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Pop Fiction: The Song in Cinema

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Pop Fiction: The Song in Cinema, 9781841500782 (184150078X), Intellect, 2005
Pop Fiction's unique essays individually consider one song within a cinematic context. Unlike previous collected volumes about pop music in film where a generalised approach has been adopted, it offers instead a close examination of these two most pervasive and significant mediums in contemporary culture. The collection introspects, assembling the pop song into various guises and documenting how individuals dissemble the multiple roles that the pop song plays in all and one audiovisual moment. The song as: ghost, role-play, memory trigger, narrator, marketing device, translator, alienator, membership rite, etc.

This book is dedicated to the research staff at the School of Art and Design, the University of Wolverhampton, especially Mathew Cornford without whose support it would not have been possible.

Film music studies has been undergoing what might be thought of as a naissance - the first significant period of fertility - in the past few years. There is, undoubtedly, a case to be made that there was an early flourishing of works at the time of the birth of sound on film, with works such as Leonid Sabaneev’s 1935 Music for the Films and Kurt London’s 1936 Film Music, for example. But those works were not speaking to each other, and thus, to my mind, they did not constitute a field or an object of study. One might also argue that the current blossoming actually begin in the late 80’s and early 90’s, with Unheard Melodies (Gorbman, 1987), Settling the Score (Kalinak, 1992), and Strains of Utopia (Flinn, 1992). And in some ways, that’s clearly true. But it took most of the 1990s for that opening to really take root.

The past few years, however, have heard an explosion of work. Suddenly, there are books like Martin Marks Music and the Silent Film, anthologies like Soundtrack Available and Music and the Cinema, articles in film and music journals, and conference panels and even entire conferences. And what that means, of course, is that as a community of scholars we can begin asking much more interesting, detailed questions. That’s where this present volume comes in.

Unlike any other collection, all of the essays here focus on a single song and its place in a single film. Perhaps this sounds like an obvious approach. But in fact, most work on film music (with a few significant exceptions) has accepted the received notion that pre-existing songs do not play significant roles in the film that houses them. Pop Fiction does away with that notion once and for all. In all 12 essays, these authors make compelling cases that the films in question would be markedly different were it not for the song they discuss.
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