Sound and Image: Experimental Music and the Popular Horror Film (1960 to the present day)

Abel, David (2008) Sound and Image: Experimental Music and the Popular Horror Film (1960 to the present day). Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study investigates the functional relationship between sound and image within a particular generic and historical context - experimental music and the popular horror
film, from 1960 to the present day. The study responds to a significant gap in the literature that requires sustained and in-depth academic attention. Despite recent expansion, the field of film music studies has yet to deal with alternative functional models that challenge the overall applicability of the dominant narrative-based
theoretical framework.

Recent scholarship suggests that a proper theoretical comprehension of horror film music's primary function requires a refocusing of the hermeneutic emphasis upon
dimensions of the cinematic (or audio-visual) sign that can be described as `nonrepresentational.' This study applies a relatively new psychoanalytical framework to explain how the post-1960 horror film deploys these non-representational elements, incorporating them into an overall cinematic strategy which indexes the transition
towards a post-classical cinematic aesthetics.

More specifically, this study assessesju st how efficiently experimental musical styles and techniques aid the reconfiguration of the syntactical components of horror film to these very ends. Using three case study directors, this study focuses upon major developments in musical style and cinematic technology, describing the ways in which
these have facilitated this cinematic strategy. A particularly useful contribution to the knowledge is made here via the study's explanation as to how the particular
psychoanalytical framework applied can illuminate the functional and theoretical relationships often posited between both the formal and subjective dimensions of the
post-1960 horror film experience.

The conclusions reached suggest this theoretical explication of post-1960 horror film music's function can now take its place alongside previously dominant narrative
frameworks. Given the influential status of the horror genre, the findings of this investigation prove useful for comprehending the increasing heterogeneity of postclassical
film music in general, and the functional relationship(s) of sound and image in particular.

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