This chapter lays out a series of conventions toward pitch design that both constrain musical meaning making in film and enable its unique effects. The chapter begins by examining the idiom of late Romanticism in European art music and the ways in which film music conforms to and differs from that model. This exploration is followed by a discussion of three vital aspects of American cinematic tonality: subordination, immediacy, and referentiality. Examples are drawn from an expansive set of filmmaking eras and styles; these range from the early days of the Sound Era to far more contemporary sounds. Beginning in this chapter, the beginnings of an interpretive methodology are constructed, recruiting from approaches as diverse as leitmotivic, atonal, Schenkerian, and audiovisual styles of analysis.
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