Click on titles for abstracts and speaker biographies
All dates and times are UK (BST)
23 June 2020
11.30am - 11.35am, Welcome
11.35 am - 1.20pm, Barriers to Inclusion
2pm - 3.45pm, Showcasing Women
24 June 2020
12pm - 1.45pm, Hidden Roles
2.30pm - 4.15pm, Approaches to Scoring
4.30pm - 5.30pm, Closing remarks and networking
Barriers to Inclusion
11:35am - 1.20pm, 23 June
Chair: Tim Summers
‘We need to hear your voices’: Understanding gender inequity in screen music
This year Hildur Guðnadóttir became just the third woman to win an Oscar for Best Original Score. In her acceptance speech she made this plea: ‘To the girls, to the women, to the mothers, to the daughters who hear the music bubbling within, please speak up. We need to hear your voices.’ This paper delves into the
underrepresentation of women in screen music to consider why it exists and persists. The author outlines this global phenomenon, drawing from research conducted for her edited book, Women’s Music for the Screen: Diverse Narratives in Sound: the first to focus exclusively on the work of female identifying screen composers. Data from recent surveys from Canada (Gauthier and Freeman 2018), Australia (Strong and Cannizzo 2017), and the USA (Smith et al. 2018), impart a more nuanced understanding of the key issues and confirm a yawning gap. This paper will begin to describe the nature and extent of women’s exclusion, the reasons why such inequity has been allowed to persist, and its consequences upon women’s careers. The lack of broader diversity in screen music and the ‘epidemic of invisibility’ (Smith 2016; Smith et al. 2018) of female ethnic minorities and non-binary composers will also be addressed, along with the need for further research to understand how people with intersectional attributes are denied access to opportunity. The paper closes on a positive note, outlining recent initiatives targeting female and non-binary composers put in place by the Australian Guild of Screen Composers’ Gender Equity Committee, which the author co-founded and chaired from 2016-2020.
Dr Felicity Wilcox lectures in Music and Sound Design at the University of Technology, Sydney. As a professional composer she has contributed soundtracks to over 60 film and television productions, and many concert works for leading Australian festivals and ensembles. Her scholarly research focuses on music for multimedia and gender in music. Her latest book is the edited collection for Routledge: Women’s Music for the Screen: Diverse Narratives in Sound.
Demystifying the Mystery: An exploration of the structural barriers facing women in the studio.
The film composition industry is dominated by men. This paper aims to give women a voice to share their career experiences and suggest a cause for change. Recently, there has been more attention on the issue of the lack of women in the music industry with movements such as #MeToo and platforms such as shesaid.so and the Alliance for Women Film Composers. Despite this, there has been little to no rise in women composer/engineer employment. Therefore, this study exposes the structural barriers facing women in music, specifically in the acquisition of skills using music technology, a highly influential skill in becoming a sustainable composer/artist.
As a qualitative exploratory interview study, the experience of prominent composers and leading sound engineers today are evaluated, marking this study’s relevance. Combating the engrained image of gender roles in the studio needs to start at the foundational level of gender neutrality in regards to education. Fundamentally, engrained societal expectations lead to the construction of barriers towards women in the studio from factors such as; the influence of family life; women’s internalised perception of themselves in the studio and how much gender becomes a part of their identity as, what is now, a potential ‘selling point’. These are the categories of discussion which ultimately result in fewer female role models for aspiring women in music. To demystify the studio, we must first normalise women as electronic artists, composers and sound engineers.
Kezia Tomsett is a film composer, music artist and writer. She has been researching the gender divide in the music industry since university, where she achieved a first in her dissertation investigating the structural barriers facing women writing for film. She has continued her research post-university, interviewing composers, artists and engineers regarding their career experience to extend her research relevance. She has since become a member of the Alliance for Women Film Composers and has spoken in schools to raise awareness of the barriers facing women in music. Her recently released EP, Glass Eyes, is a fusion of cinematic/electronica.
Awkward Experience and the Queer Showreel
Speaking to Queers working in sound design and sound post production for cinema, we sometimes note how conservative the world of commercial sound is, how there is a subtle but effective conformity endemic to post production houses. This scenario is shared among us; asked for a reel to pitch for a project, you hear nothing back. Then a text, “the role was filled, sorry.” One even heard back, “A lot of nudity on your reel,” from a senior postproduction supervisor from Pinewood Studios (retired).
“DIY is a practice of self-reliance that rejects the idea of a right way to make a sound or
to perform, and abandons the esoteric knowledge of the discipline…”
Dr. Salomé Voegelin in The Political Possibility of Sound
In this short discussion, I will think about how Queer and DIY digital film making gives artists the experience they need to become competent in their role, but renders an awkward showreel that may not lead to mainstream success. So they make their own way, Queer the soundtrack, stretch the ear. Let’s talk about us…
Mike Wyeld is a Lecturer in Sound Design and Post-Production in Film and Television in the School of Creative Arts on BA and MA programmes at the University of Hertfordshire. Mike is a sound artist and film maker and is interested in the methods and processes of creating sound, and in listening. Mike’s sound design work has been heard in galleries around the world, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Art, and Sonar D in Barcelona among many others. He has also been heard as a Sound Designer and Mixer on the BBC and Channel 4 in the UK in addition to Adult Swim in the United States. Mike has written for Harper Collins Publishers, Lawrence and Wishart and MTV.
2pm - 3.45pm
Chair: Julie Brown
Elisabeth Lutyens’s Horror
Composer Elisabeth Lutyens (1906-1983) worked in what she called different musical ‘goldfish bowls’ throughout her career. She wrote music for the stage and concert hall; radio scores for the BBC Features department; incidental music for theatre productions; and over 100 scores for film and television features ranging from small promotion films for petroleum companies in the late 1940s to Hammer and Amicus thrillers in the 1960s. In this paper, I analyse the aesthetics, compositional strategies and collaborations behind Lutyens’s music for her film music of the 1960s, which included scores for Never Take Sweets from a Stranger, Paranoiac, Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, The Skull, The Psychopath, and Theatre of Death. Lutyens perceived her growing reputation in the British film business as a danger to her efforts as a ‘serious’ composer and, while proud of it, sought to distinguish this ‘journalistic’ work from her stage and concert music. She therefore developed working strategies to attach distinct sets of values to her differing types and styles of composition and to pitch her music to specific listener expectations. I will analyse excerpts from her film scores and contextualise genre expectations of the time and Lutyens’s aesthetic strategies, which resemble those of craftsmanship as theorised by Richard Sennett.
I am a Lecturer in Musicology at Liverpool Hope University. I completed my PhD in Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2014 and subsequently held a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the University of Bristol (2015-2018). My research explores techniques, influence and collaboration in British and European twentieth-century music with a particular focus on female composers; articles have appeared in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association (forthcoming Spring 2020), Twentieth Century Music, The Musical Times and in edited books. I am working on a monograph on Elisabeth Lutyens and her husband, conductor Edward Clark’s, work in music.
She Oughta be in Credits: Dana Suesse and Sweet Composition in the Shadow of Gershwin
JAMES DEAVILLE AND ADRIAN MATTE
Most fans of early sound cinema will recognize the song “You Oughta be in Pictures,” but would be hard-pressed to identify its composer, Dana Suesse, once called the “Girl Gershwin.” The convergence of music industry misogyny with the early 1930s neglect of film composers working in jazz meant that the popular song’s creator would remain in the shadows. Suesse ultimately would provide music for only one film, Sweet Surrender of 1935, however an IMDB search of her work reveals a substantial body of motion pictures from the 1930s and 1940s that use her music without credit. Most common are the many uncredited occurrences of “You Oughta be in Pictures,” but the list also includes popular titles like “My Silent Love” and “Ho-Hum.”
The paper will consider Suesse’s sweet jazz aesthetic in light of other Tin Pan Alley women composers (Dorothy Fields, Kay Swift and Ann Ronell) and their uncredited contributions to movies of the 1930s. We will investigate the role of women composers in Tin Pan Alley and film during the period and possible reasons for their exclusion from credits. A closer study of several scores by Suesse herself will help to explain the epithet of the “Girl Gershwin” and what that meant for her career in jazz and composition in general. The paper will be illustrated by audio examples and film clips of Suesse’s work.
Dr. James Deaville teaches Music in the School for Studies in Art and Culture at Carleton University, Ottawa. He edited Music in Television: Channels of Listening (Routledge, 2010) and with Christina Baade co-edited Music and the Broadcast Experience: Performance, Production, and Audiences (Oxford, 2016). He has published articles on music and sound in film trailers in Music, Sound and the Moving Image (2014) and in the Journal of Fandom Studies (2016), and is author of the essay “Trailer or Leader? The Role of Music and Sound in Cinematic Previews” in the Routledge Companion to Screen Music and Sound (2017). He is currently publishing the article “The Trailer Ear” in The Oxford Handbook of Cinematic Listening, edited by Carlo
Cenciarelli. He is co-editing with Ron Rodman and Siu-Lan Tan the Oxford Handbook of Music and Advertising, in which he has contributed a chapter on film promos.
Adrian Matte is a second-year MA student in the Music and Culture program at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. His research examines issues of race, gender, and radical politics in films scored by the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Adrian received his B.Mus in theory and analysis at McGill University in 1996, and has extensive experience as a performer, producer, and educator.
“Girls” Hammering the Ivories: Women Composers in the Silent Cinema
KENDRA PRESTON LEONARD
The traditional narrative accorded to women composers in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century suggests that professional success was rare and limited to elite women, and that women were also limited by conventions regarding music and femininity and produced music only in certain acceptable genres, such as songs or character pieces. However, research into the careers of women musicians in the silent cinema upends this narrative of limited attainment, revealing that women from all classes were recognized as successful and effective composers and arrangers. While more male composers are represented in the published repertoire for silent film, women also contributed to the repertoire. I argue that women’s music for the silent cinema served to suggest, shape, and help define the musical tastes of the time; to educate listeners; and to show how music could serve as a creative, narrative, and interpretative force in the cinema.
Kendra Preston Leonard is a musicologist and music theorist whose work focuses on women and music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and music and screen history. She is the founder and Executive Director of the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive. Her most recent book is Music for the Kingdom of Shadows: Cinema Accompaniment in the Age of Spiritualism.
4pm - 5pm, 23 June
Chair: Jonathan Godsall
Freya Clarke is a location sound recordist who has worked on micro-budget feature films and short films, broadcast television documentary series, corporate productions and online branded content. She now predominantly works as a First Assistant Sound (boom operator) on major budget motion pictures as part of a five-person sound department.
Leslie Gaston-Bird has been a professional audio engineer since 1991, and is currently a Governor-at-Large for the Audio Engineering Society. She specializes in re-recording for film and television, but also does sound editing, Foley, and music composition. Leslie is author of the book Women in Audio (Routledge, 2019).
Maggie Rodford has worked as music producer, co-ordinator and supervisor on many high-profile films, including Cinderella, The King’s Speech, Atonement, Bridget Jones’s Diary, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. She is managing director of the Air-Edel Group and President of the UK & European Guild of Music Supervisors.
Vanesa Lorena Tate is Audio Director at video game developer King. Her previous work includes time at EA as Franchise Audio Director for Need for Speed, and freelance sound and music composition roles for various other games and films.
12pm - 1.45pm, 24 June
Chair: Rhys Davies
‘Mr Bakaleinikoff suggests…’: Musical creativity, control, and collaboration at 1940s RKO
Drawing on materials from the RKO Radio Pictures Studio Collection at UCLA, this paper considers the role and significance of archival sources in film musicology, focusing in particular on the interface between the documentation of film scoring processes and personnel, and critical analysis of the film itself as a primary text. This relationship is not always straightforward. The differences between the ‘hows’, ‘whys’, and ‘whos’ of film music analysis often highlight tensions between the celebration of film scoring as artistic endeavour and full acknowledgement of its commercial and collaborative roots – a tension further magnified by historical, cultural, and technological distances between contemporary practices and classical Hollywood, as well as film musicology’s overall tendency to focus on prestige films, directors, and Composers(-with-a-capital-C).
This project aims to approach a relatively small subset of films in a more holistic way, focusing on both A and B-list crime films produced in the 1940s by RKO – the smallest of the ‘major’ Hollywood studios, and one whose finances were often in flux. Analysis of RKO’s (incomplete) archive allows the partial reconstruction of scoring practices and personnel in the studio’s music department: a mixture of contract and freelance staff who balanced economics and aesthetics in their approach to planning, writing, arranging, and recording music. Documentation reveals a carefully managed, pragmatic, and generally collaborative working environment where finished scores were the product of many ‘hidden’ musicians and administrative staff, as well as their credited composer. The especially tight budgets of B serials (an important staple of RKO’s output) make them an ideal vehicle to trace the effect of these organisational practices on studio output, and examples for this paper will be drawn from a variety of detective programmes including the escapades of The Saint, The Falcon, and Dick Tracy.
Catherine Haworth is Course Leader for Music at the University of Huddersfield. Her research centres on musical practices of representation and identity construction across various media, with a particular focus on film and television music. Her publications include work on gender, age, and musical creativity; 1940s detective soundtracks; female gothic scores; stardom in the contemporary musical; and music in the James Bond franchise.
Hollywood Films on Shanghai Screens: The Grand Theatre, Lu Yan and “Miss Earphones”
ANTHONY T. MCKENNA
This paper addresses the conference’s theme of hidden figures of screen sound via an investigation of Shanghai’s “Miss earphones”, who provided live translations of Hollywood films in the 1930s and 1940s for a non-English speaking audience, which listened via headsets. Building on studies of translator-performers in the silent era, such as Japan’s benshi, and incorporating theoretical developments in “live” cinema, this paper focusses on translation practices in Shanghai’s Grand Theatre during the immediate post-war years.
American studios were keen to capitalise on the post-war Chinese market, but unsure how to translate its products for a country with dozens of dialects and a largely illiterate population. The Grand Theatre, however, installed an earphone system, which allowed American films to be seen, and understood, by wealthier Shanghainese patrons. Despite resistance from intellectuals and communist factions, the war’s end had reinvigorated Shanghai’s appetite for American cinema, which brought employment opportunities for young bi-lingual Shanghainese women wanting to perform as Miss earphones.
Based on extensive archival research, and an in-depth interview with Lu Yan – the last surviving Miss earphone – this paper argues for the importance of the intangible archive in rethinking screen cultures. Memory, oral history, and the historical imagination, when supported by historical research and apposite theory, can facilitate a reenvisaging of cinema’s circulation and consumption. Shanghai’s Miss earphones played an important role in translating, performing and re-enacting films in a specific cultural context in an under-researched, but not yet lost, era in Chinese cinema history.
A. T. McKenna is a lecturer in Culture, Media and the Creative Industries at King’s College London. He is the author of the forthcoming King Creole: The Death of Rock and Roll in America (2021), Showman of the Screen: Joseph E. Levine and his Revolutions in Film Promotion (2016), co-author of The Man Who Got Carter: Michael Klinger, Independent Film Production and the British Film Industry (2013), and co-editor of Beyond the Bottom Line: The Producer in Film and Television Studies (2014). His other work has been published in various journals and edited collections.
“It Is the Musician behind the Camera Who Is the Soul of the Picture”: Music on the Sets of ‘Silent’ Film
According to a 1923 account by a “film fiddler,” a motion picture’s success depended not on the director or actor, but on musicians behind the camera who “tickled their fiddles patiently in the studio all day long for a union wage and no hope of glory.” From the 1910s through the late 1920s, most motion picture productions
employed small house ensembles, generally little-known performers who had previously worked in vaudeville and theater (including a significant number of women). Off-camera and unheard by eventual movie audiences, mood musicians nonetheless shaped gestural vocabularies, coordinated crowd scenes, and coaxed credible facial expressions and tears. For some on set, music provided an essential aura of performative “liveness,” standing in for earlier aesthetic ideologies during film’s transitional years; for other stars and directors, personal “playlists” of favorite pieces were essential for eliciting emotion.
While the presence of set musicians is widely known, the principles, economics, and functions of this vital practice have received almost no critical attention—most musicological scholarship on early film has focused on post-production elements, particularly musics employed during exhibition. In this paper, I draw on periodicals, memoirs, and archival documents to analyze the use and meaning of set music in the 1910s and 1920s. I ultimately argue that analyzing the work of mood musicians not only sheds light on music’s relationship to emotion, meaning, and gesture in the early twentieth century, but also offers an essential new understanding of the long history of “invisible” musical labor in film.
Erin Brooks is Assistant Professor of Music History at the State University of New York-Potsdam. She holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Washington University in St. Louis and specializes in dramatic musics, transnational reception, sound studies, and interconnections between media such as opera, film, and video games. Additional research areas encompass trauma studies, space and musical mapping, and gender and sexuality. Erin’s publications include studies of the operas of Camille Saint-Saëns, the films of Sarah Bernhardt, and the semiotics of film screenings in classical music venues.
Approaches to Scoring
2:30pm - 4.15pm, 24 June
Chair: Lindsay Carter
‘From a laptop or a cello-seat cushion’: The ‘unheard’ composers of library music
Library music can be understood as music that is neither specifically written for a media production, nor that has a life prior to its audio-visual use. The presence of library music is ubiquitous in screen-media although its fundamental role is frequently overlooked by scholars and viewers alike. This paper will explore the
creative contributions of library music composers within the contemporary television industry, which are widely uncredited and undervalued.
Significant changes to the screen-music industry in the digital era have led to a decentring of the composition process (Miller, 2017), and it is not unusual to find library music written by A-List composers juxtaposed with tracks by semi-professionals working from home studios in a single television episode. The precise ways in which tracks move through the stages of composition and distribution to their eventual broadcast has not been documented. Drawing together a theoretical examination of industry practices with first-hand accounts of the field, this paper will move towards a new model for the production and dissemination of library music
within the television industry. It will demonstrate how composers respond to the demands of library music companies and how their work interfaces with notions of genre, cliché and emulation.
Although library music is often derided as low-quality and unimportant, this paper will argue for a reappraisal of this less visible area of the television industry. The study has broader implications for music in screen-media, particularly concerning the relationship between production practices and audio-visual meaning in the under-
examined area of music in television.
Toby Huelin is a PhD researcher at the University of Leeds, UK. His thesis investigates library music and its use in contemporary television production. Although the use of library music has been central to audio-visual media since the early twentieth century, most scholarly references to library music are by way of exclusion. This project aims to illuminate the role of library music as an integral part of the television industry. Toby’s research is funded by the AHRC through the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH).
Alongside his research, Toby is active as a media composer: his work is regularly broadcast on primetime television and is distributed worldwide by major labels including Universal and BMG. Toby holds a First Class degree in Music from the University of Oxford and a Masters in Composition with Distinction from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Contamination, Spatial Thinking and Embodiment in Hildur Guðnadóttir’s soundtrack for the television miniseries Chernobyl (2019)
The focus of this paper is Icelandic composer Hildur Guðnadóttir’s music for the television miniseries Chernobyl, which blurs the boundaries between music and sound design in an approach that relies heavily on electronically treated concrete sounds recorded at the Lithuanian power plant used in the filming of the series. It is above all Guðnadóttir’s awareness of space and its relationship to embodied experience which stands out in her approach to sound materials. Like the radiation it is intended to depict, the music of Chernobyl gets under your skin whilst also placing the listener’s body in the midst of the action, from the power plant’s disintegrated reactor core to the fallout contaminated countryside surrounding it. The dark griminess of the music combines with grainy retro-soviet-era imagery to impart a powerful sense of embodied involvement. More than this, the sound world of the series seems to possess an uncanny life of its own in passages that resemble the howling or whining of mutant lifeforms, whilst elsewhere the soundtrack intimates that the environment poses a deadly threat or is characterised by the conspicuous absence of life. Even the occasional inclusion of a shimmering synth pad, the use of choral music and Guðnadóttir’s sombre overtone-rich cello have to them a ghostly quality that is less than human. The sound world of Chernobyl is approached in this paper in close readings that draw on Mark Fisher’s concept of the eerie, writing on embodiment and multimodality, and ecocriticism.
John Richardson is Professor of Musicology at the University of Turku. His main research interests include popular music, contemporary classical music and audiovisual research. He is the author of An Eye for Music: Popular Music and the Audiovisual Surreal (Oxford University Press 2011) and Singing Archaeology: Philip Glass’s Akhnaten (Wesleyan University Press 1999). He is additionally co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of New Audiovisual Aesthetics (eds. Richardson, Gorbman & Vernallis 2013), The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media (eds. Vernallis, Herzog and Richardson 2013), Music, Memory, Space (eds. Brusila, Johnson & Richardson; Intellect 2016), and Einstein on the Beach: Opera beyond Drama (eds. Novak & Richardson; Routledge 2019) Richardson is an active songwriter and composer. His first solo album, The Fold, was released on the Svart label in 2017; a second is forthcoming in 2019.
Sounding Terrorism: Authenticity, Representation, and Film Music
In recent decades, terrorist films have become increasingly common in Hollywood. Unlike the exotic, fanciful depictions of the Middle East that abounded in the mid-twentieth century, contemporary Western cinema tends to defer to stereotypes of terror and violence in its depictions of Arabs and Muslims. Music and sound are regularly employed to reinforce these depictions. Instead of the traditional exoticist scoring that was once used to accompany images of the Orient as a place of fantasy and mysticism, acts of terrorism are often accompanied by non-Western instruments (e.g., oud, ney, duduk) or vocals. While the inclusion of more diverse performers and sounds would seem to offer a greater degree of “authenticity,” the contexts in which these sounds are used are problematic. Such timbral signifiers are meant to convey danger to the audience by drawing attention to a terrorist’s religion or ethnicity, thereby establishing associations between their identity and terrorism.
In addition to issues surrounding the messages that terrorist films convey through music, this paper considers a broader problem of representation, namely, how performances by Arab/Middle Eastern musicians are used in Hollywood. Today’s films have certainly “improved” over earlier ones in terms of both physical diversity (insofar as casting) and sonic diversity (insofar as the kinds of instruments and voices included). However—especially given a general absence of positive portrayals of Arabs and Muslims—this creates a perception of verisimilitude and validates the narratives presented in terrorist films, conflating fictionalized Arabness (i.e., terrorism) with actual aspects of Arab music.
Grant Woods is a PhD student in historical musicology at Columbia University, having previously received a Bachelor of Musical Arts from DePauw University. His research broadly explores issues of power and identity in music, with particular focus on exoticism and Orientalism, postcolonialism, and intersections in imperial history between musics of the colonizer and the colonized, especially in the British context.