Friday Film (71)

catteblackFor Black Catte

— If you think I’m good, just wait till you’ve read her! 

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When I was teaching my film music classes — all those years ago! — part of the course was organised in terms of the use and creative re-use of certain specific musical and musico-dramatic techniques. Entire sessions, in fact, would be spent exploring a series of applications and extensions of, say, the ‘leitmotif’ principle, or the instinctively understood difference between ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’ music (‘diegetic’ and ‘non-diegetic’ in the affected language of ‘film studies’). Week after week, I would bring with me several boxes of cued-up videotapes (yes, this really was the 1990s…), and we would work through them in some kind of order that reflected whatever questions and reactions came from the class members…

What I always found particularly gratifying was the way the students would soon begin to supply (and, in a few cases, to compose) further examples along the lines of those we examined. In one session, for example, a class member pointed out to me that the Gerry Rafferty song used in the film Reservoir Dogs (1992) is manifestly intrinsic (i.e. part of the depicted action) when it begins, but is treated in a way that pays no regard to its established intrinsic identity (and source!) once it is no longer required — thereby abandoning its ‘intrinsic’ status and taking on a fundamental characteristic of extrinsic music. (The scene itself is somewhat horrific; but if you really want to see what that observant student had noticed, you’ll find the relevant clip here.)

Not every topic brought forth such additional instances from the students, however. In the case of one technique — just the one, if I remember correctly — I knew of only a pair of examples; and that’s how things have stayed: no-one in any iteration of the course ever came up with any more; and to this day I haven’t noticed any others. Let’s use this posting and next week’s to have a gander at what this apparently seldom-used technique is: perhaps you will be able to let us all know of another example — or more than one! — which we can go through afterwards.

Here’s the first of my two examples. We can discuss it once every reader has watched the clip and has the scene fresh in their mind… Continue reading