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Occult Aesthetics: Synchronization in Sound Film (Oxford Music/Media Series) [Paperback]

K.J. Donnelly

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Book Description

16 Jan 2014 Oxford Music/Media Series
In this groundbreaking book, acclaimed film music author Kevin Donnelly offers the first sustained theorization of synchronization in sound film. Donnelly addresses the manner in which the lock of the audio and the visual exerts a perceptible synergy, an aesthetic he dubs occult: a secret and esoteric effect that can dissipate in the face of an awareness of its existence. Drawing upon theories of sound from Sergei Eisenstein to Pierre Schaeffer to Michel Chion, the book investigates points of synchronization as something like repose, providing moments of comfort in a potentially threatening environment that can be fraught with sound and image stimuli. Correspondingly, lack of synchrony between sound and images is characterized as potentially disturbing for the viewer, a discomfort that signals moments of danger. From this perspective, the interplay between the two becomes the central dynamic of audio-visual culture more generally, which, as Donnelly argues, provides a starting point for a new understanding of audio/visual interactions. This fresh approach to the topic is discussed in theoretical and historical terms as well as elaborated through analysis of and reference to a broad selection of films and their soundtracks including, among others, Singin' in the Rain, Saw, Shanghai Express, and Assault on Precinct 13.


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Donnelly's deeply persuasive analysis of the 'occult' nature of audio-visual synchronisation is a major contribution to film sound studies. His sophisticated theorisation deserves a very warm welcome from scholars, students and film enthusiasts interested in both the aural and visual domains. (David Cooper, Chair of Music and Technology and Dean of the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications at the University of Leeds)

Although Donnelly cites examples from dozens of films, his latest book in the long run is about sound-image synchronization of the sort that humans experienceand sometimes puzzle overalmost every day. Fascinating! (James Wierzbicki, University of Sydney)

About the Author

K.J. Donnelly is Reader in Film at the University of Southampton. He is author of British Film Music and Film Musicals (2007), The Spectre of Sound (2005) and Pop Music in British Cinema (2001).

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