by Jack Kessler, firstname.lastname@example.org
July 15, 2017 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on July 15, 2017.
Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: email@example.com
Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
"The history of the cinema is marked by wonderful collaborations between directors and composers.
"But what is the role of music in a film? Should it make itself understood or should it pass by un-noticed? Should it be something simply functional, or should it demand a place, equal to that of the image, an importance in the construction of a film? How can these parts work together? From the simple accompaniment to the work of art, there is an entire palette of 'movie music' which the great director / composer teams illustrate.
"From its birth cinematography has been associated with music. Earlier even than the reproduction of a noise or a voice, it is the sound of a violin which was the first to be captured by a camera and a wax-roll recording (1894). And when the cinema went to sound, it did so singing, in The Jazz Singer / Le chanteur de jazz (1927).
"When there was no satisfactory synchronization technique, the music of accompaniment always played an important role in the cinema. As in the theater, or opera, musicians or an orchestra provided an accompaniment for films in the moviehouse during a show.
"Michel Chion calls this the musique-de-fosse, music-of-the-orchestra-pit, background-music, commentary-sound -- as vs. musique d'écran, music of the screen, diegetic or action-music, music emanating from a source existing concretely in the film, actual-sound -- later on this musique-de-fosse would become the bande originale, or the film score, for the Hollywood studios.
"What does the music bring to the film?
"Music is used for its ability to transmit emotion to the spectator in the audience, but also to inspire the actors during the filming using the musicians' recordings. It emphasizes an action or provides a counterpoint to it, accentuates an emotion or sets the rhythm of a sequence: pursuits, falls, the role of a 'villain', moods... and the composers began to write original pieces for films. Camille Saint-Saens is the first composer in France to be credited for film music, for the music he composed for 'The Assassination of the Duc de Guise' (1912).
"Generic music, by its coloration and its ambience, conveys the atmosphere of a film, even before the first images appear. Sometimes themes, signature tunes, musical motifs, all can take the place of images. For example, the pizzicato of the shower-scene in Psycho, the theme of the harmonica in Once Upon a Time in the West, the anguish motif in Jaws, the suspense of Hitchcock's Rope, the humor of Oury's The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob, the moving themes of E.T.... all mark the history of the cinema with the strength of their evocations.
"What music: functional music or music for it's own sake?
"Must film music be understood or may it pass-by un-noticed? May it be a simple functional tune which accompanies an image, a 'measured-music' like the other elements of the piece such as the noises and the dialogs, or can it also reach beyond this simple illustrative function and assert, equally with the images, its greater importance in the construction of a film? From the simple need to the work of art, there exists an entire palette of 'film music'.
"The place which a piece of music will occupy in a film will depend upon the place which the director or the producer agrees to give it. The film is a collaborative work and, to that extent, it involves numerous contributors in the creative process. For the director, permitting the creation of the music to a composer can give him the feeling of having lost a piece of his own creative work. He may choose instead to use pre-existing music.
"For example, Stanley Kubrick used only pre-existing music, sometimes re-orchestrated to give him absolute control over his films. For 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), the principal titles use were Richard Strauss' overture to Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Johann Strauss II's The Blue Danube, extracts from György Ligeti's Requiem and Lux Aeterna, and Adam Khachaturian's adagio from his ballet Gayaneh.
"Another example of the total-artist, and another solution adopted for this desire for control of the creation, is Charlie Chaplin who composed his own music and created a production company, Charles Chaplin Productions, attached to United Artists, to preserve the 'final cut' and offer to his film a music exactly suited to it.
"When the director makes a choice to use original music, it stays subordinated to the film itself. The composer must understand that the director and the producer depend upon his work. He must anticipate the role which his piece will play in the film...
> Vladimir Cosma: "There are different schools. You have the American School where the music has a role far more functional, while one looks for a working-relationship in European cinema, one tries to achieve with the music something more than what Stravinski called merely 'decorative'. Music may 'decorate' a scene, but not as mere decoration does, more the way a painted masterpiece might. For me, good film music has a value in and of itself ; and when, suddenly, it enters the film, it serves to transform it and is not simply functional." Cinema and music, in perfect accord.
"Why work with the same composer?
"First, it is a question of good sense: 'Why change a winning team', if the film is a success. In Hollywood, this type of collaboration became bit by bit the rule during the 1950s and 1960s, when the idea of author-director developed. It was in that period that the great-duos began their collaboration: Alfred Hitchcock & Bernard Herrmann, Blake Edwards & Henry Mancini.
"For a director, it can be important to work with the same collaborators and team with whom there is a harmony, particularly for the positions which influence the vision of the director -- composer, crew chief, editor... The film is a collective work in which each contributor make the film become a work of art.
"How does one compose music for a film?
"Two production models must be distinguished. The model of the Hollywood studios, where the composer is a staff-member reporting to the producer, same as the director. Generally, the composer enters on the scene once the filming is finished. Someone gives him the lists of musical sequences which he must compose, with their exact timing, calibrated with the images. The director may have no contact with the composer, each plays a different role in making the film.
"The European model, where the film-maker is master-of-the-shop, from the initial idea for the film up to its distribution in the theaters. The director chooses a composer who reads the scenario, and discusses the various possible solutions with him. The composer submits his proposals at the moment of the filming and the choices are made in common. This model offers the music a greater place. The music contributes far more to the spirit of the film, the film embodies the music.
"In France, until the mid-1950s, the composer was not considered to be an author, but a technical collaborator, paid for his work. With the copyright law of March 11, 1957, the movie-maker, the author, the director and the composer all are considered authors. The composer has a 'droit moral' copyright in his work. He is consulted on all distributions and is entitled to copyright fees. The law marked the emergence of a new model of cinema in which the artistic dimension of the work had premier place: the cinema of the Nouvelle Vague / the New Wave..."
[Examples then follow from, and some with, and even some with some funny posturing and mugging by, Vladimir Cosma, Yves Robert, Hayao Miyazaki, Joe Hisaishi, Ennio Morricone, Sergio Leone, Hitchcock and Herrmann, Williams and Spielberg, Carter Burwell, and the Coen brothers... plus plentiful links...
[Your own commentary then is invited -- plenty of "pour aller plus loin" references -- all from:
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L’influx, le webzine de la bibliothèque
L’influx est le magazine numérique de la Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon. Il propose une mise en perspective d’un événement ou d’une thématique en fonction de l’actualité locale, nationale ou internationale.
So now a Note:
Music-at-the-Movies, brought to you by a great library in possession of a fabulous collection of both printed and manuscript "books" -- including one from Charlemagne's & Alcuin's library -- which prompts some questions --
-- sound needs images, images need sound, text needs both -- "Of what use is a book without pictures?", asked Alice...
The world has been resolutely-multimedia since the first sunset -- since the first sunset accompanied by a song, perhaps, but that surely came early -- more recently, the Internet and other digital media have been re-discovering the pleasures of blending sensations, of the usefulness of this -- the blending is closer to reality as-perceived, it seems.
But before digital media there was television, and the radio, and da-movies did the same -- and before that there was Grand Opera. And very soon now there will be Virtual Reality "helmets" -- already at the BnFrance up in Paris you can try those out, this summer... -- see this ejournal's June 15 issue --
-- and French "médiathèques" have realized all of this for some time, in their activities and collections as well as in just their formal names...
The process is a-historical because the history has been: we are not discovering or re-discovering "multi"-media, we just forget -- then suddenly we see and touch and feel and hear it all again -- it is a reassuring if sometimes confusing process.
And so now we have "multi"-media -- perhaps again -- so what?...
Seeking an answer to this question I've been playing with Pinterest, an emphatically image-based entertainment / infotainment web utility, with great pleasure and for several years now.
The eye-candy attractions of images are undeniably exciting, I can attest: Pinterest is relaxing -- millions of images, more Monet and Cezanne gathered together in-one-place than ever has been assembled, more pictures of wild animals too, more of Great Buildings, more of Politicians and of just how comical the latter-bunch all in fact can seem -- it is sheer pleasure, and useful as well, to view the variety of visual representations of things I'd previously "just read about" -- very like paging-through a picture-book, as Alice suggested... although now the Internet, and our omnipresent mobile phones, are giving us so many more images than we ever could afford before...
Will this change our perceptions? Our cognition? Text and verbal descriptions do not come close, to describing gothic cathedrals and our reactions to them -- Malraux saw this, "the voices of silence", Hugo saw it too, "Notre Dame de Paris" -- and images do this better, and the combination of the two even better.
So now let us add music, and other sensations, via our VR helmets. The movies did it, and that worked well for them. Multimedia may seem new, but it really never has been, not since the first sunset.
And so my respect for Walt Disney and his fellow-multimedia-pioneers, who, "embraced the 'talkies'", just went up several notches... see his museum the next time you are in San Francisco, it's fun...
FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071-5916 * | FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic | journal published since 1992 as a small-scale, | personal experiment, in the creation of large- | scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler. / \ Any material written by me which appears in ----- FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for // \\ any good purpose, so long as, a) they give me --------- credit and show my email address, and, b) it // \\ isn't going to make them money: if it is going to make them money, they must get my permission in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their permission. FYI France archives are in various places on the Internet, i.e. at http://listserv.uh.edu/archives/pacs-l.html (PACS-L), or http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/Collections/FYIFrance/, or https://list.indiana.edu/sympa/arc/exlibris-l/ (EXLIBRIS-L), or http://www.fyifrance.com. Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all gratefully received at email@example.com . Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved except as indicated above.
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