Situated Listening

Situated Listening : The Sound of Absorption in Classical Cinema

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Screenwriters and film directors have long been fascinated by the challenges of representing the listening experience on screen. While music has played a central role in film narrative since the conception of moving pictures, the representation of music listening has remained a special occurrence. In Situated Listening: The Sound of Absorption in Classical Cinema, author Giorgio Biancorosso argues for a redefinition of the music listener as represented in film. Rather than construct the listener as a reverential concertgoer, music analyst, or gallery dweller, this book instead shows how films offer a new way of thinking about listening as distributed experience, an activity made public and shareable across vast cultural spaces rather than an insular motion. It shows how cinema functions as not only a reservoir of established modes of listening, but also an agent in the development of new listening practices. As Biancorosso argues, many films have perpetuated a long-existing paradox of music as a means of silencing. Consider an aggressive score overlaying battle scenes or a romantic scene conveying unspoken intimacy. In the place of conversational exchange exists a veil of sound in the form of music, and Situated Listening explains why this function influences both the course of interpretation and empathy experienced by film spectators. By focusing on cinematic, physical, and emotional scenery surrounding a character, viewers can recognize aspects of their own lives, developing a deeper empathy for each fictional character through real and shared listening more

Product details

  • Hardback | 264 pages
  • 173 x 241 x 19mm | 522g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 59
  • 0195374711
  • 9780195374711
  • 1,006,862

Review quote

"Biancorosso challenges a long-standing assumption: that music in classical narrative film is necessarily inaudible, or at least inconspicuous. While this supposition has been questioned over the years, Biancorosso goes much further and details music's vital agency, examining its manifold importance for the characters onscreen as well as for spectators in the theater. Even more crucially, he claims that music's very listening-necessity helps make film an ethical instrument. In short, Biancorosso boldly turns the tables and uses music to interrogate film; and after this formidable and stylish book, anyone who doesn't emphasize the 'musicality' of movies does so at their own peril. This is a necessary read, anchored in a virtuoso command of the film repertory and an authoritative grasp of attendant issues, and a deeply pleasurable one."--Arved Ashby, Professor, Ohio State University School of Music, and editor of Popular Music and the New Auteur: Visionary Filmmakers after MTV"Biancorosso's approach to analyzing film music is strikingly original. In a series of close readings of often classic films, he deftly weaves together musicology, the physiology and psychology of perception, philosophy, and art history in examining representations of auditory attention, or rather inattentiveness, in cinema, and how they shape the viewer's response. His book has made me see (and hear) the relation between image and sound in a new way, and I cannot recommend it highly enough."--Malcolm Turvey, Sol Gittleman Professor of Film and Media Studies, Tufts University"Biancorosso is at once a polymath and a fine close reader. His analyses brilliantly nuance our understanding of the ways in which movie audiences and characters do (or do not) attend to film music."--Elizabeth Weis, author of The Silent Scream: Alfred Hitchcock's Sound Trackshow more

About Giorgio Biancorosso

Giorgio Biancorosso is Associate Professor in Music, The University of Hong Kong. His work on the history and theory of listening practices reflects a long-standing interest in musical aesthetics, film music, and the history of global cinema. Biancorosso is also active in Hong Kong as a programmer and more