Hearing film
Sound and music
in Beginning film studies (second edition)
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This chapter is the third of three devoted to analysis of film’s stylistics, and seeks, in its attention to sound and music, to redress an ocular bias that is still apparent in some discussions of film. The first of four analytical sections identifies and evaluates the diverse soundtracks that accompanied purportedly ‘silent’ film. Next, discussion turns to the fraught debates occasioned by the coming of synchronised sound in the late 1920s. The following section sets out various vocabularies that have emerged for analysis of film sound, and assesses the advantages and deficiencies of each. The last of the substantive sections is devoted to film music, tracking some of its global and historical variations and evaluating attempts to conceptualise it that range from the psychoanalytic through the cognitivist to the Marxist. A concluding case study of The Great Gatsby (2013) explores the implications of the film’s experiments not only with music (both diegetic and non-diegetic) but with voiceover, dialogue and sound effects also.

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