Elizabeth Titrington Craft
This chapter looks at the musical biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy. George M. Cohan was still alive when the movie about his life was made and his influence is seen on how it depicts aspects of his life to suit his own account of it. But the chapter also explores how the movie is a self-reflexive backstage musical and how its attention to theatrical authenticity served to deflect scrutiny from the lack of veracity in Cohan’s biography. Examples include the changing of details in scenes from the stage musicals George Washington, Jr and I’d Rather Be Right to serve the movie’s hagiographic depiction of Cohan’s life, as memorably played by James Cagney. But on the whole, the chapter reveals that fidelity was the byword in the treatment of Cohan’s musical oeuvre and the staging of musical numbers. James Cagney also took great care to capture Cohan’s renowned, distinctive dancing style; his instructor Johnny Boyle had even performed in Cohan shows and staged dances for Cohan.
This chapter deals with sexuality in the much-maligned film adaptation of Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon, the least popular of the team’s three 1960s film adaptations (My Fair Lady and Camelot are the others). Situating the movie in the sexual revolution and second-wave feminism of the 1960s, the chapter examines the characterization of Elizabeth and her only song, ‘A Million Miles Away Behind the Door,’ as well as her polyandrous marriage to Ben and Pardner. The chapter also reflects on not only how adaptations change the source but—due to changing social conventions and expectations—why they must. In the case of Paint Your Wagon, the film matches Lerner’s depiction of triangular relationships in My Fair Lady and Camelot, deletes Jennifer and Julio, the principal romantic couple of the stage version, omits the Mexican American perspective represented by Julio, adds the new character Pardner, and places Ben Rumson into a polyandrous relationship with Pardner and Elizabeth. Thanks to the shift from the Production Code to the Ratings System in 1968, Paint Your Wagon could portray a more liberal sexual situation than would have been the case over a decade earlier when the stage version appeared, and the screenplay exploits this possibility in a variety of ways, thereby reflecting its time.
In 1991, Nirvana’s Nevermind not only launched grunge and alternative rock into the mainstream but also helped launch the DGC imprint of Geffen Records. Following Nirvana singer/songwriter Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, Nirvana’s recordings, and Cobain’s previously unreleased solo recordings, have continued to be a lucrative asset for Geffen and their corporate parent, Universal. They have regularly released and reissued Nirvana material, often with the promise of new songs and other bonuses. This chapter surveys Geffen/Universal’s strategies in packaging and marketing Nirvana, with a focus on the band’s posthumous releases. Geffen initially followed Cobain’s lead, striking a balance between underground credibility and mainstream promotion. However, Universal has increasingly lost that balance, raising questions about Nirvana’s and Cobain’s long-term marketability. This case study demonstrates the complex negotiation of industrial forces, legal concerns, fan demand, and artistic integrity involved in marketing a paradigm-shifting act.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay discusses the separation between image and sound inaugurated with the introduction of sound recording technology in the late nineteenth century. Two areas are explored in depth: the development of sound-based art maximally divorced from the image and postrecording technology art forms that recombine sound and image in new ways. The latter part of the essay focuses on artistic sound/image relationships inherent in digital media.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay argues that contemporary digital media present forms of space, time, and rhythm that we haven’t seen. These new forms bear some similarities to contemporary experiences like work speedup, multitasking, and just-in-time labor. One can only guess why this is happening and its causes and effects. A Frankfurt School perspective might note that forms of entertainment replicate labor so we can better toil under oppressive conditions. Marshall McLuhan might claim that the digital has infiltrated entertainment, finance, and labor; hence, there’s a homology between them. This essay suggests that both perspectives grasp something: becoming more aware of the patterns of space, time, and rhythm in media and in work speedup might help us to adapt to social change. We might even work to train our forms of attention so that we can handle the shocks of contemporary society with more grace, care, and awareness.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This chapter develops a poetic perspective to analyze the unusual sound, image, and narrational structures of Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006). A poetic perspective examines how a film is made (rather than trying to work out what it means). This chapter examines the decision-making process that has gone into the construction of the film’s complex aural and visual narrative world: specifically, the issue of how shots and scenes are joined in Inland Empire to create a complex ambiguous world of multiple intersecting layers.
Many online video games nowadays feature voice-chat capabilities that enable players to speak with one another through microphones connected to computers and gaming consoles. Players who speak out via voice-chat telegraph ambiguous bodies and often end up participating (willingly or not) in instances of identity assimilation, repression, deception, and revelation. This chapter examines how voice technologies in online games compel players to negotiate practices of domination, masquerade, and passing through acts of speech and silence. Attempts here to put pressure on voice-body relations speak to a broader effort to reassess conventional theories of the voice as a site of authentic and agentic expression. The chapter will conclude by considering the sexual politics of voice-chat in the audibly male-dominated communities of online first-person-shooter games.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay examines a growing number of filmmakers who construct personal sound aesthetics that rework the rules of sound and image relations. This trend has emerged over the past decade, and it finds global filmmakers engaged in a revitalization of the affective powers of film sound in a digitally converged world. Under consideration are issues of sound authorship, acoustic markers of cultural identity, how sound tropes circulate transnationally, and whether the rules governing sound and image are culturally determined.
Acting and singing have often been considered incompatible activities, but most successful operatic performances depend in part on successful acting. Acting in opera is, however, different from acting in spoken drama. Realistic characterization is often difficult to achieve when acting with music, and often the formal gestures of a more rhetorical representation are more appropriate. A more vivid style of acting was initiated with the bel canto opera early in the nineteenth century, and later verismo opera required acting that brought out the unconscious motivation of characters. Wagner, Stanislavski, and Felsenstein all developed a style of acting that reflected the psychology of the character and encouraged ensemble. Modern operatic performance incorporates a variety of styles, but a combination of realism and minimalism may be most effective on stage. Callas’s performance in Act 2 of Tosca and Nicholas Lehnhoff’s production of Parsifal are analyzed.
The business of music and advertising involves finding, licensing, and producing music that enhances the influence of advertising messages. This chapter is a primer on the entire process of producing music for advertising. The process starts with the determination of the advertising text and the consideration of the options and best practices for defining the desired music characteristics. Then it is critical to search for good candidates from sources that range from composing new music to obtaining the rights to pre-existing popular songs. Next comes assembling the production team. This step includes discussion of tools that can measure and provide objective data to assist in the decision. Key music production and licensing terms are explained along with best practices and some case study information. Finally, the process ends with the use of social monitoring tools such as Nielsen social ratings that measure the influence, sentiment, and effectiveness of the advertising message.
Remi Chiu and Dana Gorzelany-Mostak
Millie and Christine McKoy (1851–1912), African American conjoined twins billed as the “Two-Headed Nightingale,” were among the most successful “freak show” performers in the last quarter of the 19th-century. This chapter relies on “freak show” ephemera—such as press articles, (pseudo) biographical and autobiographical pamphlets, and posters and photos—to reconstruct Millie-Christine’s musical act and to examine the troubling process by which the sisters were made into and promoted as a “freak.” With a focus on the sonic elements described by these texts, examined alongside visual and textual narratives, the chapter builds an account of an advertising strategy that traded on the consumers’ prejudiced musical expectations with regard to gender and race, while cultivating new sonic fantasies about the conjoined body.
This chapter situates publications of English glees marketed to women within broader changes in publishing activities in both England and mainland Europe during the long eighteenth century. The glee was originally composed and performed by all-male vocal clubs, but after mixed-gender ensembles began singing glees in public, it came to be heavily marketed to female amateur musicians. Sheet music publications often referred to professional female singers such as Faustina Bordoni, Marianne Müller, Sophie Arnould, and Elizabeth Billington to increase sales. Music was often marketed to women in the form of monthly periodicals, including The Piano-Forte Magazine, and The Lady’s Musical Magazine; or, Monthly Polite Repository of New Vocal Musick by the Principal Composers in Europe. These periodicals were intended to generate steady income while simultaneously representing the newest, most fashionable music. As a novelty, music was occasionally printed on folding fans and playing cards, objects associated with female pastimes. These shifts speak to the gendering of musical media and performance practices in early English capitalism.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics edited by John Richardson, Claudia Gorbman, and Carol Vernallis. This chapter uses textual analysis of the music video “Umbrella,” featuring Rihanna, to demonstrate the intricacies of sound and image synchronization. It argues that music highlights subject positions according to the viewer’s expectations, assessment, and understanding of the displayed subject. Rihanna’s erotic imagery forms a critical point for contemplating the pop artist’s physical responses to music. One central ingredient of most video performances is disclosed by the suggestive positioning of the gendered body, which extends far beyond everyday experience. Such notions are theorized through aspects of hyperembodiment and hypersexuality, wherein the technological constructedness of the body constitutes a prime part of video production. The aesthetics of performance are predicated on the reassemblance of the body audiovisually. Editing, production, and technology shape the images, which are stimulated by musical sound, and ultimately the audiovisual flow in pop videos mediates a range of conventions that say much about our ever-evolving cultural domains.
This article investigates the aesthetic conclusions that the Canadian artists Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller draw from the basic phenomenon of listening—such as the “horizon of simultaneity” of sound and vision—in their own creation of their audio- and video-walks. It describes how their work functions as social experiments in the public sphere. The thesis is that their works “vampirize” sounds and actively assimilate them to natural acoustic tracks and traces, thus becoming affective traps for their pursuers. Cardiff and Miller lead the participants astray in their desire to actually “see” what is “only” to be heard. Thus an uncanny criminology of artificially laid traces is to be predicated on the seductiveness of the disembodied human voice as guiding narrative. Cardiff’s and Miller’s intriguing art form improvises a new way across the ravages of time by inventing new vestiges of the past.
The Afterword, positioned as it is at the rear of the Handbook, presents itself as a study of the conceptualization and application of the notion of virtuality found in the preceding 45 chapters. It does so by discussing four binarisms: reality and world; unreal and real; emic and etic; and utopia and dystopia. Through these four binarisms, the chapters' key themes are assessed and debated and questions of the virtual and digital are discussed as they relate to questions of society and culture change.
“All Those Homes Beyond the Microphone”: Advertising, Domesticity, and Early Country Music Variety Programs in the 1930s
Radio programs called barn dances employed music and friendly address to insert advertising into rural forms of sociality. Rather than merely trying to cultivate goodwill or engage in hard-sell tactics, these variety programs sought to cultivate a mediated friendship that made advertisements helpful suggestions rather than rude interruptions. Barn dance radio was so intertwined with broadcast advertising that early country music during the 1930s can be understood as a subset of the advertising industry rather than the music industry. Although they could not personalize each message, the friendly environment created through music, advertising copy, and on-air patter encouraged listeners to imagine broadcasters as “radio friends,” and thus personalize broadcast messages to themselves.
Alternative Virtuality: Independent Micro Labels Facing the Ideological Challenge of Virtual Music Culture—The Case of Finnish Ektro Records
This chapter examines virtual music culture from the viewpoint of an independent micro label, Ektro Records, based in Finland. Micro labels are small record producers who subscribe to uncompromising aesthetic and countercultural ideologies. These labels have a complex relationship with virtual music culture, which undermines their economic infrastructure and challenges their subversive position as cultural producers. Although the globalization and elimination of intermediaries by virtual media has advantaged micro labels, labels specializing in physical formats such as Ektro Records are affected by declining sales. Furthermore, micro labels have to compete with the free distribution promoted in the virtual music culture at providing alternatives to the music industry and defending artistic autonomy from commodification. However, it is argued that there is still a need for micro labels in the virtual music culture, and their continuing usefulness to micro labels such as Ektro.
The opening decades of the twentieth century saw painters renounce mimetic representation for the formal rigors and spiritual transcendence of visual art divorced from reproduction of the visible world. That they chose to do so in no small measure resulted from a profound shift in aesthetic values: music became the paradigm for visual art. While the concept of visual music gained international currency, this seductive aesthetic model had particular resonance in the United States. Between 1910 and 1930, leaders of the American avant-garde, such as Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Max Weber, experimented with musical ideas to forge a new abstract art. A comparative case study of the music pictures of these painters and the inter-media installations of contemporary artist Jennifer Steinkamp will illuminate the transformation of the modernist ideal of visual music in the postmodern era.
Different issues challenged the screen adaptation of Finian’s Rainbow, which was one of the most successful Broadway musicals of the 1940s but took more than twenty years to be released as a film. Using archival research, this chapter reveals the frustrated early attempts to make Finian’s into an animated film musical, partly blighted by the blacklisting of lyricist E. Y. Harburg in 1951. Ex-Disney animator John Hubley was hired to work on the film and created more than 400 storyboard sketches, designs, and character drafts for the movie. By 1954, ten key songs had been recorded by leading artists such as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong; indeed, in an attempt to make the project as commercial as possible, Sinatra was assigned a part in nearly all the songs. A new prologue was added and changes were made to the story to soften its vigorous political message, but for a mixture of political and financial reasons the production was abruptly closed down; Finian’s Rainbow would not reach the screen until late the following decade.
The problems associated with the “representational” nature of music has been a feature of musicology and Western thought for many years, with authors such as Eduard Hanslick highlighting how music’s “beauty” lies in its formal structure as opposed to containing or purveying any inherent emotionality. In more recent times, academics such as Davies, Moore, and Zak have all elaborated on how recording technology has added to the complex ways in which music and musicians interact with time, place, and space; to a certain extent all popular music can be considered “virtual.” This chapter discusses the creation and reception of the music of Frank Zappa, who purposively employed techniques to philosophically position his output in a virtual dimension. It draws on Zappa’s own vocabulary, in addition to a range of thinkers (including those highlighted here) to Plato, Paul Weiss, and Schopenhauer.