The Integrated Soundtrack
By Liz Greene & Danijela Kulezic-Wilson
The recent surge of scholarly activity addressing the habitual separation between audio and visual aspects of film in theory, pedagogy and practice may have alleviated the long-standing underrepresentation of sonic aspects of film in scholarship but it has also elucidated another division within the discipline, that between film sound and film music. While some scholarly conferences and symposia encourage the integration of these two sub-disciplines in every possible way except in name, a number of recent monographs and edited publications about sound and music make it clear that the segregation still persists. One of the reasons for this, of course, is the same one that kept film music scholarship separated from the rest of film discourse for decades, namely the lack of musical education and possibly terminology which would give non-music specialists the confidence to address musical aspects of film. At the same time, a palpable resistance among some film music scholars to include sound in their field of research has exposed surprising signs of territorialism in a field which prides itself in being multidisciplinary.
The fact that boundaries between scoring and sound design in contemporary cinema are becoming increasingly blurred has affected both film music and sound studies by expanding their range of topics and the scope of their analysis beyond those traditionally addressed. The use of musique concrète in sound design, the integration of speech and/or sound effects into film scores as well as musically conceived soundscapes – to mention only some examples of innovative techniques – demand new approaches to the study of the soundtrack which are prepared to consider the increasingly intertwined elements of silence, noise, speech, sound effects and music as an integrated whole.
A boundary-breaking ethos is at the heart of The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music: Integrated Soundtracks which has been conceived with the specific intention of bridging the existing gap between film sound and film music scholarship by bringing together distinguished scholars from both disciplines who are challenging the constraints of their subject areas by thinking about the soundtrack in its totality. This is also emphasized by the title of this anthology which, in comparison to other recent publications that address both sound and music, takes sound design and music as the subjects of its investigation.
Sound design evokes the idea of a ‘holistic’ approach to film and soundtrack and is considered here in that broadest sense from pre-production through production and into post-production. The subtitle ‘integrated soundtrack’, on the other hand, refers for our purposes to practices, theories and histories, that consciously combine sound design and music into the overall concept and design of screen media. And while in some chapters of the anthology the primary focus of investigation leans more towards either sound design or score for the purpose of in-depth discussion, each recognizes the functional interdependence of all sonic elements and that an effective soundtrack is the result of their joint achievement.
This anthology does not attempt to offer a foundational theory for film sound or film music since the groundwork for both disciplines has been firmly laid already. The intention of this volume is rather to move the discussion forward by bringing these two fields together through the idea of an integrated soundtrack. An objective of this book is to look beyond the director as auteur and investigate the critical production of the screen media soundtrack with attention to sound and music personnel considering issues at stake below and above the line, exploring the whole process of producing an integrated soundtrack and outlining the distinct procedures involved in its creation. The collaborative media of filmmaking, animation, game design, and television production are addressed not only in scholarly chapters but also through interviews with key practitioners that include sound recordists, sound designers, composers, orchestrators and music supervisors who honed their skills on films, television programmes, video games, commercials and music videos.
Liz Greene & Danijela Kulezic-Wilson, September 2017
Liz Greene is a Senior Lecturer in Filmmaking at Liverpool John Moores University. She has published articles in The Soundtrack, Music and the Moving Image, The New Soundtrack, and SEQUENCE amongst other journals and anthologies, and continues to work in sound in the film industry.
Danijela Kulezic-Wilson is a Lecturer in the School of Music and Theatre at University College Cork. She is the author of The Musicality of Narrative Film (2015) and has been published in journals such as Music and the Moving Image, The New Soundtrack, Alphaville and Music, Sound and the Moving Image.
The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media is available now.