This page is also available as a PDF file: Abstracts and Bios
Theories: Thursday, July 11, 13:15-14:15
Ron Rodman, “‘Contemporary Cool’ as Televisual Existential Sign”
Television composers have incorporated popular contemporary musical styles and genres into their music for programs and commercials to act as a signifying agent of “coolness,” reflecting social acceptability and desirability. Such desirability usually helps a particular show’s ratings, thus generating more commercial revenue. Because “cool” operates on both the poietic (producerly) and esthesic (reception) level of the semiotic space of TV, it serves as a trope that situates itself in a sort of matrix where television narrative interacts with the viewer’s reality. This trope of “contemporary cool” surfaced very early on American television, and was found on many programs and commercials. Early on, coolness was often rooted in the use of jazz music, and was often borrowed from the cinema, especially cinematic genres such as film noir and the 1960s spy thrillers such as the James Bond series.
This paper traces the “contemporary cool” trope through the music of American television. Early examples of cool on television are grounded in the musical styles presented on the show, most notably the use of jazz on shows like M Squad, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. However, the use of the jazz style was no guarantee that a program would be considered cool—jazz themes for programs like Shotgun Slade and Hawaii Five-O, failed to generate a “cool” ethos. Since “coolness” cannot be tied to a particular musical style, it is what Eero Tarasti would call an “existential” sign, that is, a sign that is originally tied to an object (Dasein) but departs from the signified in the objectal world and floats as a signifier without any content, only to be re-connected to another object at a later time. In American television, “coolness” has resurfaced through popular music references in 21st century television animated shows like The Simpsons and Family Guy, usually in through satire or lampooning the celebrity surrounding the music. The existential nature of musical cool is demonstrated by its migration from objectal musical style (jazz) on TV to the more vague musical pop culture references on these contemporary shows.
Ron Rodman is Dye Family Professor of Music at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, USA, where he teaches courses in music and media studies. He is author of the book, Tuning In: American Narrative Television Music (2010) published by Oxford University Press, and has authored many chapters and articles on film and television music, including the latest entry on television music for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music. Besides the analysis of music in the electronic media, he is founder and director of the North Star Cinema Orchestra, a theater orchestra that re-creates Vaudeville shows and accompanies early silent films from the early 1900s.
Melachrinos Velentzas, “Music in TV Advertising: A Semiotic Approach. Singing the c(Ode)…”
Music used in TV advertisements should be conceptualized as a sign -a powerful language within an audio-visual advertising context. Through our research, we try to understand how music heads on meanings in TV advertising. Studies of music conceptualise the role of music in TV screens mainly as a background to the sequence of images. In order to deconstruct this perspective, we implement a semiotic approach. Because it is the research of the different, but interconnecting signs of a TV advertisement (music, image/the visual message and text/the verbal message), that could lead us to the understanding of the functional role of music in media advertising. An explanatory case study has been carried out to provide us with useful findings towards this direction. We discuss the findings of our semiotic analysis.
A certain interaction with the audience will be part of our presentation: there is a classical orchestra performing in the TV ad we analyze. But the conductor is absent. Though, it’s the audience, as spectators of the ad, who stands in conductor’s place. This foucauldian perspective will prepare the field for dialogue on the role of telespectators within this interactive framework between music and TV screen. Do they sing the (c)Ode?
Melachrinos Velentzas is currently an MSc student in the Postgraduate Department of Marketing, Consumption & Society at the University of Limerick (Ireland). He has also attended a Master in Cultural Management (Panteion University), which has inspired him to look on the role of music within the culture construction process. Working as a professional pianist, he believes that a holistic approach -both practical and theoretical- is needed in order to understand how music works within various cultural contexts. His current research interests include music semiotics, music in TV advertising, music consumption and music as propaganda.
Creating Digital Media: Thursday, July 11, 14:25-15:55
Adam Tindale, “An Authoring Framework for Creative Mobile Music Making”
The iPad has been widely used as a music and audio platform. The app store includes synthesizers, sequencers, noise makers, samples, effects processors, audio editors, and a variety of audio audities. There are a multitude of applications aimed at the technical creative audio maker and audio programmers. This presentation will introduce a new programming environment for creative audio C4PD, a framework combines C4 and Pure Data in form of libpd. Although there has been widespread proliferation of creativecoding programming languages, the design of many toolkits and application programming interfaces (APIs) for expression and interactivity do not take full advantages of the unique space of mobile multitouch devices. C4 is a new API for the iOS platform that takes advantage of ObjectiveC, a powerful yet more complicated lowerlevel language, while remaining simple and easy to use. C4 allows the programmer to work with media as firstclass objects; it also provides techniques for easily integrating touch and gestural interaction, as well as rich animations, into expressive interfaces.
Pure Data is an opensource visual patching language for audio programming. Various extensions have been created for the language to enable new functional units, new audio algorithms, and visual programming upgrades. Recently the underlying engine was packaged in the form of libpd to allow developers to embed it into their applications. The combination of two programming paradigms allows for new possibilities for easily combining media, interaction, and sound synthesis on mobile devices. Pure Data patches may be contained in a C4 application, send messages back and forth between the layers, and be dynamically managed. Future features include automatic graphical user interface generation and MIDI hardware integration.
Adam Tindale is an electronic drummer and digital instrument designer. He is an Associate Professor of Human-Computer Interaction in the Digital Futures Initiative at OCAD University. Adam performs on his E-Drumset: a new electronic instrument that utilizes physical modeling and machine learning with an intuitive physical interface. He completed a Bachelor of Music at Queen’s University, a Masters of Music Technology at McGill University, and an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Music, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Victoria.
David Cecchetto, “Vision and Aurality in Online Community: Listening in Exurbia”
This essay stages my web‐based public installation Exurbia as a testing ground for certain approaches to network theory. Exurbia is a digital sound‐editing program where users compose individual sound‐works from a shared collection of sound samples. The program has three distinct features: firstly, the interface is primarily aural and is executed in real time; secondly, editing is ‘destructive’ (i.e. there is no ‘undo’ feature); and thirdly, all changes to an original sound file on one user’s computer are applied to all iterations of the file on every user’s computer.
Taken together, this results in a virtual world that invites intense and personal creation of sound-based works, while simultaneously making the resulting works explicitly vulnerable to alterations that result from other users’ creative processes. Crucially, participants can listen to one another’s work, but they are anonymous and participants cannot communicate with one another about the collective process. Though my essay explains Exurbia’s mechanics, its focus is the theoretical purchase offered by the environment. While it is a cliché that Internet technologies have the potential to both kill and cultivate communities, Exurbia realigns this problematic to highlight ways in which Internet communities are conventionally constituted through vision. In particular, Exurbia acts as a social experiment that tests whether users will develop a sensibility and/or ethics with respect to other users’ contributions: by maintaining a relatively conventional network relation between participants while also requiring them to act based on aural and musical experiences, I argue that the project desublimates the extent to which community itself is constructed by technologies of vision.
David Cecchetto is Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities at York University (Toronto). He has published widely, including the monograph Humanesis: Sound and technological posthumanism (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). As an artist working with sound, David has presented work in Canada, Mexico, Russia, the UK, and the USA. www.davidcecchetto.net
Ely Rosenblum, “Mapping The Soundscape: Electro-acoustic Composition and Place-making in Interactive Sound Maps”
With the recent availability of open source application programming interfaces for digital mapping, programmers have been able create applications that literally put music and sound on the map. Since the mid-2000s, sound artists, electroacoustic composers and archivists have been able to use digital resources to map their field recordings. Many of these maps allow for users to upload their own recordings, creating maps with thousands of sound clips. This presentation aims to explore the possibility of musicological scholarship concerning digital mapping practices of music and sound, and the development of virtual worlds for computers, tablets and smartphones.
This presentation will provide a history of sound mapping as used by sound recordists and composers. Beginning with Tony Schwartz’ sound documentary form, examples of which are New York 19 and The World in My Mailbox, I will explain how recordings establish a sense of place, and how Schwartz’ recordings influenced R. Murray Schafer and the members of the World Soundscape Project to develop their own graphical sound maps. I will review the uses of twenty-two participant interactive online sound maps currently operating, including the Toronto Sound Map, The London Sound Survey, The Göteborg Sound Map, The British Library’s Sound Maps and the Tactical Sound Gardens. Additionally, I will discuss my own use of sound maps as a musicological teaching resource, working on projects with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, composer and MIT Media Lab professor Tod Machover, and for the University of Alberta/Cape Breton University project“Celebrating East European communities and cultures in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia”. All of these examples contribute to the use of digital sound mapping as an ethnographic research tool and a teaching resource.
Ely Rosenblum is a Canadian ethnographer and field recordist with experience combining anthropology and critical media practice in his research. He facilitates interdisciplinary dialogue through editorial and curatorial work as a founding editor of ART/E/FACT: Publications and Exhibitions of Art & Anthropology. Previous projects examined spoken word poetry in Nova Scotia and contemporary folk song in Britain, and include collaborative international media projects with musicians, filmmakers and artists. Studying for a PhD in Music under the supervision of Nicholas Cook, Ely is currently writing a history of field recording practices from 1946 to present at the University of Cambridge.
Television Musicals: Thursday, July 11, 16:15-17:15
Chris Culp, “Once More, With Feeling: Musical Representation of Human Subjectivity in the Television Musical”
Serial Television Musical Episodes are an emerging trend that fashions music into a disruptive trope of Romantic expression in order to enhance the emotional narrative in a series arc. These episodes develop the plot through diegetic music, yet are complicated by the perspective of the camera and film’s acoustemological tradition to not hear music beyond the diegetic sphere. The music calls attention to itself with the resultant effect of portraying the Musical as pure, artificial genre; often at odds with the tv series’ original genre. This shift is exemplified with “Once More, With Feeling” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer among others.
In these episodes, music carries the weight of Romantic expression and implies the German Idealist metaphysics that enable an expressive reality, one strangely akin to The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche. The success of these episodes relies on their ability to deploy the Musical genre self-reflexively through Camp to lubricate the diegetic gap between musical and non-musical. The rupture is also a reflection of the Dionysian dismemberment of illusion stated in The Birth, using self-reference to deliberately make the distinction of artifice between diegetic layers. This seemingly contradictory collection of aesthetic principles not only reflects an anxiety of diegesis in musical drama, but also the reality of something often assumed in narrative; human subjectivity. As layers are placed in various states of ‘real’ against each other, these fractures rescript subjectivity through a metaphysics of artifice and achieve something that could be called ‘postmodern sincerity’ of the human subject.
Christopher M. Culp has a Masters of Music in Clarinet Performance and a Masters of Arts in Philosophy. He is currently a PhD Cadidate in Musicology at University at Buffalo researching issues of Sincerity in Modernist/Postmodernist discourse, Queer Studies, Television Musicals, Philosophy of Music, and the Metaphysics of Musical Drama. His dissertation focuses on Serial Television Musical episodes by analyzing them as a possible symptom of the Modernist/Postmodernist problem of sincere expression, in addition to outlining their peculiar generic conventions. A clarinetist of both classical and contemporary styles, he performs solo and with chamber ensemble including the Wooden Cities, Babel: an Experimental Vocal Ensemble, and the Slee Sinfonietta. He is also adjunct faculty for various colleges in both Music and Philosophy.
Durrell Bowman, “The Spring in Springfield: Alf Clausen’s Music for Songs and ‘Mini-Musicals’ on The Simpsons”
Alf Clausen has written thousands of pieces of music, most often for the TV show The Simpsons (1989- ). Among other things, he contributed the music of the show’s various songs and “mini-musicals,” of which 1996’s “We Put the Spring in Springfield” and 1997’s “You’re Checkin’ In” won Emmys. He was also nominated for the music of additional songs from 1994 to 2005: “Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?,” “The Stonecutter’s Song,” “Señor Burns,” “Ode to Branson,” “Everybody Hates Ned Flanders,” “Vote for a Winner,” and “Always my Dad.” In addition, Clausen was nominated for his musical direction of the 1997-
98 episodes “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious” and “All Singing, All Dancing” and for his dramatic underscore of nine of the show’s Hallowe’en episodes from 1991-2010 and for the 1993, 2001, and 2008 episodes “Cape Feare,” “Simpson Safari,” and “Gone Maggie Gone.” Awards such as the Emmys only mean so much, and The Simpsons itself has frequently made fun of them. They can, however, serve as a starting point for considering the genres, styles, and specific pieces that are referenced and/or parodied by the works so recognized. For example, “We Put the Spring in Springfield” references rambunctious music-hall “stripper” music of the Jazz Age, “Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?” parodies the “tricky” rhythms of classic Broadway dance musicals, “Señor Burns” incorporates Tito Puente’s Afro-Cuban jazz style, one entire episode parodies the fantasy film Mary Poppins, and “Vote for a Winner” evokes Andrew Lloyd Webber’s concept musical Evita.Some material will also be provided to compare The Simpsons’ dramatically-integrated incorporation of songs and mini-musicals to Family Guy’s notorious “random moments of musical theatre.” Issues of camp, cultural literacy, cultural hierarchy, and a “no brow” aesthetic will also be addressed.
Television Series: Friday, July 12, 9:00-10:00
Michael Saffle, “Musical Verfremdungseffekte and Contemporary Television: The Sopranos as Case Study”
As Marshall McLuhan explained decades ago, television is a “cool” medium, easily ignored because viewers, safe at home, can so easily change channels. Film is “hot” because it forces movie-goers to leave their homes and enter liminal spaces where alternative involvements are momentarily set aside. Today, however, TV is heating up. The Sopranos (1999-2008; directed by David Chase)—currently being rebroadcast on HBO, the cable network that sponsored the series—employs a small-screen, musically mediated version of what Bertolt Brecht dubbed Verfremdung: harsh contrasts between scripts, sets, surroundings, and even music that “jerk” individuals out of their cultural comfort zones and into new modes of perception. During Sopranos episodes there is surprisingly little “mood music”; what music there is mostly establishes locations and accompanies on-screen activities—including TV viewing by protagonist Tony Soprano. Instead, credit songs create concluding disconnects between what happens on screen and conventional interpretations of such happenings. Emmylou Harris’s “Heaven Only Knows,” for example, suggests through its country sounds and words that the “message” of “Two Tonys” (Season 5, episode 1) applies to “all” (i.e., non-Italian) Americans. The wild black comedy of “Pine Barrens” (Season 3, episode 11) concludes with “Sposa son disprezzata,” an eighteenth-century aria that suggests through its unmistakable, yet subtly cross-gendered lament how much love really has been lost between the members of this seemingly “close” crime family. The resulting Verfremdungseffekte are necessarily serial and cumulative, creating an over-arching disconnection and inspiring new modes of perception across entire seasons of small-screen viewing.
Michael Saffle teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music and film, music and television, and popular culture at Virginia Tech. His work as a musicologist has appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Acta Musicologica, Notes, Asian Music, IRASM, and the Leonardo Music Journal as well as the Journal of Popular Film and Television and Music in Television, edited by James Deaville. As a scholar he has held fellowships from the Fulbright and Humboldt Foundations as well as the American Philosophical Society, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy. During the 2000-2001 academic year he served as Bicentennial Distinguished Professor of American Studies at the University of Helsinki. In 2007 he won Tech’s William E. Wine “career” Teaching Award, in 2012 the university’s award for research excellence. In 2006, on his sixtieth birthday, he was honored with a Festschrift published as a special Spaces of Identity issue.
Jessica Getman, “The Many Declarations of the Enterprise Fanfare”
The Enterprise fanfare is the most recognizable melody from the original series of Star Trek (1966–69). With its rising fourths and its grandiose scoring—heavy on the brass—it is the show’s Sonic brand. Short and declamatory, it permeates the series. It acts within the text as an exposition of the main characters, signifying the U.S.S. Enterprise herself, while simultaneously acting as a leitmotif for her captain, James T. Kirk. At the same time, it is the show’s primary paratextual theme, accompanying Kirk’s introductory voice-‐over in the main title sequence; underscoring his narration during his expository “Captain’s Logs”; facilitating fly-‐by transitions between scenes (in which the ship, hanging in outer space, passes before the screen); and marking commercial transitions, aurally signifying to the home audience the continuation of the show after a commercial break. It is thus essential to the show’s aural language on several levels, though scholars have not yet considered it in depth. This paper explores the many roles of the Enterprise fanfare in Star Trek’s original series, considering its position as underscore and as paratext, and parsing out its significance as the series’ main musical device.
Jessica Getman began her professional studies at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, earning a bachelor’s degree in oboe performance. She holds two masters degrees from Boston University in Historical Performance and Musicology, fulfilling her requirements with a thesis on eighteenth-century French vaudeville. While she has continued her research in eighteenth-century music and performance practice in her Ph.D. work at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, her current direction of study considers the use of popular music in science fiction film and television, with a dissertation on music in the original series of Star Trek.
Video Game Music: Friday, July 12, 10:20-11:50
Elizabeth Medina-Gray, “Chance and Choice in the Assembly of Video Game Soundtracks”
As an interactive form of multimedia, video games take a different approach to music and sound than do non-interactive types of media such as film and television: Namely, the soundtracks of video games are dynamic—that is, changeable, and able to respond in real-time to a player’s actions—and are uniquely tied to individual instances of gameplay (Collins 2008, 139). As dynamic systems, video game soundtracks therefore incorporate elements of both chance and choice, from the point of view of a game’s composer(s) as well as its player(s).
This paper explores the roles of chance and choice in the transition of video game audio from the abstract, coded realm that Michael Nitsche has called “rule-based space” to the “mediated space” of the game’s audio-visual presentation to the player (Nitsche 2008, 15). This paper focuses on music in video games, but the resulting ideas may be applied to broader aspects of sound as well. Beginning with a concept of modular music adapted from James Saunders (Saunders 2008), this paper distinguishes between chance as indeterminacy—a general uncertainty of how the resulting music will sound—and chance as a special assembling procedure. After first treating indeterminacy—and highlighting some special systems in games that serve to limit indeterminacy—this paper next identifies three primary forces that may work to assemble a game’s musical modules into an individualized soundtrack: (1) chance, or a randomizing procedure, (2) musical choice, or deliberate choice with the music itself in mind, and (3) non-musical choice, or choice that affects the music but which is directed primarily at some other aspect of the game. Through such attention to chance and choice, we may gain new perspective on the musical interactions between player, composer, and game.
Elizabeth Medina-Gray is a Ph.D. candidate in music theory at Yale University. She holds a B.A. degree in music and chemistry from Swarthmore College, and M.A. and M.Phil. degrees in music theory from Yale. Her dissertation-in-progress, entitled “Modular Structure and Function in Early 21st-century Video Game Music,” focuses on analyzing the mobile, dynamic music of recent video games. Her wider academic interests include music in modern multimedia, 20th-century tonal music, and mathematical musical models.
Sarah Pozderac-Chenevey, “A Direct Link to the Past: Nostalgia and Semiotics in Video Game Music”
Music’s ability to evoke a nostalgic response in listeners has long been documented: Jean-Jacques Rousseau recorded the existing story of the ranz-des-vaches and its ability to reduce Swiss soldiers to tears with the thought of their homeland in his 1779 Dictionary of Music. Much of the scholarship on the topic has focused on sentimental songs by Stephen Foster or Gustav Mahler’s intentionally childlike fourth symphony. The multimedia nature of video games and the interactivity of the medium create new possibilities and purposes for nostalgia, as Bastion (2011), Fallout 3 (2008), and The Legend of Zelda series (1987 to present) illustrate. In Bastion, composer Darren Korb uses iconic signifiers of nostalgia to create an empathetic response within the player to the in-game character’s longing for a lost world and time. Fallout 3, in contrast, uses the player’s own familiarity with the popular music of the 1930s and ’40s that comprises the most recognizable portion of its soundtrack to heighten the destruction of the world after an in-game nuclear war. Finally, The Legend of Zelda series, which made music a major part of its gameplay in Ocarina of Time, uses music indexically and symbolically in Twilight Princess to prompt a nostalgic response within the player that mirrors the response apparently felt by the main character in the game, Link. These careful uses of nostalgia create an emotional connection to the game and its characters, drawing in the player.
Sarah Pozderac-Chenevey is a PhD student in musicology at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, where she will be teaching the course “Music and Society” this fall. Her research interests include diva studies, critical editing and historiography, the music of Reform Judaism, and, of course, video game music. She served as the editor of Volume 27 ofMusic Research Forum, a peer-reviewed journal published by the University of Cincinnati, and was a member of the executive board for the conference “Music and Meaning,” organized by the CCM Music Theory and Musicology Society in 2012.
Julianne Marie Grasso, “Laying the Musical Groundwork for Immersive Play in The Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy”
Most adult gamers tend to feel a certain amount of nostalgia when hearing the particular sounds of early console video games. Endlessly looping bits of synthesized tunes wormed their way into our younger minds and now serve as a strong nostalgic trigger-undisturbed by the vastly different sorts of game music we’ve encountered since. We tend to think of this change as an evolution, an improvement in technology leading to more complex and nuanced ways of creating game soundscapes. While the dynamic and interactive audio of today’s video games has become essential to and synonymous with an immersive gameplay experience, the “limiting” technology of the past provided a completely different framework for music composition and sound design. Using examples primarily from the Legend of Zelda series and the Final Fantasy series, both of which are popular video game franchises that had their beginnings on Nintendo’s first console, this paper examines the early constraints of console technology as part of a unique and fleeting moment in video game history when music was perhaps at its most prominent role in the total gameplay experience. Through a combination of play, transcription, and analysis, I explore the ways in which these early games’ music and sound designers crafted sonic environments, contributing to a sense of player immersion into the environmental and narrative spaces of games.
Julianne Grasso is a PhD student of Music History and Theory at the University of Chicago. She is a graduate of Princeton University where she completed a senior thesis in 2010 on the topic of musically mediated experiences of playing video games, and presented this work at the Asian Popular Music conference at Princeton in 2011. Along with her undergraduate degree she earned a certificate in Neuroscience, and her current research interests accordingly intersect with topics in music perception and cognition.
(Popular) Television Music: Friday, July 12, 12:00-13:00
Norma Coates, “‘5% of it is good:’ Leonard Bernstein, CBS Reports, and the Cultural Accreditation of Rock Music”
On April 25, 1967, Leonard Bernstein, America’s best known and most accessible classical musician, and conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, told the parents of the nation’s growing horde of teenagers that rock and roll, at least 5% was, in his estimation, good. He argued for and demonstrated this assessment during the first half of Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, an episode of CBS’s marquee news program, CBS Reports. CBS Reports sought, in the words of Fred Friendly, its first executive producer, to “provide interpretation, background and understanding at a time when comprehension [was] falling behind the onrush of events.” Friendly spoke those words in 1959, but they were equally relevant to the rapid cultural change of 1966and 1967, marked by the rise of a separate youth counterculture whose beliefs, behavior, and heroes diverged greatly from those of of the older generation. Songwriters and musicians were designated from within and without the counterculture as spokespeople for the younger generation, and their voices sounded loudly within the televised text. Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution sought to interpret and reassure as much as it sought to inform, and therefore took rock music, its influence, and its creators and tastemakers seriously for perhaps the first time. The program represents, contra much existing scholarship and popular consideration of rock on television in the 1960s, mainstream acceptance of the genre and the cultural changes it represented. Researched and produced under the direction of producer David Oppenheim, who went on to found the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Inside Pop assisted in the cultural accreditation of rock music by unearthing the genre’s provenance and by locating it within familiar approaches to music appreciation. Using archival research and textual analysis, I argue that Inside Pop is exemplary of television’s role in not only spreading rock and its culture, but in defining it as a mode of the mainstream, albeit one characterized as oppositional. Rock culture, I assert, may not have been able to develop as cultural formation without opposing itself to television and the type of mainstream that it purportedly represented.
Norma Coates is jointly appointed to the Faculty of Media and Information Studies and the Department of Music History in the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western University in London, Ontario. Her research interests span several areas, all of them unified by a link to popular music. She has published several articles about how gender is constructed by and in the material practices of popular music cultures. She is currently at work on a book for Duke University Press about popular music on American network television from 1956, when Elvis Presley burst on the cultural scene, to 1981, when the cable channel was introduced. Future projects, currently in the formative stages, include a cultural history of periodic outbursts of “years of the women” in popular music and criticism, and an exploration of age, subjectivity, and popular music.
Kenneth DeLong, “’And the women wicky wacky woo’”: Music as Trans-National Comedy in the Jeeves and Wooster Series”
One of the most popular British television comedy shows of the early 1990s, the Jeeves and Wooster series achieved its success not only through the clever adaptation of P G. Wodehouse’s highly popular Jeeves stories by Clive Exton but through the brilliance of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry in to two leading roles. Crucial also to the tone and wit of the series was the musical component, one that included the catchy theme music by Anne Dudley, as well as the performance (by Hugh Laurie) of several American popular songs of the 1920s and 1930s, the period during which the show was set.
This paper treats the role of music as a central comic element in the show, addressing both the treatment of the non-diegetic theme music (by classically-trained film composer Anne Dudley) and, particularly, the American popular songs as performed by Hugh Laurie as Bertie which are treated diegetically.
The paper explores the thread of trans-national humour that runs through the series, shown through Bertie’s interest in “contemporary” American music. Through the songs, the viewer is treated (with intended comedy) to the British view of America during this period. However, t is worth noting here that P.G. Wodehouse lived off and on in The United States for twenty years, specifically during the heyday of early Broadway; he was also the author of a great many lyrics for the American popular theatre, notably with Jerome Kern and Guy Bolton for shows for the Princess Theatre. Thus Wodehouse’s view of England (as expressed in the show) also embodies a significant American experience. These reciprocal points of view are shown to constitute an important referential element in the comedy as expressed in the music.
Kenneth DeLong is Professor of Music History at The University of Calgary. His principal areas of research are nineteenth-century Czech music, the music of Victorian England, opera, and the piano music of Liszt, Chopin, and Smetana. He has published articles in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The Victorian Review, The Journal of the American Liszt Society, The Canadian University Music Review, and Theatre History Studies, and has contributed chapters to several books, including Convention in 18th- and 19th-Century Music, Liszt and his World (ed. M. Saffle), Janáček and Czech Music, and Liszt: A Chorus of Voices. With Friedemann Sallis and Robin Elliott he is editor of the book Centre and Periphery, Roots and Exile: Interpreting the Music of István Anhalt, György Kurtág, and Sándor Veress (Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2011). Recently, his work has moved outside conventional musicology to include the study of Latin American music and music for film, with conference presentations in Blacksburg (Virginia), York (Pennsylvania), Torino (Italy), and Victoria, B.C.
Video Games and Opera: Friday, July 12, 15:20-16:50
David Ferrandino, “Representations of Opera in Video Games: Final Fantasy VI and the ‘Aria di Mezzo Carattere’”
While video games like Guitar Hero offer an obvious interactive musical experience, earlier, less technologically advanced games have had as great an impact on the musical lives of the average consumer. The deep level of player engagement is what defines video games as a distinct genre of media with role playing games—where the player assumes the identity of an on-screen avatar and oversees its development—encouraging a deeper level of immersion. In such games music becomes more than an ambient part of the scenery and more like a character in the narrative similar to some films and operas, garnering certain reactions from the players, becoming part of the solutions to in-game puzzles, and interacting directly and indirectly with characters. This study examines a sequence in the video game Final Fantasy VI, released in 1994 by Square Co., Ltd., in which the player’s on-screen characters must literally participate in the performance of an opera.
The music for this opera was written by Nobuo Uematsu, composer for the first eleven games in the Final Fantasy series, and includes the stylistic features of the waltz, heavy metal, and the fugue. Within this diverse musical setting, the plot of the opera draws upon elements of French Grand Opera: a pseudo-historical storyline complete with dramatic effects, including a battle scene, a ball, and a duel. I argue that these theatrical gestures tied to operatic traditions pull the participant into the actual performance of “Aria de Mezzo Carattere”. By choosing the correct lines of text from the libretto and enacting the accompanying stage directions, the participant engages with music as the plot unfolds. In effect, the interactive format enables the player to acquire an enhanced relationship with the music that he or she would not gain otherwise. In a context that considers the role of art music in our mass-mediated society, I find that Final Fantasy VI may be one of the few means that a particular generation coming of age in the 1990s had to access the conventions of nineteenth-century opera.
David Ferrandino is a Ph.D. candidate in historical musicology at the University at Buffalo, SUNY. He is studying post-1945 American music under Dr. Stephanie Vander Wel, with an emphasis on minimalism and popular music. Currently Mr. Ferrandino is living on a farm in upstate New York, teaching music theory at Jefferson Community College, and completing his dissertation on the function of irony in popular music entitled “Irony, Mimicry, and Mockery: American Popular Music of the Late Twentieth Century.”
Will Cheng, “Little Big Operas”
When operatic singing occurs in video games, it rarely fails to take centre stage, calling attention to the aesthetic conceits and playful dimensions of operas and games alike. Games, of course, usually can’t afford to contain full-length operas: an extended presentation of lyric drama would be difficult to implement, potentially costly to license, and impose an extensive digression from a player’s main adventure. For the sake of practical design, operatic embeddings in games thus tend to be distilled into brief diversions, clichés, and soundbites – whether it’s a synthesized aria in Final Fantasy VI (1994), a caricature of a diva (the corpulent Inge Wagner) in No One Lives Forever (2000), or the redundant rehearsal of Cavaradossi’s execution scene from Tosca in Hitman: Blood Money (2006).
Histories of early game music commonly stress the challenges that audio designers faced in their attempts to fashion salient sounds out of simple beeps and boops. My paper offers a variation on this narrative, with a view to how the three abovementioned games incorporate opera through strategies of reductive design. I enquire into methods of aesthetic distillation – specifically, the ways in which these games capture, in minimal fashion, opera’s magisterial and monumental characteristics (with a reliance on, for example, parody, stereotypes, the repetition of musical material, and other economizing schemes). Motivating my investigations more broadly are reflections on what embedded spectacles in games may teach us about intermediality, narrative frames, and the stakes of stylized violence.
William Cheng is a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. His first book, Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press. At the moment, he’s working on a monograph titled Musical Meritocracies in the Age of New Media and an edited volume called Ivory Tower Blues: Vox Populi and Critical Inquiry. His publications have appeared in journals such as 19th-Century Music, Cambridge Opera Journal, Ethnomusicology, and the Journal of the American Musicological Society. He enjoys improvising at the piano, writing short stories, and cooking experimentally. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://scholar.harvard.edu/willcheng.
Helen A. Rowe, “Classical Music in Game Space: How Portal 2’s Turret Opera Redefines Performance”
Despite a growing knowledge of the important role of music in video games, little research has been done on the reception of classical music performance within video games. Examining classical music in a successful in-game role could shed light on what factors make classical performance successful in the eyes of young potential audience members–the generational group which is both the most affiliated with video games and the most absent in classical performance venues today. To explore what makes classical music successful in gaming, I focus on the ending opera scene in Portal 2–a scene which, despite its ties to a genre traditionally unpopular with gamers, is universally adored within the gaming community. Mary Ann Doane’s “fantasmatic body” concept is a window through which to analyze both the events of the game scene and the Turret Opera’s widespread success. Both the Turret Opera and traditional opera scenes utilize the fantasmatic body as a way to create a connection between the performer and the audience member, but in radically different ways. While traditional opera performance subsumes the audience member’s sense of agency and spatial orientation in search of a greater musical connection, the Turret opera’s placement within game space means that the same factors constitute an important part of the gamer’s connection to the performance. Ultimately, Portal fans’ positive reactions to the Turret Opera suggest that a simple generational change in musical taste cannot fully explain why opera is unpopular with younger audiences. What has changed between generations is the manner in which music is best assimilated into the listener’s consciousness. Considering how to incorporate some of the Turret Opera’s successful traits into live performances could help attract younger audiences to classical venues.
Helen Rowe is a recent graduate of the Lawrence Conservatory of Music, where she received a BM in violin performance. She wrote her honors thesis on issues of music and embodiment in Portal and Portal 2, and is interested in pursuing video game music studies. Most recently, she presented at Lawrence’s 2013 Women in Gaming Symposium. The experience of balancing duties as Lawrence Symphony Orchestra concertmaster with writing her thesis led Helen to become particularly interested in the connections between video gaming and music performance. Helen is from Troy, New York.
YouTube Music (via Skype): Friday, July 12, 17:00-18:00
Monique Ingalls, “Worship on Screen: Congregational Singing, Digital Devotion, and the New Audiovisual Iconography”
Social media platforms such as YouTube have enabled music, images, and religious devotional practices to become conjoined in new and complex ways. This paper uses internet ethnography and multimedia analysis to explore the devotional practices surrounding several popular evangelical Christian worship music videos on YouTube. In these devotional videos, amateur creators overlay commercial audio recordings of their favorite congregational worship songs with a variety of visual effects, including moving imagery, film clips, still photographs, song lyrics, and bible verses.
This paper sketches the shape of the new networked worship practices enabled by the creation and sharing of these small-screen devotional videos and highlights the broader social and economic implications of their use. I argue that the worship video is a novel form of twenty-first century audiovisual iconography—a multimedia devotional resource that draws together the preexisting strands of evangelical visual piety surrounding the image and the “worship lifestyle” invoked by the discourses surrounding commercial worship music recordings. By following worship videos’ complex pathways of circulation, I demonstrate the ways in which musical devotional practices are woven together as they move from the small screens of private worship to the large screens of public worship and back again. As these videos play an increasingly important role in (re-)mediating worship music, evangelical congregational worship is being transformed into a site of audiovisual convergence in which song lyrics, images, and music are combined into a powerful experiential whole. Because it is likely that the small screen will provide an enduring site for religious practice in the twenty-first century, exploring its use is crucial for understanding emerging forms of religiosity. Small screens enable religious audiovisual media to insert themselves into the structures of daily life which enables them, in conjunction with a range of other offline practices, to shape embodied ways of listening, viewing, and worshipping.
Monique Ingalls is a Postdoctoral Research & Teaching Fellow in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge. Her research interests centre upon the intersections of music, religion, and popular culture. Monique has recent and forthcoming articles in ethnomusicology, popular music, and religious studies journals and is the co-editor of two forthcoming volumes on congregational singing. She is also co-chair of Society for Ethnomusicology’s Section for Religion, Music, & Sound and co-founder and co-organiser of the biennial conference ‘Christian Congregational Music: Local and Global Perspectives’.
Patricia G. Lange, “Phenomenologies of Nostalgic Sound in YouTube Videos”
Vernacular video is often perceived as narcissistic. However, genres such as video blogging and remix can reveal cultural themes and forms of entertainment that emotionally touch broad cohorts of participants on video-sharing sites. The present paper argues that parodic live action enactments of television shows and video games also invite delighted and sometimes wistful nostalgic readings of past uses of media in childhood. These feelings take on particular intensities among teens who are making the transition away from childhood. This paper examines how music and sound generate feelings of nostalgia that are linked to past media experiences. It applies Sobchack’s (1999) phenomenological analysis, which argues that viewers’ perceptions of mediated subjects vary according to different dimensions of experience. For example, in Sobhack’s analysis, family members see “through” particular home movies, quite beyond the image itself, to imagine a flood of prior memories of the photographic subject who is depicted in a home video. Similarly, in the present case, music and sound also enable participants to move beyond the immediate artifact and re-experience important media memories from their past.
Informed by a larger two-year ethnographic study of YouTube, this paper focuses on two videos, one which contains a live-action parody of the children’s animated program and song, Dora the Explorer, and a second one that is a live-action instantiation of a popular video game, complete with cleverly re-imagined sound effects. Combining researchers’ analyses and participant feedback in posted comments, it is clear that music and sound are crucial mechanisms that both trigger a nostalgic past while enabling teen-aged video creators to distance themselves from certain media as they transition away from childhood. The paper argues that Sobchack’s analysis applies to sound, which facilitates nostalgic readings of media in a way that participants can never relive but can re-experience through aural imaginaries.
Patricia G. Lange is Assistant Professor of Critical Studies at California College of the Arts, where she teaches courses on digital cultures, anthropology of technology, and ethnographic methods. She is an anthropologist researching computer-mediated communication, online emotion, video sharing, technical identities, and social media and civic engagement. Her recently completed manuscript, Kids on YouTube: Technical Identities and Digital Literacies is currently in press. She also recently released an ethnographic film, entitled Hey Watch This! Sharing the Self Through Media, which chronicles how people use media to share the self in everyday on- and offline encounters.
Performance in Video: Saturday, July13, 9:00-10:00
Anabel Maler, “Sign Language Song Music Videos: Deaf and Hearing Perspectives”
Sign language song interpretation is a popular medium for musical expression among Deaf, hearing and hard of hearing performers on YouTube. Song signers combine sign language, spoken language, music, and gesture to form immensely popular videos and live shows. These song signing performances range in complexity from intricate multimedia productions involving costumes, props, sets, and printed language, to understated videos featuring a signer interpreting while seated at his or her computer. In recent years, dedicated communities have begun to form around particular song signers and performing groups.
The purpose of the signed song varies widely among different song-signing communities. In this paper, I deal with the various videos produced by different online groups. Signed songs by hearing people are often meant to increase accessibility to music for deaf people: what kind of techniques do signers use to achieve this effect? How does the meaning of the signed song change when the signer is d/Deaf or hard of hearing? Signed interpretations have played a controversial role in Deaf culture; does this controversy play out in videos by the d/Deaf and hard of hearing?
In exploring these questions, I compare different kinds of song signing by d/Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing performers. Through close readings of song signing videos, I investigate how communities and individual song signers enact differing conceptions of disability and accessibility in their performances.
Anabel Maler is currently a doctoral student at the University of Chicago. She hails from Ottawa, and completed her Master’s degree in music theory at McGill University in 2012. Her Master’s thesis concerned the use of compound melody in the music of Arvo Pärt. Anabel’s interests include music and gesture, late twentieth-century music, disability studies, and music in Deaf culture. Her article on the analysis of song signing techniques was recently published in Music Theory Online, and a further essay on Deaf and hearing song signing practices will be published in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies.
Eric Hung “Psy as the New Clownish Charlie Chan: Two Video Parodies of ‘Gangnam Style’”
In July 2012, PSY’s “Gangnam Style” music video was uploaded on Youtube. Known primarily for his humor and anti-establishment stance, PSY possesses neither the sex appeal nor the suaveness of most K-pop stars. In this song, he ironically performs his awkward invisible horse dance while claiming to be a classy hipster in Seoul’s trendy Gangnam district. Unexpectedly, the “Gangnam Style” video went viral, and on December 21 became the first Youtube video to reach 1 billion views. In the United States, important celebrities and politicians, including President Obama, danced “Gangnam Style” publicly. It was also performed at the American Music Awards and on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. In this presentation, I contextualize “Gangnam Style” in the history of American dance crazes by examining both celebrities who have performed the dance on television and amateur dancers who have uploaded their renditions of “Gangnam Style” on Youtube. From the start of this phenomenon, many have propagated the notion that “Gangnam Style” is the new Macarena. I argue that this contention misses essential differences between the two dances. Specifically, the Macarena’s success and the backlash depend upon its inclusivity. The essence of the dance involves a set of arm movements that can be correctly executed by almost everyone, even people who remained seated. With “Gangnam Style,” neither the performance nor its judging is easy. It is more upbeat, and the movements require at least some athleticism. Whereas there are clearly correct and incorrect ways to do the Macarena, judging whether someone does “Gangnam Style” accurately is hard to determine. In emphasizing individuality and artistry (rather than accuracy), “Gangnam Style” follows much more closely to the tradition of American dance crazes than the Macarena. Today, amateur dancers and celebrities can use the song to perform their personal identities on small screens.
Eric Hung is Associate Professor of Music History at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. His research focuses on Asian American music, recent Chinese music, and contemporary music inspired by Balinese gamelan. He is also an active pianist, Balinese gamelan and erhu player.
Music in Children’s Television: Saturday, July13, 10:20-11:20
Aaron Manela, “The Signifyin(g) Muppet: Blues and the Performance of Race for the Heartland on Sesame Street”
Children’s educational television programming has a long history of leveraging popular song styles, and their cultural and ethnic associations, as pedagogical tools. Sesame Street, from its premiere in 1969, articulated conceptions of black American music and culture that brought contemporary political discourse on race and power into the living rooms of American children across the country. These musical lessons occurred in an environment in which performing race was an implicit part of the underlying pedagogical method – modeling, in which students are encouraged to identify with particular characters and imitate their behaviors – and an explicit part of the show’s overarching goal – showing brotherhood in diversity. This paper examines the ways in which changing cultural conceptions of race, gender, and Americana influence the construction and use of “blues” as a musical category on Sesame Street. The use of puppetry and animation complicates the embodied elements of who sings the blues, while the pedagogical framework of the songs informs the relationship of their musical and lyrical forms to more standardized conceptions of blues. Drawing on the writings of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Ingrid Monson, Hazel Carby, and Victoria Johnson, this paper suggests that the same issues of authenticity, cultural appropriation, and reinforcing or subverting stereotypes that musicologists are problematizing in popular performance studies are critical to our understanding of music in children’s programming.
Aaron Manela holds a B.A. in music and physics from Brandeis University. He has pursued graduate studies in composition with Robert Kyr and David Crumb, and holds an M.A. in Musicology from the University of Oregon. His thesis, “Arthur Saint-Léon’s The Little Humpbacked Horse in Context,” explored the ways in which Cesare Pugni’s music and St. Leon’s choreography construct who is–and is not-Russian in this 1864 ballet. Aaron is currently in his third year as a Ph.D. student at Case Western Reserve University, where he continues to study the intersection of music and identity construction in multiple eras.
Ryan Bunch, “From Broadway to Sesame Street: Neighborhoods of Make-Believe and the Afterlife of Tin Pan Alley on Children’s Television”
When Sesame Street premiered on PBS in 1969, American popular music was in transition. According to a conventional narrative, rock music was in the process of displacing Broadway and Tin Pan Alley styles to the periphery of the musical landscape. In fact, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway lived on, and one of the places where they were most energetically preserved was on children’s television. Most of the regular cast members of Sesame Street had Broadway credentials, and Broadway stars made frequent guest appearances. Several of the earliest episodes included performances of well-known musical numbers from actual Broadway shows, and songs were often staged and shot in the style of film musicals. Meanwhile, Fred Rogers welcomed preschoolers to join his own television neighborhood while singing his trademark songs in the Tin Pan Alley tradition.
Traditional Broadway seemed to move to these other imaginary neighborhoods of children’s television, where the domesticating effects of the small screen defined virtual spaces of childhood using puppetry, animation, and the sound of Tin Pan Alley. Children were invited to participate in diverse communities otherwise beyond the reach of their living rooms in songs like “Won’t You By My Neighbor?,” “Who are the People in Your Neighborhood?,” and the Sesame Street theme song. These Tin Pan Alley television neighborhoods collapsed time and space, domesticating the Broadway sound, bringing it into the intimacy of home, and assimilating it to the world of childhood. The musical sound of these neighborhoods was all the more important because of the nature of television as a home medium, in which viewers depend upon the sound component of the programming while not being fully visually engaged with the screen.
Ryan Bunch teaches courses in music appreciation, American popular music, and applied vocal performance at Rutgers University-Camden and the Community College of Philadelphia. His current research interests focus on the American musical and its associations with childhood, animation and puppetry. He has recently presented papers on The Muppet Movie, Bye Bye Birdie,and musical transformations of The Wizard of Oz.
Classical Music in Screen Media: Saturday, July13, 11:30-12:30
Gillian Irwin, “Chopin and Eternal Sonata: Escaping Reality, Constructing Identity”
Eternal Sonata, produced in 2009 by Tri-Crescendo for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, is not likely to be picked up by your average musician—but perhaps it should be. Eternal Sonata is a Japanese role-playing game whose characters exist inside the dream of Frederic Chopin, dying in Paris, 1849. Chopin teams up with these characters to guard their homeland against enslavement. This narrative parallels Chopin’s life in several ways: a character named Polka reminds him of his sister Emilia who died at a young age, and the characters, like Chopin, experience displacement from their homes. The game is divided into chapters, each named after one of Chopin’s pieces and containing a lesson that teaches players about Chopin’s life and work.
Most interestingly for music studies, this revolution narrative is framed by larger questions of identity, consciousness, and reality for Chopin himself. This paper will explore various aspects of music as presented in Eternal Sonata and will aim to uncover the game’s interpretations of Chopin’s music. Chopin’s “Revolutionary Etude”—Opus 10, No. 12 in C minor—is the focal point of the paper, as this piece is used to represent both of the main conflicts in Eternal Sonata: first, to introduce the brewing Revolution between Count Waltz and his people, and second, as a remix during the final boss battle as Chopin struggles to determine whether he is living in reality or a dream world. In Eternal Sonata, Chopin is portrayed as a composer attempting to escape reality through either the death of his physical body or the death of the dream world he has inadvertently created. This paper will address the character of Chopin as he is portrayed in Eternal Sonata and how the game’s use of Chopin’s biography and music—the “Revolutionary Etude” and its remix in particular—interpret Chopin’s work.
Gillian Irwin graduated from Muhlenberg College in May 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and English. In August, she will embark on a year-long Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Indonesia, where she studied abroad in Fall 2011 with the School for International Training’s Arts, Religion, and Social Change program. Upon her return, Gillian plans to pursue a PhD in Ethnomusicology, developing her interests in temporality, Balinese gamelan, and notational styles. Gillian has previously presented at regional and national conferences of the College Music Society and the Society for Ethnomusicology.
Michael Mackenzie, “The Medium of the North, the Message of Music on the Small Screen: Glenn Gould, the CBC, and the Construction of Canadian Cultural Distinction”
Music-making is an important means by which national and personal identities are created, articulated, and defined. Glenn Gould’s television programmes for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in the 1960s and 70s articulated a potent national space for its viewers that interwove Gould’s distinctive musical-national ideology with the Canadian intellectual zeitgeist of that time. In the context of Cold War, the Canadian government—through its media apparatus, the CBC—valued and valourized certain cultural practices as constituting a national culture, which were in turn institutionalized and promoted as a Canadian national brand. Firstly, I will suggest an interpretation of how Gould capitalized on Marshall McLuhan’s pervasive influence during the 1960s and in turn located himself in the intellectual tradition of Canadian economist and historian Harold Innis. Secondly, I will consider the arguments that Gould offers for the role of the mass media in social organization pertaining to musical practice and reception. Finally, I will analyse three case studies of Gould’s CBC Television programmes as performances of a Cold War-era Canadian identity and that of a postmodern, intellectual artist: Music in the U.S.S.R. (1962), The Canada Centennial Concert (1967), and The Idea of North (1970). Interestingly, Gould—like McLuhan, but unlike Innis—saw the television medium as a sort of media salvation from the spatial imbalance initiated by the printing press, an imbalance all three men saw as responsible for the societal shifts that brought about the evils of nationalism, imperialism, and war in the twentieth century. As the Internet has replaced television as the dominant media of the West today, Gould’s contribution has grown in prominence, and the broadcast performances, interviews, and documentaries made by Gould are more available than ever. Through this study I will offer some reflections on the social meaning of the televised work of Glenn Gould.
Michael MacKenzie is a doctoral student in musicology at York University. His diverse research interests include the oeuvre of Glenn Gould, folk music, and military music in Canadian national identity; jazz and popular music; and twentieth century media theory. Michael recently completed his Masters Degree in musicology at the University of Toronto with funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, prior to which he completed a Bachelor of Music at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He has also been involved at the Improvisation, Community and Social Practice program at the University of Guelph.
Musical Paratexts: Saturday, July13, 1:30-2:30
Annette Davison, “The Show Starts Here: Viewer and Fan Interactions with Recent Television Serials Main Title Sequences”
The focus of this paper is the exploration of types (and levels) of interaction between viewers and main title sequences, and between produsers/prosumers and these sequences via mash-up videos.
Recent title sequences for high production value television serials are generally one of two kinds: either extremely minimal, appearing part way through the episode with credits dispersed through the show, or as an extended format of c. ninety seconds’ duration at or near the start of the show. In my first article on this topic I presented analyses of examples of the latter, arguing that the sequences form an efficient part of the brand image for both the show and commissioning channel. More recently by means of a series of focus groups with regular viewers of television serials I explored the extent to which such sequences are watched or skipped by viewers, and how such decisions are made. The choice of music is a key factor here. In this paper I discuss the findings from this research alongside preliminary findings from a study of fan-produced title sequences made “in the style of” other shows’ title sequences; a particular category of mash-up video. While the sequences produced do not tend to “edit footage to subtext-revealing music” as is more commonly the case with fan vidding, for example, I would argue that they are revealing in other ways.
Annette Davison is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Edinburgh where she researches and teaches music in films, on television, on stage and musicology. Her most recent books are Alex North’s A Streetcar Named Desire: A Film Score Guide (Scarecrow, 2009) and, co-edited with Julie Brown, The Sounds of the Silents in Britain (OUP, 2012). She is currently developing research on the history, analysis and reception of main title and end credit sequences for television serials, with essays on the topic in The Oxford Handbook to New Audiovisual Aesthetics (forthcoming, 2013) and the Danish open-access journal Sound Effects (forthcoming, 2013).
Ben Winters, “Idolising the Score: Indiana Jones Paratexts on the Small Screen”
The continuing cultural currency of Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981) ensures that references to its visual language and plot are easily recognized in small-screen entertainments found on television and the internet. Recreations of one of the film’s most recognisable scenes—in which Indiana Jones steals an idol from a subterranean South-American Temple—are particularly common, and thus provide a series of paratexts (of a kind) to complement and inform our viewing of the film. These range from affectionate parodies in TV cartoon comedies like The Simpsons or Family Guy to the amateur stop-motion Lego animation and fan-produced re-imaginings found on YouTube.
How these paratexts use John Williams’s score, however, seems to vary quite markedly—from merely referencing the register of the music to actual quotation. Even when the appropriate cue is quoted, however, the paratext may not preserve the careful alignment of music and image found in the film. In assessing the relative success of these scenes in referencing the palpable tension of the original, then, I draw attention to the ways in which such paratexts highlight music’s constitutive role in the scene, and reveal the importance of its positioning for successful realisation of the narrative’s assumed intentions. As such, these paratexts point to the wider significance of the score for the film’s identity—something that is further reinforced by the thematic recall practiced in the film’s sequels.
Ben Winters is Lecturer in Music at The Open University, in the UK. He is author of Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s The Adventures of Robin Hood: A Film Score Guide (Scarecrow Press, 2007), and has published on film music in edited collections of essays for Routledge and Equinox Press. His articles on film music have appeared in journals such as Music & Letters (“The Non-diegetic Fallacy: Film, Music, and Narrative Space”), the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, and Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, and a new monograph entitled Music, Performance, and the Realities of Film: Shared Concert Experiences in Screen Fiction will be published by Routledge in 2014.