Abstract and Papers

Claudia Gorbman


In 1987 I published the book “Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music.” This talk attempts to de-mystify the notion of “unheard” music, which is really never unheard. First, is it possible to determine the extent to which audiences do or do not pay attention to music in film or television? A second perspective is historical: in the 21st century, music is most emphatically heard/noticed in audiovisual media, because of two interrelated factors that have evolved: audience listening/viewing practices, and the music itself.

I hope to engage audience discussion through some video examples including Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945), Birdman (Inarritu, 2014), andPunch-drunk Love (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2002).  The talk will hope to bridge the gap between academic theorists and music practitioners.


Michel Chion


For 20 years, the use of repetitive and/or minimalist film scores has been rising in importance worldwide. Undoubtedly, with the music pieces by Arvo Pärt (in particular since “The Thin Red Line,” 1999, by Terrence Malick, and, henceforth, in an increasing number of movies of different origin and kind, such as the recent “Foxcatcher,” 2014, by Bennet Miller, “Mia Madre” by Nanni Moretti, and “Félicité,” 2016, by Alan Gomis). The same phenomenon is relevant for the music of Philip Glass, but also others. In these movies, the scores we are talking about, be they composed for these very movies or “borrowed” from existing pieces of music, are often opposed to other more local and national scores, and seem to represent, with respect to the latter, the universality of human emotion, beyond epochs, countries, and traditions. The universality which the silent cinema often aimed to embody, especially towards the end of the 20s.

It is with sympathy, without judgement and without simplifying, in particular based on the example of the beautiful movie by Alain Gomis, “Félicité,” where the action takes place in the Democratic Republic of Congo and which depicts an African female singer, that we will examine the utopia of universal music, such as it has been suggested, in terms of image, by the cinema, and will outline the history (linked especially to post-colonial globalisation) of what would amount to a music “beyond the history,” as it has been invented by the cinema.


Further information coming soon.