Cinesonic 1

International Conference on Film Scores & Sound Design

Background

The 1st Cinesonic conference was instigated and directed by Philip Brophy as part of his research while lecturing in Media Arts at RMIT University, Melbourne. A 266 pg book was published by the Australian Film TV & Radio School, Sydney. It contains the proceedings from the 1st Cinesonic Conference and is by edited Philip.

Crash © 1996

Credits

Director - Philip Brophy (lecturer in Soundtrack)
Assistant director - Philip Samartzis (lecturer in Sound)
Administration & promotion - Megan Spencer (graduate & MA in Media Arts)
Interpreter - Tetsuro Shimauchi
Original website - Carl Priestly (graduate & MA in Media Arts)
Site technical advice - Ian Haig (lecturer in Video Art and Online Media)
Support - Les Walkling (senior lecturer & course co-ordinator of Media Arts)
Howard Shore event management - Contemporary Music Events (Steven Richardson)
Sponsors/support - Air New Zealand, Gordon Place Apartments, Australian Film TV & Radio School, Mushroom Music Distribution, Australian Film Institute, Real Time magazine, Davidson Audio Services, The International Lounge Bar, Revolver Upstairs
Special thanks - the Cinesonic volunteers

1998

Storey Hall - RMIT University, Melbourne

1999

Cinesonic - The World of Sound in Film - published by AFTRS Publishing, Sydney

Fargo © 1996

Overview

Sound in the cinema is a beautiful mutant. It is visceral, abstract, poetic, material, eventful, spatial, psychological, temporal, narrational. It is greater than the ocular algae that swims within the pictorial frame; it is more expansive than literate imagination allows; and it engulfs us in its audio-visuality.

As the deep oceans of the planet remain unexplored, so does the world of sound in film exist as a deep, moist terrain, submerged by the weight of literary and visual discourse. And just as film theory and cinema studies shudder in crisis as to what to say about the acceleration of cinematic effects over the past twenty years, the soundtrack lies quivering - awaiting our critical exploration of its neglected depths.

Nowhere near enough has been said about sound and music in the cinema. Scarce utterance has been made of the weight of music, the character of voice, the smell of atmospheres, the presence of effects. Nickelodeons, silent projection, live accompaniment, radio production, credit sequences, sound effects editing, post-dubbed voices, folk musics, documentary soundtracks, non-Western and non-European modes of narration - all are embraced by the 1st Cinesonic International Conference on Film Scores & Sound Design.

Ninja Scroll © 1993

Technical

Issues in Film Scores & Sound Design

Howard Shore

The Score to CRASH - Performed Live

Howard Shore conducts the score to David Cronenberg's CRASH live with 14 musicians. The music for CRASH calls for 3 harpists, 1 prepared piano player, 1 percussionist, 3 woodwinds and 6 electric guitars. The score is an assemblage of the cues from the film, configured to a continuous 40 minute piece. The musicians are positioned in a spatial pattern to reconstruct the spacing used for the recording of the score. The film is not screened for this presentation. The focus is on the music and the live spatialization of sound which traditionally would only be experienced via the film soundtrack.

Howard Shore has composed the music for 7 films directed by Cronenberg. CRASH is typified by an economy in the tonal palettes, shifting between two distinct textures: the breathing wind of the clarinets and oboes and the electrified strings resonating in the amplified guitars. Throughout the score, each grouping of instruments assumes the identity of the other, often morphing between the two. The harps effectively embellish both, occupying a strange half-space between the two primary textures. The film contains many memorable moments where the tonal texture appears to be in one guise, only to develop and resolve in the other. This befits the psychological unravelling of the story's central character James (played by James Spader) as it reflects the polysexual paraphilliac drive which defines the collapse and transition of conventional sexual binaries in J.G. Ballard's novel.

Crash © 1996

Carter Burwell

Composing Music for the Films of Joel & Ethan Coen

The relationship between Burwell and Joel & Ethan Coen is rare. Burwell's music - chamelon-like, eclectic, unexpected - perfectly matches the many genre-bending excursions of the Coens' projects. Often working at a meta-textual level, the Coens' films are acutely aware of an audience being conscious of the story-telling manipulations which drive contemporary cinema. To this end, the Coen's use of Burwell's music always seeks ways to side-step conventional methods of 'emotional cueing' an audience with snippets of mood music. Burwell's prime eclecticism lies in a strange mis-matching, whereby his cues at first appear to 'not fit' - but eventually reveal a depth that is rooted in the complex story-telling craft of the Coens' narratives.

Carter Burwell discusses his ongoing collaboration with the Coens, using the Coens' films as illustrations of aesthetic choices in film music and detailing the various changes which occurred through the editing and sound post-production phases. "Barton Fink" will be discussed as an example of collaboration between sound design and score, "The Big Lebowski" for the frustrations and challenges of working with a song score, and "Fargo" as a balance between irony and believability. Excerpts of the films will be augmented by samples of scenes before-and-after music, and examples of score that didn't make it to the final films.

Fargo © 1996

Yasunori Honda

Yasunori Honda's outline of a history of how sound design has developed in the Japanese Anime industry - focusing on three key titles he has done the sound design for: MACROSS, NINJA SCROLL and TENCHI MUYO IN LOVE.

Ninja Scroll © 1993

Sensations of Voice & Speech

Philip Brophy

I SCREAM IN SILENCE: Cinema, Sex & the Sound Of Women Dying
Referenced films: BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL; CARNIVAL OF SOULS; THE EXORCIST; I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE; GEORGIA; NINJA SCROLL; VAMPIRE PRINCESS MIYU; BLUE STEEL; THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE; TWIN PEAKS.

Elisabeth Weis

NARRATIVE FUNCTIONS OF THE ECOUTEUR
Referenced films: Careful, He Might Hear You; Stella Dallas; Addicted to Love; M*A*S*H; Klute; Another Woman; Godfather III; Red; Calendar.

Sarah Kozloff

GENRE TALK
Referenced films: RED RIVER; THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN; MY MAN GODFRY; THE AWFUL TRUTH; THE GODFATHER.

Adrian Martin

THREADS OF VOICE: Three Studies
Referenced films: CARLITO'S WAY; ANTOINE ET COLETTE (Truffaut's episode of LOVE AT TWENTY); CRUISING; WHEN A STRANGER CALLS BACK; THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS.

Excursions in Music and Modernism

David Sanjek

REELING IN THE YEARS: American Vernacular Music & Documentary Film
Referenced films: SAY AMEN SOMEBOY; MISSISSIPPI BLUES; THE SEARCH FOR ROBERT JOHNSON; DEEP BLUES; HIGH LONESOME.

Caryl Flinn

THE LEGACY OF MODERNISM: Film Music, Fassbinder, Kluge, and Political (After)Shock
Referenced films: PACIFIC 231; MOTHER KUSTER'S TRIP TO HEAVEN; LILI MARLENE; THE MARRIAGE OF MARIA BRAUN; POWER OF EMOTION; KUHLE WAMPE; YESTERDAY GIRL; OUR HITLER; BERLIN ALEXANDERPLATZ; CHINESE ROULETTE.

Royal S. Brown

SOUND MUSIC IN THE FILMS OF ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET
Referenced films: PROGRESSIVE SLIDINGS OF PLEASURE; THE MAN WHO LIES; LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD; EDEN & AFTER.

Histories of Song & Sound

Will Straw

ORNAMENT, ENTRANCE & THE THEME SONG
Referenced films - NOTE CREDIT SEQUENCES ONLY: TWELVE ANGRY MEN; BACHELOR IN PARADISE; KISS ME DEADLY; TEACHER'S PET.

Alan Williams

THE RAW AND THE CODED: Sound Conventions and the Transition of the Talkies
Referenced films: THE JAZZ SINGER; QUESTIONS INDISCRETES; THE SINGING FOOL; WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH SEAS; DISRAELI.

Rick Altman

NICKELODEON & POPULAR SONG