Listening to the moving images: new interdisciplinary methodologies for the study of sound and music on Portuguese cinema and media

Coordinator
Manuel Deniz Silva

Grant

FCT
ref:
PTDC/EAT-MMU/100899/2008

Abstract

In recent years, “film music studies” have proved internationally their high hermeneutical potentiality and their contribution to new interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives. Portuguese film music, however, has never been an object of systematic research and remains an unexplored repertoire. The present interest in the conservation, preservation and study of Portuguese sound and moving images, justifies the development of new methodologies for a comprehensive approach of these audiovisual objects, both in scientific and patrimonial institutions.

The purpose of this project is the creation of a scientific network combining researchers from music and cinema studies, but also from social sciences, and as a result, to introduce a new interdisciplinary field in Portuguese academia. The international literature clearly outlines that film music is an object located at the crossroad of different theoretical fields: musicology, film studies, aesthetics, semiotics, performance studies, social anthropology, cultural studies, history of technologies and cultural industries. Also, the new tools and grids of analysis imposed by the specificity of audiovisual objects are an important element of renovation inside each discipline.

Two main research lines will be established. The first one concerns music creation and perception in contemporary cinema and media (television, video, internet). It will promote the development of new methodologies on image and sound analysis, applying the most recent technologies, and produce innovative and critical approaches to Portuguese film music productions. The second main line of research will focus on the history of Portuguese film music, regarding its technical, aesthetical and reception aspects. Film music is a fundamental key to understand the construction of modern national popular culture and in the discussion of such topics as nationalism, folklorism, americanisation, etc.

This project aims not only to cross the disciplinary boundaries within the university, but also to mobilise the energies and knowledge from outside academia. First of all, the research team will develop a close partnership with the major patrimonial institutions, particularly film and music archives, whose collaboration is essential to any historical investigation in this domain. This cooperative work may lead to other common future projects, as the edition of film music archives. Secondly, the discussion about the aesthetical and technical issues will be carried out in association with film and music professionals. Scientific research on artistic productions must combine and confront theoretical questions with the different set of experiences of their agents (directors, producers, sound engineers, sound editors, music supervisors). Some participants and consultants of this project will facilitate this connection by their established position as both academic researchers and professional moviemakers and musicians. Moreover, film and music professionals are important informers on recent history and key actors of the future archives.

The main tool for the establishment of this network will be an website and an online scientific journal. It will be a platform of exchange between researchers from different disciplines, but also between the academic world and the cinema professionals and archival institutions. Articulating contributions of different formats (scientific papers, case studies, interviews, critical reviews), the journal will be published yearly and must obey to a double goal: to respect scientific standards of quality and to remain open to a large public. It will be an instrument for the recognition of the importance of film music both in academic and in more general debates on patrimonial conservation and artistic creation.

Another priority of this project will be the internationalisation of the research programme, associating the development of Portuguese film music studies with the ongoing debates in other countries. Institutional links will be created with leading research teams in the USA, UK and France. The crucial moment of this internationalisation will be the symposium on film music that will be hosted by the INET-MD in 2011. It will reinforce the partnerships with other institutions and will increase considerably the visibility of the team research. Before the symposium a collaborative monthly seminar on Portuguese film music will be organised in the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, where the team researchers, students and professionals will explore and debate new methods of analysis and theoretical lines.




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