The Gendered Score: Music in 1940s Melodrama and the Woman's Film  book cover
1st Edition

The Gendered Score: Music in 1940s Melodrama and the Woman's Film

ISBN 9781138264731
Published November 15, 2016 by Routledge
210 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

Heather Laing examines, for the first time, the issues of gender and emotion that underpin the classical style of film scoring, but that have until now remained unquestioned and untheorized, thus providing a benchmark for thinking on more recent and alternative styles of scoring. Many theorists have discussed this type of music in film as a signifier of emotion and 'the feminine', a capacity in which it is frequently associated with female characters. The full effect of such an association on either female or male characterization, however, has not been examined. This book considers the effects of this association by progress through three stages: cultural-historical precedents, the generic parameters of melodrama and the woman's film, and the narrativization of music in film through diegetic performance and the presence of musicians as characters. Case studies of specific films provide textual and musical analyses, and the genres of melodrama and the woman's film have been chosen as representative not only of the epitome of the Hollywood scoring style, but also of the narrative association of women, emotion and music. Laing leads to the conclusion that music functions as more than merely a signifier of emotion. Rather, it takes a crucial role in both indicating and determining how emotion is actually understood as part of the construction of gender and its representation in film.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; The siren and the muse: ideas of gender, emotion and subjectivity in music and film; Music and the voice in the woman's film; The female listener; The female musician; The male musician; Notes; Bibliography; Filmography; Index.

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Heather Laing is a freelance lecturer and writer and an Associate Tutor in Film Studies. She is the author of Gabriel Yared's The English Patient: A Film Score Guide, 'Emotion by Numbers: Music, Song and the Musical' in Musicals: Hollywood and Beyond, ed. Bill Marshall and Robynn J. Stilwell (Intellect, 2000) and 'The Rhythm of the Night: Reframing Silence, Music and Masculinity in Beau Travail' in European Film Music, ed. Miguel Mera and David Burnand.


’A pathbreaking study... Heather Laing’s book represents an important achievement in the nascent area of gendered study of film music. It is certain to spur further work and belongs on the shelf of scholars of film music and of gender.’ Music and Letters ’The Gendered Score is an excellent book... [an] enlightening study of a genre in which male and female characters' emotions - and our responses to their psychological trials - are constructed via subtle musical and extra-musical teams.’ Popular Music ’...this book offers a new approach to reading film music in relation to gender... you are set for an exciting, informative [...] read.’ Studies in Musical Theatre