specific films like Disco Dancer (Babbar Subhash, 1982), as well as films situated in Australia—specifically Dil Chahta Hai (Farhan Akhtar, 2001) and Salaam Namaste (Siddharth Anand, 2005)—are analysed in relation to the musical designs of contemporary Bollywood films. This article locates the soundmarks of a popular form and historicises its new routes. In this context, Bollywood films appear like a productive model that enables us to more generally recognise the function of songs and music in cinema.
    Keywords: Bollywood, soundtrack, melodrama, Hindi film music, cinema in Australia
  2. All Mashed Up? Songs, Music and Allusionism in The Loved Ones (2009)
    Philip Hayward
    [ Abstract ] [ Keywords ]

    Abstract: This article considers Australian director Sean Byrne’s 2009 horror/comedy feature film The Loved Ones with particular regard to its uses of allusionism within a popular genre context. Within this focus, the article explores the various musical components of the soundtrack (including critical use of specific songs), the creative template determined by the director and the creative input and decision making of various members of the production team. In this manner, the article profiles the film’s audio-visual text, the perceptions and motivations of the production team and considers how these relate to the film’s reception and box-office performance.
    Keywords: The Loved Ones, allusionism, film songs, soundtrack, Australian film
  3. Ana Kokkinos and the Auditory Spectator: “I wanna tell you that I’m feeling closer”
    Eloise Ross
    [ Abstract ] [ Keywords ]

    Abstract: Ana Kokkinos is an acclaimed director of Australian independent films. Her portrayals of contemporary life in Melbourne, and the delicate rendering of diegetic sound interplayed with score music in her films, create rich film worlds in which her characters—and us as spectators—occupy Melbourne. With a multicultural population of over 4 million, Melbourne is Australia’s second largest city and located in the southern, temperate zone of the continent, and it has a significant profile as a locus for Australian culture, couture and cuisine. Two of Kokkinos’ feature films that paint intimate portraits of the city, Head On (1998) and Blessed (2009), present rich soundscapes that encourage identification not only with the characters but also within the space constructed by camera and soundscape. In both works, diegetic and extra-diegetic sonic moments form layered soundscapes that serve as vectors for emotion, enabling us to identify and empathise with the characters. This emotional engagement builds on the spatial and sensate world of the film, with the soundscapes suggestive of the dynamic relationship our bodies have with comfort and discomfort, belonging and dislocation, movement and silence. The integrated diegetic and extra-diegetic sound tracks encourage relationships with these films in ways connected to reality, and to the cinematic world of Melbourne.
    Keywords: Melbourne cinema, composed and compiled scores, diegetic sound, spectator, audition

Theme Shorts and Trailers: Songs on the Soundtrack

  1. The Movie, the Melody and You: How Pop Music Connects Film Narrative to its Audience
    Martin Armiger
    [ Abstract ] [ Keywords ]

    Abstract: In recent years the authority of the composed film score has come under critical scrutiny. Some suggest it carries too much weight, freight and affect. The ‘song score’ has provided an alternative way of scoring film, one in which the emotional content and—crucially—the source and the authority for that emotional content exists somewhere outside the film. There is a body of common knowledge about popular music among cinema and television audiences, a familiarity on which the providers of film scores have long relied. For many years this familiarity was centred on ‘the song’ itself, that is, the composition. More recently this familiarity has been with ‘the track’, that is, the recording of the song that has most recently achieved fame. But the song score has problems of its own, to do with its inherent form, which may be rhythmically inflexible, and its own subject matter, which may be not quite apposite. In this article, I provide a composer’s perspective on these issues, and look at examples of songs in film, both triumphs and failures, from American and British cinema and from my own work in Australian film and TV.
    Keywords: Song score, soundtrack, composer, popular music, Australian cinema
  2. The Polysynchronous Film Score: Songs for a Contemporary Score for F.W. Murnau’s Faust (1926)
    Phillip Johnston
    [ Abstract ] [ Keywords ]

    Abstract: Contemporary scores for silent film more often than not adhere to traditional assumptions about the relationship between music and image/narrative. This article proposes a ‘polysynchronous’ approach, which it defines as being wider and more investigative/experimental than the traditional dichotomy between synchronous versus asynchronous framed in much discussion of film music. The addition of the element of songs with words gives the composer (and librettist) an even more powerful tool to engage with the narrative. The article looks in detail at Phillip Johnston’s contemporary score for F.W. Murnau’s Faust (1926), which he has performed live in sync with the film in Australia, USA and Europe. The author shows how he and his librettist, Australian playwright Hilary Bell, use original songs in combination with instrumental music to further engage with the narrative and significantly reinterpret the ending.
    Keywords: silent film, Faust, Murnau, songs in film, polysynchronous, libretto

Additional Shorts and Trailers

  1. From Rock to Reel: An Interview with Screen Composer Neville Copland
    Henry Johnson
    [ Abstract ] [ Keywords ]

    Abstract: The Dunedin-based film music composer Neville Copland is interviewed with the aim of identifying his introduction to composing for screen, his compositional techniques and the influences on his compositional style. As one of several Dunedin-based composers who has had a prolific output primarily for documentary production company, Natural History New Zealand, Copland reveals details of his creative life related to screen sound production. From the influences of rock music in his younger years as part of life in rural New Zealand, to his career as a film music composer, Copland’s work shows many traits that offer a greater understanding about screen composition in the south of New Zealand’s South Island. Offering a resourceful approach to technology, as well as a support network and collaborators, Copland shows that screen music is produced in many different ways. His particular approach has developed from his own practice rather than a set of conventions or specific training.
    Keywords: Documentary film, film music, Neville Copland, New Zealand, Dunedin sound
  2. Aural Landscapes: Designing a sound environment for screen
    Damian Candusso
    [ Abstract ] [ Keywords ]

    Abstract: Cinematic environments are created through image, dialogue, music and sound, but the craft involved in creating an environmental soundtrack often goes unnoticed by the film viewer. Soundscapes are rarely just background: they are powerful storytelling vehicles in their own right, of equal importance to the visuals. This article examines the process of creating an environmental soundtrack for cinema from the perspective of a sound designer. Particular attention is given to how sound is created and layered to enhance, embellish and produce the film’s narrative. Using contemporary Australian films, notably Australia (Baz Luhrmann, 2008) and Happy Feet (George Miller, 2006), the article examines the different challenges in creating an environmental soundscape for both an animation and a live action film. The films Avatar (James Cameron, 2009), Little Fish (Rowan Woods, 2005) and The Magician (Scott Ryan, 2005) are also cited to highlight various approaches to environmental representation in film sound. While both Australia and Happy Feet rely on the landscape and environment as integral storytelling components, the approach to creating their respective soundscapes requires not only natural recordings, but also the creation of many previously unheard sounds using synthetic sound design.
    Keywords: Sound design, Australian film, soundscape, environmental representation, animation

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