Beyond Narrative: A Cross-Modal Approach to Soundtrack Composition
This research project addresses the problem of scoring non-narrative film work. Deprived of a narrative content to follow, the composer faces the fundamental problem of deciding what other elements should be considered for establishing a meaningful relationship between the screened events and the music soundtrack. In order to mitigate the problem, this research project investigates the possibility of applying cross-modal principles to soundtrack composition, and systematically exploits the human ability to experience or interpret the information channeled through one sense modality in terms of another. After the Introduction which explains the research aims and methods, the thesis is structured into subsequent chapters. Chapter two considers cross-modal relationships in music and other expressive arts along with a brief consideration of Reception Theory and its relation to my work. Chapter three provides a set of four case studies of contemporary compositional approaches to non-narrative film. Chapter four demonstrates a new and systematic approach to soundtrack composition through a specially devised Table of Audio-Visual Correspondences, mapping parameters from one domain to another. This method is then applied in Chapter five in relation to a portfolio of original composed soundtracks. A detailed analysis is provided of each piece and the application of crossmodal logic to the scoring of non-narrative video is discussed and evaluated. Finally, Chapter six offers conclusions, recommendations, and outlines the scope for further research. An explanation is given of how work on this thesis has affected my own practice and compositional voice. A suggestion is also provided on how this thesis can benefit the wider film music academic and practitioner community.