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Language, Music, and the BrainA Mysterious Relationship$
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Michael A. Arbib

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262018104

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262018104.001.0001

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Film Music and the Unfolding Narrative

Film Music and the Unfolding Narrative

(p.173) 7 Film Music and the Unfolding Narrative
Language, Music, and the Brain

Annabel J. Cohen

The MIT Press

This chapter focuses on the role of music in narrative film. Unlike most other sensory information in a film (i.e., the visual scenes, sound effects, dialog, and text), music is typically directed to the audience and not to the characters in the film. Several examples will familiarize the reader with some of the subtleties of film music phenomena. Two aspects of film music are introduced: congruence, which focuses on purely structural aspects, and association, which focuses on the associative meaning of the music. The nature of and interplay between the emotional experience of the audience (referred to as internal semantics) and the external “reality” of the film (referred to as external semantics) are discussed, and an assessment is made as to where music (in particular, film music) resides with respect to these two domains. Because the two dimensions of structure and association are orthogonal to the internal-external semantic dimensions, they define four quadrants for describing the relation between music (structure and associations) and film narrative’s internal and external semantics. Finally, the concept of a working narrative (WN) is introduced as the audience’s solution to the task of integrating and making sense out of the two sources of information provided in the film situation: sensory information (including the acoustic information of music) as well as information based on experience including a story grammar. The author’s congruence-association model with the working narrative construct (CAM-WN) accommodates the multimodal context of film, while giving music its place. Published in the Strungmann Forum Reports Series.

Keywords:   neurocinematics, filmmusic, working narrative, meaning, perception

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