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Editorial: Music and sound design in contemporary audiovisual productions

Grégoire Tosser et Chloé Huvet
septembre 2022


1In memory of Danijela Kulezic-Wilson

2Since the widespread adoption of digital technology, it is striking to note that the sonic boundaries between words, sound effects and the musical score are increasingly porous. This is due to the combined influence of several factors, which the film musicologist Danijela Kulezic-Wilson summed up as follows: “an increasing appetite for subverting the traditional functions of the musical score, the impact of digital technology, the foregrounding of audiovisual sensuousness, and the absorption of different musical practices from the avant-garde to hip-hop and electronic dance music”1.

3Stemming partly from an international and interdisciplinary colloquium organised at the Université d’Évry in December 2019, the creation of a thematic issue in a scientific journal devoted to these questions appeared as crucial in endeavouring to classify the issues and challenges ensuing from this sonic decompartmentalisation, and to understand the renewed relations between dialogue, sound and music, as well as the role of silence. The renewed relations between music and sound effects in the digital era in fact remain a blind spot in film music research in the French language2, although we must of course commend the groundwork laid by Michel Chion and Laurent Jullier in their general-interest works on sound, which were pursued and developed in particular by researchers from the group ELMEC (Étude des langages musico-sonores à l’écran [Study of the languages of music and sound on screen]) in France, as well as those of the Montreal workshop “La création sonore” in Quebec. On another note, in the collaborative issue of La Revue musicale OICRM published in November 20183, while the approach attempted to define the Remote Control aesthetic, the interplay between sound effects, dialogue and music was the nodal point of the various contributions.

4This thematic issue, which is the first to specifically broach the topic in French film musicology, is therefore the opportunity to make a contribution in a bias-free manner in terms of genres and artists discussed (film d’auteur, independent, mainstream). This can be seen through the diversity and wealth of articles compiled, in terms of the media themselves that are studied (fiction and animated film, video games, television series, trailers) and the geographic spheres to which they belong (Canada, US, UK, France, Denmark and Japan), as well as the theoretical, historical, analytical and/or aesthetic tack used by the creators in both monographic and panoramic approaches. We also wished to instill in this issue an interdisciplinary and international footing by welcoming musicologists and researchers in cinematographic studies, female and male composers, as well as multi-country practitioners from the audiovisual sector, who came to help enhance the issue and resonate with the articles from the initial Évry colloquium.

5Lastly, through the field covered by the various contributions, it is also important to underscore new methodological proposals to deal with the increased porosity between music and sound design in contemporary cinema, so as to avoid separating music on the one hand and sound effects on the other when performing analysis, but rather to envisage them interdependently by taking into consideration the ever increasing interweaving of silence, words, sound effects and music as an integrated whole.

6With this issue, we wish to pay tribute to the researcher Danijela Kulezic-Wilson, who passed away on 15 April 2021. Pioneering in the decompartmentalised analysis of interactions between music, voice, sound design and image and the musicality of contemporary cinema, in addition to numerous and extremely stimulating articles demonstrating remarkable analytical finesse and impressive erudition, Danijela Kulezic-Wilson published two monographs that have become major and indispensable contributions to film musicology, The Musicality of Narrative Film (2015) and Sound Design is the New Score: Theory, Aesthetics, and Erotics of the Integrated Soundtrack (2020). She also co-edited with Liz Greene a collaborative work of reference, The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media (2016)4. This thematic issue, fully in line with the inspiring slipstream of her works and her innovative approach, is dedicated to her.


1 Danijela Kulezic-Wilson, Sound Design is the New Score: Theory, Aesthetics, and Erotics of the Integrated Soundtrack, New York, Oxford University Press, 2020, p. 3.

2 In the Anglophone bibliography, the major works of Danijela Kulezic-Wilson and Liz Greene (ed.) should be noted: The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media, London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016; Graeme Harper, Ruth Doughty and Jochen Eisentraut (ed.), Sound and Music in Film and Visual Media: A Critical Overview, London, Continuum, 2009; Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog and John Richardson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013; and James Wierzbicki (ed.), Music, Sound and Filmmakers: Sonic Style in Cinema, New York/Abingdon: Routledge, 2012.

3 See Chloé Huvet (ed.), Revue musicale OICRM, thematic issue Création musicale et sonore dans les blockbusters de Remote Control, vol. 5, no. 2, November 2018, http://revuemusicaleoicrm.org/rmo-vol5-n2/.

4 Danijela Kulezic-Wilson, The Musicality of Narrative Film, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015; Sound Design is the New Score: Theory, Aesthetics, and Erotics of the Integrated Soundtrack, op. cit.; Danijela Kulezic-Wilson and Liz Greene (direction), The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media, op. cit.


Grégoire Tosser et Chloé Huvet, «Editorial: Music and sound design in contemporary audiovisual productions», Filigrane. Musique, esthétique, sciences, société. [En ligne], Musique et design sonore dans les productions audiovisuelles contemporaines, Numéros de la revue, mis à  jour le : 30/09/2022, URL : https://revues.mshparisnord.fr:443/filigrane/index.php?id=1218.


Grégoire TosserChloé Huvet