The Film Score Stands Alone; Wonderland in Elfman’s “Alice’s Theme”

10 May 2018

The Film Score Stands Alone; Wonderland in Elfman’s “Alice’s Theme”

A musical score often bookends a film, both inviting the audience’s attention as the opening credits fade and waving goodbye as the end credits roll. This is the case in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010): at the start of the film, pieces of a theme by Danny Elfman take form over the opening Disney logo and the theme develops fully as the first image — the moon among drifting clouds — fades into view. The music grows stronger as the film’s title looms across the sky and we see the clock face of Big Ben come into focus.

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The Recorded Performance Brought to Life in Superfruit’s “Rise”

31 March 2017

The Recorded Performance Brought to Life in Superfruit’s “Rise”

Regardless of personal musical preference, live performances are generally more lifelike than recorded performances. A live performance comes with a visual as well as an auditory representation of a piece of music, which greatly impacts the listener’s experience. Emotion, which drives the majority of musical messages, is much more palpable when it can be expressed through the performer’s face and body movements. Their surroundings are also vital in determining what sort of message they intend to send. A music video of a recorded performance can give these cues, but since the performance is not happening live, there is always an element of artificiality because the performers have the power to create whatever image they want, regardless of whether it can be expressed or replicated live.… Read the rest

Breaking the Barriers of Diegesis in Hooper’s Les Misérables

22 December 2016

Breaking the Barriers of Diegesis in Hooper’s Les Misérables

According to Cameron Mackintosh, the leading producer of the immensely profitable and dramatic megamusical, originally “[o]pera was for the sophisticates … and musicals – with their accessible lyrics and catchy tunes – were cheap fodder for the masses.” This was certainly true of the early 20th century, when musicals were comparable to vaudeville and were largely unintegrated. Today, composers have gone to great lengths to break the molds of the musical and its low brow stigma. One way of doing this was the emergence of the megamusical, described as “‘through-composed popular operas’ and ‘poperas,’” which are often through-sung, creating a blend of high and low brow art.Read the rest

Music as Science Fiction; Sun Ra’s Soundtrack in Space is the Place

25 October 2016

Music as Science Fiction; Sun Ra’s Soundtrack in Space is the Place

Countless scholars and fans alike have attempted to define the enigmatic category that is science fiction, but there is no one definition that can be settled upon by everyone. As Vivian Sobchack puts it, “if it is to remain relevant, a definition must accommodate the flux and change which is present in any living and popular art form.” Sobchack raises a good point because the genre is constantly evolving, so its definitions must evolve along with it. I have found that piecing together elements of multiple definitions produces the most accurate depiction of the genre.

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“Edelweiss”; From Broadway to Film

22 November 2016

“Edelweiss”; From Broadway to Film

In this day and age of super-fans and technology that can record original works, adding a scene or moment to a film adaptation of a work that was not in the original is a risky business. This often upsets many loyal fans who wish the adapters would stick to the original script and avoid adding new content. However, I would argue that an addition to the 1965 film adaption of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music that was not in the original Broadway production of 1959 did in fact enhance the show.Read the rest

The String Quartet Through the Ages: Crumb’s Black Angels Explored

21 April 2015

The String Quartet Through the Ages: Crumb’s Black Angels Explored

George Crumb’s Black Angels acts as an excellent demonstration of the drastic difference between an avant-garde quartet of the later twentieth century, and a traditional Beethovenian string quartet of the early seventeenth century. The first difference between Crumb’s piece and other more traditional works is that his quartet is played with electric strings as well as maracas, crystal glasses, glass rods, metal thimbles, metal plectrums, tam-tams, and even the occasional spoken recitative. This widespread array of sounds creates an atmosphere quite distinct from the more conventional quartet, in particular, Ludwig van Beethoven’s D-Major Quartet, Op.Read the rest

Beethoven’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 No. 3

18 February 2015

Beethoven’s String Quartet in D Major, Op. 18 No. 3

The first movement of Beethoven’s String Quartet in D Major is a mostly angelic-sounding piece with a few mischievous deviations into minor keys. Throughout the piece, the dominant is used heavily, which leaves the listener constantly eager for the next note, anticipating its resolution. The quartet begins with a grand pair of whole notes on A and then G that seem to lean toward the tonic, which is later emphasized by several short ornamental phrases. The musical atmosphere of 1P is quite dreamlike, and reminds me of the leisurely way a feather floats back and forth in midair as it falls until finally, gently, it reaches the ground.Read the rest