Soundtrack Available

Essays on Film and Popular Music

Soundtrack Available

Book Pages: 504 Illustrations: 36 b&w photos Published: December 2001

American Studies, Media Studies > Film, Music > Popular Music

From the silent era to the present day, popular music has been a key component of the film experience. Yet there has been little serious writing on film soundtracks that feature popular music. Soundtrack Available fills this gap, as its contributors provide detailed analyses of individual films as well as historical overviews of genres, styles of music, and approaches to film scoring.
With a cross-cultural emphasis, the contributors focus on movies that use popular songs from a variety of genres, including country, bubble-gum pop, disco, classical, jazz, swing, French cabaret, and showtunes. The films discussed range from silents to musicals, from dramatic and avant-garde films to documentaries in India, France, England, Australia, and the United States. The essays examine both “nondiegetic” music in film—the score playing outside the story space, unheard by the characters, but no less a part of the scene from the perspective of the audience—and “diegetic” music—music incorporated into the shared reality of the story and the audience. They include analyses of music written and performed for films, as well as the now common practice of scoring a film with pre-existing songs. By exploring in detail how musical patterns and structures relate to filmic patterns of narration, character, editing, framing, and mise-en-scene, this volume demonstrates that pop music is a crucial element in the film experience. It also analyzes the life of the soundtrack apart from the film, tracing how popular music circulates and acquires new meanings when it becomes an official soundtrack.

Rick Altman, Priscilla Barlow, Barbara Ching, Kelley Conway, Corey Creekmur, Krin Gabbard, Jonathan Gill, Andrew Killick, Arthur Knight, Adam Knee, Jill Leeper, Neepa Majumdar, Allison McCracken, Murray Pomerance, Paul Ramaeker, Jeff Smith, Pamela Robertson Wojcik, Nabeel Zuberi


"Soundtrack Available marks a welcome addition to the growing literature on popular music in film." — Daniel Goldmark , Notes

"[A]n important intervention in both historical and recent work in film music studies and a benefit to an emerging area of study." — Kyle Barnett , Velvet Light Trap

Soundtrack Available represents a great leap forward in the analysis of film soundtracks. It is a smart, lively book that moves nicely between the detailed analysis of individual cases and broader, theoretical issues. The editors are to be commended for a collection which covers so many historical periods and national cinemas, and for staking out exciting new directions for scholarship. At the same time, this is a compelling, refreshingly jargon-free read for the non-specialist interested in film, music, or media.” — Will Straw, McGill University

“From Bollywood to Hollywood, Wim Wenders to Wong Kar-Wai, popular music permeates movies. Rigorous scholarship has finally begun to catch up with this phenomenon to make sense of its rich and varied cultural meanings. Wocjik’s and Knight’s first-rate collection is muscular, theoretically informed, historically textured, and full of exciting discoveries for all interested in the confluence of pop music, film, and identity.” — Claudia Gorbman, University of Washington


Availability: In stock
Price: $32.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Pamela Robertson Wojcik is Associate Professor of Film, TV, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame and the author of Guilty Pleasures: Feminist Camp from Mae West to Madonna, also published by Duke University Press.

Arthur Knight is Associate Professor of American Studies and English at the College of William and Mary and the author of Dis/Integrating the Musical: African American Musical Performance and American Musical Film, 1927-1959, forthcoming from Duke.

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Illustrations


Overture / Arthur Knight and Pamela Robertson Wojcik

I. Popular vs. “Serious”

Cinema and Popular Song: The Lost Tradition / Rick Altman

Surreal Symphonies: “L’Age d’or and the Discreet Charms of Classical Music / Priscilla Barlow

“The Future’s Not Ours to See”: Song, Singer, and Labryinth in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much / Murray Pomerance

“You Think They Call Us Plastic Now . . . “: The Monkees and Head / Paul B. Ramaeker

II. Singing Stars

Real Men Don’t Sing Ballads: The Radio Crooner in Hollywood, 1929–1933 / Allison McCracken

Flower of the Asphalt: The Chanteuse Realiste in 1930s French Cinema / Kelley Conway

The Embodied Voice: Song Sequences and Stardom in Popular Hindi Cinema / Neepa Majumdar

III. Music as Ethnic Marker

Music as Ethnic Marker in Film: The “Jewish” Case / Andrew P. Killick

Sounding the American Heart: Cultural Politics, Country Music, and Contemporary American Film / Barbara Ching

Crossing Musical Borders: The Soundtrack for Touch of Evil / Jill Leeper

Documented/Documentary Asians: Gurinder Chadha’s I’m British But . . . and the Musical Mediation of Sonic and Visual Identities / Nabeel Zuberi

IV. African American Identities

Class Swings: Music, Race, and Social Mobility in Broken Strings / Adam Knee

Borrowing Black Masculinity: The Role of Johnny Hartman in The Bridges of Madison County / Krin Gabbard

V. Case Study: Porgy and Bess

It Ain’t Necessarily So That It Ain’t Necessarily So: African American Recordings of Porgy and Bess as Film and Cultural Criticism / Arthur Knight

“Hollywood Has Taken On a New Color”: The Yiddish Blackface of Samuel Goldwyn’s Porgy and Bess / Jonathan Gill

VI. Contemporary Compilations

Picturizing American Cinema: Hindi Film Songs and the Last Days of Genre / Corey K. Creekmur

Popular Songs and Comic Allusion in Contemporary Cinema / Jeff Smith

VII. Gender and Technology

The Girl and the Phonograph; or the Vamp and the Machine Revisited / Pamela Robertson Wojcik



Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2797-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2800-1
Publicity material