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From Montage to Moment: Extremes of Music’s Temporal Agency in Screen Media

Barham, JM (2011) From Montage to Moment: Extremes of Music’s Temporal Agency in Screen Media In: Leeds Film Music Conference, 2011-09 - ?, University of Leeds.

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Musical temporality is one of the least documented and understood areas within screen music studies. Scattered observations among scholars of the last five decades have produced neither coherent theory nor consensus. For example, none of the three most recent comprehensive histories of film music (Hickman, 2006, Cooke, 2008, and Wierzbicki, 2008) discusses temporality; and Doane’s extensive study of cinematic time (2002) does not discuss music, while Wahlberg’s (2003) does so only briefly, with little theoretical elaboration. Part of a larger project designed to fill these gaps through a three-part inquiry into cultural, kinetic and chronological issues, this paper addresses one aspect of music’s temporal implications for screen media: its role in the pacing of presented time flow with regard to a) forward time compression or elision and b) time elongation or stoppage. In the first case, the shift between silence and music or between radically different musical styles/moods, is a device commonly used to corroborate, emphasize or ‘mitigate’ representations of time elision (in its most extreme form, montage). The second case is more problematic, since such processes begin to challenge the nature of a medium founded on the capacity to present (the illusion of) continuous change and ‘lived time’. The closer that screen works come to revealing their illusionary technical origins in rapidly juxtaposed frames, the more it seems that the complex temporal functions of music come to the fore: acting as an aesthetic filter and substitute for ‘real time’; providing a sonic eventfulness with which to articulate, pervade and temporally dramatize distended passages of image movement; or eagerly filling perceptual gaps that are opened up by the absence of physical change and that seem to attract musical qualification. These processes are demonstrated with reference to scenes in Godard’s Sauve qui peut (la vie) (1980), Marker’s La Jetée (1962), and Watkins’s Gladiatorerna (1969).

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Authors : Barham, JM
Date : 2011
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 23 Feb 2017 14:00
Last Modified : 06 Jul 2019 05:12

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