When the Music Takes Over: Musical Numbers in Film and Television

Call for papers
8-10 March 2018
University of Salzburg, Austria
Proposal Deadline: 30 April 2017

Keynote Speakers:
Amy Herzog (Queens College, New York)
Richard Dyer (King’s College, London)

Musical numbers have served as constitutive elements of cinema since its early days in the so-called silent period. From the musical moments in silent films emerged the film musical as a specific genre. Musical numbers remain central components beyond generic categories and have succeeded from early sound film musicals to recent TV shows.

In this conference we want to focus on “musical moments” in fictional film and television. Musical numbers in fictional films have been analyzed according to their functions and their relation to the narration. Expanding these issues from numbers in (mostly) film musicals, Amy Herzog (2009, 7) defines “musical moments” as scenes or sequences that occur “when music, typically a popular song, inverts the image-sound hierarchy to occupy a dominant position in a filmic work. The movements of the image, and hence the structuring of space and time, are dictated by song”. If musical moments are not subjugated to the filmic narrative, the focus of their scholarly analysis is able to shift from narrative functions and motivations towards issues such as affect, performance, musical and filmic style and structure, visual musicality, configurations of cinematic time and space, gender construction, modes of audience address, reception, fan culture and more broader philosophical questions about the ontology of cinema. Examining “musical moments” can sharpen our view on cinema in general and can stimulate new theoretical and methodological approaches in the field.

This international conference strives to establish a dialogue between researchers from various disciplines in order to develop new directions for the analysis and interpretation of one of the most crucial elements in filmmaking and one of the pivotal issues of film music research. We invite proposals for individual papers, pre-constituted panels and poster presentations that explore the manifold research potentials of musical moments on screen(s).

Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following:
• Musical numbers in silent cinema
• Singing in silent cinema
• Dancing in silent cinema
• Performing gender in musical numbers
• Performing bodies
• (De)constructing star images with music numbers
• Inter- and transmedial aspects of performances in film
• Musical numbers in European cinema
• Non-western traditions (Bollywood, Brazilian musicals etc.)
• Ideological aspects: the utopian potential of musical numbers
• Negotiating different semantic systems: filmic representation of musical form (in musical moments)
• Repetition and difference: musical numbers between affirmation and subversion
• Methodological and theoretical questions (musicological, philosophical, psychological approaches etc.)
• Reception of musical numbers
• Musical numbers and fan culture

The deadline for abstracts is 30 April 2017. Individual abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should include a short biography (max. 250 words). Panel proposals must include four individual abstracts or three abstracts and one respondent as well as an additional paragraph describing the focus of the panel, including a title. The chair should not be one of the panel presenters and if a panel does not include a chair, the conference committee will appoint one.

Submissions and formal inquiries should be made to: aniela.buzatu@sbg.ac.at

For further information, please refer to the conference website: https://musicalmomentssite.wordpress.com/

Notice of acceptance: June 2017

A proceedings publication with a reputable academic publisher in an international, peer-reviewed series is envisaged.

Please note that we accept only in-person, original presentations. Video or Skype presentations are not possible. The conference language is English. We will collect a moderate conference fee to be paid at arrival in order to cover coffee breaks and conference material.