Charles Barr
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Hitchcock, music and the mathematics of editing
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Drawing on new archival work on Hitchcock’s films, this chapter contextualises Hitchcock’s authorship around a metaphor of ‘musicality’. Plotting the structure and shot lengths of Hitchcock’s work, it argues that Hitchcock’s conception of editing was dictated by a structural ‘musicality’ that runs throughout his silent works, demonstrating the influence of Griffith and Eisenstein, into the partnership with Herrmann and beyond, to the Herrmann-inspired work with John Williams in Family Plot. The chapter traces this historical aspect of Hitchcock’s authorship, and its interactions with the work of several composers, including Herrmann, to demonstrate how the mathematics of Hitchcock’s editing can be argued to be a musical structure that runs throughout the body of his work. Charting these structures as musical notation, the chapter demonstrates that ‘music’ was a central component of Hitchcock’s work, despite his numerous collaborations with different composers, of which Herrmann is a privileged case, and can be charted right from his silent work to his final works.

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Partners in suspense

Critical essays on Bernard Herrmann and Alfred Hitchcock


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