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Theorizing Television Music as Serial Art: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Narratology of Thematic Score

Wiley, C (2010) Theorizing Television Music as Serial Art: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Narratology of Thematic Score In: Buffy, Ballads, and Bad Guys Who Sing: Music in the Worlds of Joss Whedon. Scarecrow Press, Lanham, MD, pp. 29-73. ISBN 0810869454

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Abstract

This chapter represents research drawn from a continuing project whose overarching purpose is the examination of music in contemporary Anglo-American cult television series. It thus takes the form of a position statement outlining my current thinking on the different narrative structures offered by film and television and their implications for the associated music, coupled to a discussion of how my premises might contribute fresh insights into the specially composed score for Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and, to a lesser extent, the spin-off series Angel (1999-2004). In endeavoring to situate these shows within recent developments in television on both sides of the Atlantic, I am mindful of the fact that Joss Whedon was himself schooled in England, as reflected in many of the earlier characters to populate the so-called “Whedonverse.” Later sections of my essay are concerned with re-evaluation of the compositional technique of leitmotif as employed within a televisual context, with specific reference to the use of music in the celebrated Buffy episode “Hush” (B4.10) and its implications throughout the remainder of the fourth season and extending into the fifth. My case study of “Hush” also invites consideration of music’s participation within Buffy’s cutting-edge exploration of issues of gender and sexuality: not only was it one of several fantasy and espionage dramas appearing in quick succession to have crystallized around powerful lead females – analogies with La Femme Nikita (1997-2001), Charmed (1998-2006), and Alias (2001-2006) are particularly pronounced – but its pioneering exploration of the emergent lesbian relationship of a regular cast member has its origins in this very episode. This chapter has its origins in two conference papers: “‘I Believe the Subtext Here is Rapidly Becoming Text’: Music, Gender, and Fantasy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, delivered at the Universities of London (December 7, 2001), Warwick (May 11, 2002), and East Anglia (October 20, 2002); and “Reading Television (Under)score: The Music of Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, delivered at Keele University (March 18, 2005) and City University London (May 4, 2005). My work has benefited from a number of fruitful conversations, over the years, with Matthew Mills, Ben Winters, Ian Davis, and James Longstaffe; I am particularly grateful to Ben Winters and Matthew Mills for their invaluable comments on drafts of this essay. Thanks are also due to James Longstaffe for checking my transcriptions; to Kendra Preston Leonard for her helpful editorial guidance; to Laura Laakso for many hours of viewing companionship; and to the staff and students at City University London for much thought-provoking comment and critique.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Arts > Music
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
Wiley, CUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : November 2010
Uncontrolled Keywords : Music, Television music, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 29 Jan 2014 16:32
Last Modified : 09 Jun 2014 13:50
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/800487

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