(Above: I can’t think of the Star Wars title crawl without hearing the famous theme song that plays at the top of the movie)
November 29th, 2016
Sound and Image: David Sonnenschein
Diegetic vs. Non-Diegetic
Diegetic – Diegetic sounds occur within the character’s world, and might be audible to them. Ex. Dialogue
Non-Diegetic – Non-diegetic sounds do not occur within the character’s world, and is audible to the audience alone. Ex. Star Wars theme music
Musics’ Role in Film
Emotional signifier – Music that helps the audience to suspend their belief, by enchanting them into a fictional reality. Ex. Music as students arrive at Hogwarts in Harry Potter.
Continuity – Music that runs through video cuts creating continuity.
Narrative cueing – Music that aids the audience’s interpretation of a scene, or that cues them for something surprising like comedy or dangers. Ex. Jaws theme.
Narrative unity – Music that aids a movie’s narrative structure through repetition, variation etc. Ex. The variations of The Godfather’s Waltz in The Godfather trilogy.
Programmatic Music – Music that is chosen to match the action on screen. Ex. The Cat Came Back
Amempatheic music – Music chosen to contrast with the audience or character’s feelings. Ex. Stuck in the Middle With You scene from Reservoir Dogs
Designing a Movie for Sound: David Thom
Efficient dialogue – There is a tendency to densely pack dialogue into a movie in the hopes of making every moment work. Thom proposes that moments without dialogue are opportunities to accentuate the sounds of the environment, and make it a character as well.
Character’s need to listen – On a related note, an audience is better able to assume the perspective of a character if we allow that character time to actively listen to the diegetic sounds of the movie.
Picture and sound as collaborators – Sound does not only need to occur when a visual needs audio explanation. In the Thom example, the sound of a steel mill may be very loud, and can be heard from a distance. If characters are travelling towards the steel mill, and the audience is able to hear the steel mill before they even see it, it will make for a very realistic and immersive experience,
Heighten realism – The clash of lightsabers in Star Wars
Draw attention to a detail/evoke a feeling – The loudness of the breathing during the spacewalk in 2001: A Space Odyssey
Indicate a geographic locale – Somali music in Black Hawk Down
Define a character – Captain Jack Sparrow’s arrival to Port Royal in Pirates of the Caribbean
Sonnenschein, David. Sound Design: The Expressive Power of Music, Voice, and Sound Effects in Cinema. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions, 2001. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Thom, Randy. “Designing a Movie for Sound.” FilmSound. N.p., 1999. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.