Frank Lehman’s Paper Film-as-Concert Music and the Formal Implications of ‘Cinematic Listening’

  • By: Thorsten Meyer
  • Date: Thursday, 11 June 2020
  • Time to read: 1 min.

Frank Lehman discusses what it means for film music – subordinated, contingent, ‘unheard’ – to be plucked from its intended context and placed at the forefront of the listener’s attention?

Definitions and examples of film as concert music
Frank Lehman's Paper Film-as-Concert Music and the Formal Implications of ‘Cinematic Listening’ 2

The tradition of excerpting and arranging movie scores for the concert hall poses this question sharply. While scholarship on ‘cinematic listening’ has picked up in recent years, the specifically music-theoretical issues raised by this repertoire have been largely unaddressed. In this article, Frank argues that film-as-concert music presents hearing ‘cinematically’ as a valid alternative to structural modes of listening, a form of hearing that subverts both naive formalism and reflexive anti-formalism. Following a discussion of theoretical and interpretative priorities for analyzing film-as-concert music, he begins an investigation of a subset of the film-as-concert corpus: stand-alone scherzi originating from action set pieces. More than any other type of underscore, action cues answer to dramatic, editorial, and visual imperatives rather than to ‘absolute’ logic. 

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