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Pop music and characterisation in narrative film

By Ian Garwood


This thesis discusses the use of pop songs in narrative films, with\ud particular attention paid to their role in characterisation. My\ud argument concerns the potential for pop to retain its specificity as\ud a certain type of music whilst it carries out functions normally\ud attributed to a composed score. Many commentators have assumed\ud that, because a song may be known before it is used in a film, its\ud narrative meanings are "pre-packaged". I combine an appreciation\ud of pop music's propensity to come to a film already 'known' with an\ud attempt to demonstrate how individual narratives ask songs to\ud perform different affective roles. It is my contention that pop\ud music's quality of 'knownness' is fundamental to its narrative\ud affect in films, without, however, pre-determining that affect. I\ud argue my case through close textual analysis, discussing the\ud relationship between real-life pop stars' musical personas and the\ud film characters they are asked to play, as well as offering numerous\ud examples of songs without an on-screen performer becoming\ud involved in processes of filmic narration

Topics: ML, PN1993
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