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date: 29 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the growing tendency toward aestheticization of the spoken voice in cinema. It provides a taxonomy of different means of speech aestheticization, including poetic speech; accelerated and decelerated speech; wordy or dialogue-heavy soundtracks; heightened voice and dialogue in literary adaptations; fetishization of the voice; technologically manipulated speech; aesthetically marked speech resulting from distinct physical or psychological attributes; comic timing as musicality in speech; and interaction of voices with environmental sounds or aestheticized non-diegetic sounds. Undoubtedly, this phenomenon is bound up with proliferation of digital technologies, which means that previous inaudible sounds can be perceived with increased clarity and sonic manipulation is accomplished with little effort. Occupying a liminal zone between speech and song, flowing speech in cinema is suspended in the middle stage of what Rick Altman calls “audio dissolve,” where the actor in a musical inflects her speech aesthetically while transitioning into song and dance.

Keywords: speech, song, cinema, voice, aestheticization, audio dissolve, dialogue, soundtrack, digital, fetishization

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