Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

Musical Cachet in New Queer Cinema

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2014), 8, (1), 25–56.

Abstract

Recent scholarship has looked closely at the role of music supervision in creating soundtracks for motion pictures. Independent niche market cinema, in particular, has moved away from the use of dedicated composers in favour of recognisable licensed music that inexpensively and expediently provides a certain cachet for audiences. This article examines the use of such licensed music in New Queer Cinema, using Gregg Araki's The Living End as an example to illustrate how budget, cachet, and effectiveness are balanced. Cachet indicates how music resonates with an intended audience and represents audience affinities. Effectiveness, or how reactive music is to onscreen action, is often sacrificed when deploying licensed tracks, simply because this music was not scored to picture. Industrial club music popular in Araki's queer Los Angeles circle and used in The Living End sets mood and pacing, but many dramatic traditions and possibilities of underscore are lost. This article defines and triangulates budget, cachet, and effectiveness in order to create a practical model that illustrates how filmmakers reconcile these concerns within the production process.

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Dubowsky, Jack