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Music as a Trace in Film Perception

Output: Contribution to conferencePaper

In her book Upheavals of Thought: the Intelligence of Emotions (2001) Martha Nussbaum refers to (classical) music to describe the structure of emotions. She mentions the difference between music as an expression of emotion and music that evokes emotions within the listener.

This lecture takes the listener’s perspective and focuses on two aspects of music in film: the pre-reflective embodied way of listening to music in film and the way music functions as a trace in film.

Taking a phenomenogical (acoumenological) approach to music, inspired by Joseph Smith’s acoumenology (1979) that is itself based on the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, I introduce some key concepts such as pre-reflective embodied listening, inner time consciousness and passive synthesis. This enables me to describe and analyze how meaning and emotion can be evoked through music.

Through the use of Mozart's music in A Man Escaped (1956) by Bresson I introduce Husserl’s notion of inner time consciousness (Zahavi 2010, Smith 1979, Campan 1999) in the perception of film as a time composition.

By ‘concatenating’ different experiences through music and its characteristic ability to evoke or express emotions, the transmission of the rich and multi-layered inner world of a character is enabled without further explanation by means of words or images.

All the aforementioned will be elaborated on and explained via Villa Amalia (2009) by Benoit Jacquot with music by Bruno Coulais as case study.
Original languageEnglish
StatePublished - 11-May-2015


  • H700-audiovisual-art-film - film music, film studies, Bruno Coulais, Husserl, phenomenological approach of film music

ID: 15558296