Andreas Elkjær

Andreas Elkjær

Abstract

CVPosted by Andreas Elkjær 19 May, 2010 21:10
Dette er abstractet til det speciale jeg afsluttede min cand.mag. i Film- og Medievidenskab med i 2008.

Abstract Title: One sound says more than a thousand words.

–Proposal of a new analytical model concerning the significance of sound on the audiovisual expression of film, based on theory and interview analysis, synthesis and further development of ideas, notions and theoretical frameworks.

The subject of this thesis is film analysis, and the need of a re-evaluation of sound's artistic significance in films of the last three decades, especially all other sounds than dialogue and music.

Throughout the history of film theory, emphasis has been on the visual and narrative parts of film art. Only since the 1980s theory focusing on film sound has started to emerge, and especially within the last decade the extent of literature combining academic and practice based theory has been expanding. The narrative functions of film music and the human voice have mainly gained attention, leaving behind all other parts of the soundtrack. And throughout the entire field of film theory a framework for sound analysis has remained unseen.

Based on assessment and discussion of relevant theory combined with analysis of interviews with two leading Danish sound designers, a new analytical model concerning the significance of sound in film is proposed. One of the central findings of the thesis is the importance of dynamics in film, which should be understood as multidimensional. Visual and sonic elements combine internally and externally in vertical 'here and now'-relations, but simultaneously these relations form horizontal shapes which for instance can be described as forming 'sine' or 'square waves'. It is these vertical and horizontal shapes that are in focus of the dynamic film analysis.

The model consists of four parts, which are all related to dynamics. The narrative-audio-visual dynamics: how the story, the pictures and the sound combines vertically as well as horizontally. Rhythm and tone: both sound and picture includes rhythms which can be uniform, juxtaposed, and non-rhythmic, in a slow or rapid tempo. The tone of the sound can be analyzed through the notions 'pitch', 'timbre', 'emphasis', 'texture', 'organic vs. mechanic', 'tonality', 'mood', 'distance' and 'spatial colouring'. Audio-internal dynamics: how the layers within the four types of sound (dialogue, atmospheres, effects and music) combine and interact. And finally, density dynamics and space: how the evolving soundtrack shifts between compact and open spaces, determined by the amount of simultaneous layers of sound and their position within the cinematic space.

In order to test the proposed model in function, Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (2000) is ultimately analysed through the four-step model. The analysis shows that the proposed model helps understanding the function and artistic importance of sound in films.

Andreas Elkjær, University of Copenhagen, Film and Media Studies 2008.



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