Chapter 5: Sound

Historical Background (218-220)

The first "talkie" (movie with a soundtrack) was The Jazz Singer (1927)


Sound Effects (225-227)

  • sound editor- gathers/edits all the different sounds necessary for a movie.
  • diegetic- sounds that characters can hear. (ex- a car door slamming, someone speaking, a dog barking etc).
  • non-diegetic - sounds that characters cannot hear. (ex-John Williams's score in Star Wars
  • hearing vs listening and sub-conscious manipulation (225/227)
Music (232-236)

Musicals (237-239)

Spoken Language (241-244)

  • subtext - refers to those implicit meanings behind (or underneath) the language of a film.



Click on the following links to view clips showcasing sound:

Musical counterpoint in film- when the visual image is accompanied by contrasting music.  The effect is meant to be ironic.  Effective uses of musical counterpoint in film lend more poignancy to both image and sound, and ultimately, to the overall scene.  As Giannetti points out, the mood of a scene can be neutralized or even reversed with contrasting music.  Check out the following clips, pulled from masters of counterpoint (Kubrick and Tarantino) and note the effect the music has on the overall scene.  How would these scenes have changed if accompanied by different music?

Examples of musical counterpoint in film:

Dr. Strangelove 

"Stanley Kubrick was a bold--and controversial--innovator in the use of film music.  In Dr. Strangelove, he sardonically juxtaposed Vera Lynn's sentimental World War II tune, "We'll Meet Again," with images of a global nuclear holocaust--a grim reminder that we probably won't meet again after World War III" (Giannetti 236).

YouTube Video



A Clockwork Orange

"In A Clockwork Orange, Kubrick uses music as a distancing device, especially in violent scenes.  Musical incongruity undercuts an otherwise vicious gang fight that takes place to the accompaniment of Rossini's urbane and witty overture to The Thieving Magpie" (Giannetti 236). 

YouTube Video


A Clockwork Orange

YouTube Video


Reservoir Dogs 

YouTube Video


Musical Score and "vertical montage" from Alexander Nevsky 

YouTube Video