The Music of Fantasy Film: On the Creation, Evolution and Inhabitation of Musical Worlds

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Daniel White

Abstract

Central to the rise in popularity of fantasy film franchises since 2001 is the cinematic depiction of fantasy worlds, in which music’s role is often both narrative and constructive. Music and sound build bridges between filmic episodes and between films and audiences using recognisable musical worlds or languages. These bridges are particularly apparent in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies (2001-2003 and 2012-2014) and the Harry Potter film series (2001-2011), which represent some of the most widely recognised and consumed musical worlds of contemporary cinema. Thematic, harmonic and stylistic analyses of the opening and closing sequences of these films reveal the ways in which music draws viewers into film worlds and returns them to the real world, acting peritextually or as a form of suture. Musical worlds can also be understood by examining the musical accompaniments of filmic homes and home-spaces. Primary home-spaces such as Hogwarts and the Shire can be mapped alongside secondary homes and houses as part of a wider imagined homeland of interrelated musical geographies. Franchise film music can also be understood from the point of view of the consumer. A questionnaire-based survey of soundtrack consumption reveals the varied listening practices of fans and non-fans alike, establishing the various ways in which consumers inhabit fantasy worlds for entertainment, sonic cocooning or increased productivity. Music acts transmedially to follow franchises into video games, orchestral symphonies, musical memorabilia, cinematic concerts, studio tours, theme parks and plays, as well as numerous fan practices, all of which reveal the power of music to build worlds that can be extended and evolved into different forms with different uses. Fantasy acts as a socially committed mirror; an arena in which to play out socio-political anxieties or narratives, and music here provides a way to understand the worlds that people are building their homes in (and building into their homes), and their motivations for doing so.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date31 Dec 2018