Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

A Sheep in Wolf's Corset

Timbral and Vocal Signifiers of Masculinity in The Rocky Horror Picture/Glee Show

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2012), 6, (2), 137–162.

Abstract

Contrary to both its appearance and its audience's reception, The Rocky Horror Picture Show can be seen as presenting a narrative that rein-scribes traditional cultural values of heteronormativity. The Show's songs, the musical dimensions of which have been understudied in much of the discourse on the film, follow broader cultural patterns of 1970s rock music and can therefore be studied with reference to commonplace signifiers of the genre. Drawing from John Shepherd's study of vocal timbre in popular music, and how it functions to preserve male hegemony, the article demonstrates that the progressions of the vocal timbres of Brad and Frank make necessary contributions to the film's Bildungsroman ethos, and that a change in vocal timbre, as occurs in the film's recent incarnation on the television show Glee, requires a concomitant change in its narrative.

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Reale, Steven