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The Role of Sound and Music in Modern Cinema - Essay Example

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This paper talks about the role of music in the modern cinema. As cinema is dramatically depicting how humans interact with one another, sound and music are used to express, support, underline and enhance different ways of communication. …
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The Role of Sound and Music in Modern Cinema
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The Role of Sound and Music in Modern Cinema

This paper discrubes the most important effect the advent of sound had on screenplays was that screenwriters were now able to use dialogue and give their characters a voice.
To make a conclusion a distinction can only be made regarding a director's specific stylistic and aesthetic choices within the respective crafts. And as the development of sound over the decades has shown, the advent of new technologies, film theory and criticism, audiences and genre expectations, studio interests, marketing issues, casting, social movements, trends and fashions can all influence a director's reasoning behind the individual design of a soundtrack. By exploring the historical development of sound in the movies, from a pianist visualising galloping horses to its first appearance in The Jazz Singer in 1927, to the masterfully executed dance scene in Godard's Band a parte, to Tarantino's post-modern usage of popular song, it is clear that sound has developed into the equal partner of cinematography as the director's main storytelling tool. Pioneered over the decades by such versatile directors like Renoir, Godard, Hitchcock, Leone and Coppola, sound design and score have given characters a voice, locations an atmosphere, the narrative an unifying force and resulted in audiences not only being able to enjoy spell-bounding visuals, but also to appreciate a film with all its emotional, subconscious, realistic or surrealistic audio-aesthetic facets.
To conclude, sound design and score can't be read as unrelated entities in a films' soundtrack. Throughout the history of cinema, filmmakers have discovered that sound design and film music are equally effective story telling tools....
The following examples show how sound has been used as a versatile and powerful storytelling tools in the movies. Sound can: set up the mood for a film: The opening scene of Le Mepris where shots of Brigitte Bardot's naked body are accompanied by a melancholic score that indicates that tragedy is looming. reflect a film's theme: The 'duelling banjo' scene in Deliverance, where a hillbilly boy outplays a city-slicker, supports the film's theme of socio-cultural differences between rural and urban America. be used as an editing tool to create rhythm: The sex scene in Delicatessen where all activities in an apartment building rhythmically adapt to the sound of coil springs under a couple's bed. create suspense: The aggressive string motif in Jaws indicates a shark attack is imminent. reflect a character: The light-hearted flute melody that introduces free-spirit Nobody at the beginning of My Name Is Nobody. place a film in a specific cultural and historical setting: Ska, Northern Soul and 1980's pop songs make up the soundtrack of This Is England (2006) that is set in the English Skinhead scene of 1983. It has to be noted that aforementioned films are examples of how sound design and film music (meaning both a score that is specifically composed for a film as well as published music) are used as a storytelling tool. Indeed, it is hard to identify just one film that doesn't use sound design and music on its soundtrack. Hence, my argument in the following essay will be that sound design and film music don't exist separately but make up a movie's aural landscape together, as they are both powerful audio storytelling tools in their own right. Furthermore, I will analyse the motivations behind individual directors' different approaches towards ... Read More
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