Changing Tunes: The Use of Pre-existing Music in Film: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Changing Tunes: The Use of Pre-existing Music in Film

1st Edition

By Robynn Stilwell

Edited by Phil Powrie


226 pages

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The study of pre-existing film music is now a well-established part of Film Studies, covering 'classical' music and popular music. Generally, these broad musical types are studied in isolation. This anthology brings them together in twelve focused case studies by a range of scholars, including Claudia Gorbman, Jeongwon Joe, Raymond Knapp, and Timothy Warner. The first section explores art music, both instrumental and operatic; it revolves around the debate on the relation between the aural and visual tracks, and whether pre-existing music has an integrative function or not. The second section is devoted to popular music in film, and shows how very similar the functions of popular music in film are to the supposedly more 'elite' classical music and opera. Case studies in part 1: Eyes Wide Shut, Raging Bull, Brief Encounter, Détective, The Godfather Part III, three versions of the Carmen story (DeMille's, Preminger's and Rosi's), Amadeus, The Birth of a Nation, M: Eine Stadt sucht einen Mörder, Needful Things, Rat Race. Case studies in part 2: various films by Almodóvar, Young Frankenstein, Pulp Fiction, Trainspotting, Amélie, High Fidelity, Ghost World, Heavenly Creatures, The Virgin Suicides, and the video Timber by Coldcut.


’…exemplifies how to explore film music in a way that is understandable to a broad reading (and film) audience… Recommended.’ Choice 'There is much of interest here to the popular reader…' MusicWeb '… the anthology […] provides not only the most extensive treatment of the subject to date but also the most convincing proof of the topic's significance and intrinsically interdisciplinary, collaborative nature.' Current Musicology ’… contains a large amount of imaginative, relevant and penetrating scholarship… the success of this volume is attributable in part to its breadth of considerations; each essay is a thoughtful account complementing the others and, usefully, virtually every essay models a different approach that might be reapplied to wholly different material. Changing Tunes is thus both self-contained and suggestive, giving it a sense of vitality and permanency.’ Screen 48:2 ’… Changing Tunes is a landmark as the first major exploration of both classical and popular pre-existing music in cinema… The volume will find a favoured place on the shelves of musicologists working on film and of scholars in other fields who engage with film music in their research.’ Music and Letters

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. Part I Pre-existing Classical Film Scores: Ears wide open: Kubrick's music, Claudia Gorbman; Classical music, ambiguity and film, Mike Cormack; The Godfather Part III: film, opera and the generation of meaning, Lars Franke; High and low culture: Bizet's Carmen and the cinema, Ann Davies; Reconsidering Amadeus: Mozart as film music, Jeongwon Joe; The troll amongst us, Kristi A. Brown. Part II Popular Music and Film: Queer pleasures: the bolero, camp and Almodóvar, Vanessa Knights; Music, electricity, and the 'sweet mystery of life' in Young Frankenstein, Raymond Knapp; Popular song as leitmotiv in Pulp Fiction and Trainspotting, Ronald Rodman; The fabulous destiny of the accordion in French cinema, Phil Powrie; Vinyl communion: the record as ritual object in girls' rites-of-passage films, Robynn Stilwell; Narrating sound: the pop video in the age of the sampler, Timothy Warner. Filmography; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author/Editor

Phil Powrie is Professor at the Centre for Research into Film & Media, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. Robynn Stilwell is Assistant Professor at the Department of Art, Music and Theater, Georgetown University, USA.

About the Series

Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series

Popular musicology embraces the field of musicological study that engages with popular forms of music, especially music associated with commerce, entertainment and leisure activities. The Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series aims to present the best research in this field. Authors are concerned with criticism and analysis of the music itself, as well as locating musical practices, values and meanings in cultural context. The focus of the series is on popular music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a remit to encompass the entirety of the world’s popular music.

Critical and analytical tools employed in the study of popular music are being continually developed and refined in the twenty-first century. Perspectives on the transcultural and intercultural uses of popular music have enriched understanding of social context, reception and subject position. Popular genres as distinct as reggae, township, bhangra, and flamenco are features of a shrinking, transnational world. The series recognizes and addresses the emergence of mixed genres and new global fusions, and utilizes a wide range of theoretical models drawn from anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis, media studies, semiotics, postcolonial studies, feminism, gender studies and queer studies.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General