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Film Music, Time and Bernard Herrmann
David Butler

The tendency in most writing on the temporal properties of film music has been to note music‘s ability to establish, quickly and efficiently, a films historical setting. Although acknowledging this important function, this paper seeks to explore a wider range of temporal properties fulfilled by film music. Three aspects of musics temporality are discussed: anachronism (whereby choices of anachronistic music can provide the spectator with ways of making sense of a films subtext or its characters’ state of mind), navigation (the ability of music to help the spectator understand where and when they are in a films narrative) and expansion (musics ability to expand our experience of film time). The paper focuses on Bernard Herrmann, and his score for Taxi Driver (1976), and argues that Herrmann was particularly sensitive to the temporal possibilities of film music.

Film Studies