Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

Composing Prototypical South Africans and Re-Sounding Buried Histories

Marked and Unmarked Instruments, and Musical Hierarchies in Proteus (2003)

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2016), 10, (1), 53–76.

Abstract

This article uses the 2003 Canadian-South African co-production Proteus to draw together a number of strands in film musicology: a consideration of music production processes, the use of indigenous musics, and the intersections of sexuality and ethnicity in musical representation. I take the film, set on Robben Island in the eighteenth century, and explore the ways its hybrid score performs a symbolic enactment of the issues raised by the film as whole: Western appropriation of indigenous knowledge, the uncovering of buried histories of interracial same-sex relationships, and the construction of new national myths. I look at the ethical implications of the film score’s transnational cross-cultural music production processes; using interviews I conducted with the film’s composers, I consider how ‘raw’ musical material from South Africa was configured in the representation of the film’s proto-South Africans. I then examine how evidence of a neocolonial approach in the production of the score is undercut by the music itself. I argue that indigenous music is sounded in the film with the capacity to narrate affectively rather than merely to supply local colour or to patrol racial categories, and ultimately provides a compelling example of a score that eschews colonial forms of knowledge.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Arseneault, Jesse (2013) ‘Queer desire and the men of the nation: reading race, masculinity, and South African national identity in John Greyson’s Proteus ’, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, 14 (1), pp.37–58. Queer desire and the men of the nation: reading race, masculinity, and South African national identity in John Greyson’s Proteus Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies 14 37 58 Google Scholar

Ben-Asher, Noa (2005) ‘Screening historical sexualities: a roundtable on sodomy, South Africa, and Proteus ’, GLQ, A Journal of Gay & Lesbian Studies, 11 (3), pp.437–455. Screening historical sexualities: a roundtable on sodomy, South Africa, and Proteus GLQ, A Journal of Gay & Lesbian Studies 11 437 455 Google Scholar

Born, Georgina & Hesmondhalgh, David (2000) ‘Introduction: on difference, representation, and appropriation in music’. In: Born, Georgina & Hesmondhalgh, David (ed.). Western music and its others: difference, representation, and appropriation in music. London: University of California Press, pp.3–58. Introduction: on difference, representation, and appropriation in music Western music and its others: difference, representation, and appropriation in music 3 58 Google Scholar

Brown, Royal (1994) Overtones and undertones: reading film music. Los Angeles: University of California Press. Overtones and undertones: reading film music Google Scholar

Bryant, Wanda (2012) ‘Creating the music of the Na’vi in James Cameron’s Avatar: an ethnomusicologist’s role’, Ethnomusicology Review, 17 (1). Available from: http://ethnomusicologyreview.ucla.edu/journal/volume/17/piece/583 (Accessed: 1 December 2015). Google Scholar

Buhler, James (2014) ‘Gender, sexuality and the soundtrack’. In: Neumeyer, David (ed.). The Oxford handbook of film music studies. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.366–382. Gender, sexuality and the soundtrack The Oxford handbook of film music studies 366 382 Google Scholar

Buhler, James & Neumeyer, David (2014) ‘Music and the ontology of the sound film: the classical Hollywood system’. In: Neumeyer, David (ed.). The Oxford handbook of film music studies. New York: Oxford University Press, pp.17–43. Music and the ontology of the sound film: the classical Hollywood system The Oxford handbook of film music studies 17 43 Google Scholar

Burchell, William (1822) Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa, Volume 1. London: Longman. Travels in the Interior of Southern Africa, Volume 1 Google Scholar

Burnand, David & Sarnaker, Benedict (1999) ‘The articulation of national identity through film music’, National Identities, 1 (1), pp.7–13. The articulation of national identity through film music National Identities 1 7 13 Google Scholar

Dubowsky, Jack Curtis (2014) ‘Musical cachet in new queer cinema’, Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 8 (1), pp.25–56. Musical cachet in new queer cinema Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 8 25 56 Google Scholar

Duggan, Lisa (2002) The incredible shrinking public: sexual politics and the decline of democracy. Boston: Beacon Press. The incredible shrinking public: sexual politics and the decline of democracy Google Scholar

Gorbman, Claudia (1987) Unheard melodies: narrative film music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Unheard melodies: narrative film music Google Scholar

Gorbman, Claudia (2000) ‘Scoring the Indian: music in the liberal western’. In: Born, Georgina & Hesmondhalgh, David (ed.). Western music and its others: difference, representation and appropriation in music. London: University of California Press, pp.234–253. Scoring the Indian: music in the liberal western Western music and its others: difference, representation and appropriation in music 234 253 Google Scholar

Gorbman, Claudia (2007) ‘Hearing Thelma & Louise – active reading of the hybrid pop score’. In: Cook, Bernie (ed.). Thelma & Louise live!: the cultural afterlife of an American film. Austin: University of Texas Press, pp.65–90. Hearing Thelma & Louise – active reading of the hybrid pop score Thelma & Louise live!: the cultural afterlife of an American film 65 90 Google Scholar

Hamm, Charles (1989) ‘Graceland revisited’, Popular Music, 8 (3), pp.299–304. Graceland revisited Popular Music 8 299 304 Google Scholar

Hatten, Robert (2004) Interpreting musical gestures, topics, and tropes: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Interpreting musical gestures, topics, and tropes: Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert Google Scholar

Haworth, Catherine (2012) ‘Introduction: gender, sexuality, and the soundtrack’, Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 6 (2), pp.113–135. Introduction: gender, sexuality, and the soundtrack Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 6 113 135 Google Scholar

Hesmondhalgh, David (2000) ‘International times: fusions, exoticism, and antiracism in electronic dance music’. In: Born, Georgina & Hesmondhalgh, David (ed.). Western music and its others. London: University of California Press, pp.280–304. International times: fusions, exoticism, and antiracism in electronic dance music Western music and its others 280 304 Google Scholar

Kassabian, Anahid (2001) Hearing film: tracking identifications in contemporary Hollywood film music. New York & London: Routledge. Hearing film: tracking identifications in contemporary Hollywood film music Google Scholar

Mera, Miguel (2007) Mychael Danna’s The Ice Storm: a film score guide. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. Mychael Danna’s The Ice Storm: a film score guide Google Scholar

Mera, Miguel (2012) ‘Outing the score: music, narrative, and collaborative process in Little Ashes ’, Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, 6 (1), pp.93–110. Outing the score: music, narrative, and collaborative process in Little Ashes Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 6 93 110 Google Scholar

Olwage, Grant (2008) Composing Apartheid: music for and against Apartheid. Johannesburg: Wits University Press. Composing Apartheid: music for and against Apartheid Google Scholar

Ross, Robert (2008) A concise history of South Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. A concise history of South Africa Google Scholar

Rycroft, David (1971) ‘Stylistic evidence in Nguni song’. In: Wachsmann, Klaus (ed.). Essays on music and history in Africa. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, pp.213–241. Stylistic evidence in Nguni song Essays on music and history in Africa 213 241 Google Scholar

Slobin, Mark (2008) Global soundtracks: worlds of film music. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. Global soundtracks: worlds of film music Google Scholar

Stone, Edmund (2013) ‘A conversation with Alex Heffes’. Available from: http://www.thescore.org/posts/a-conversation-with-alex-heffes/ (Accessed: 15 December 2015). Google Scholar

Taylor, Timothy (1995) ‘When we think about music and politics: the case of Kevin Volans’, Perspectives of New Music, 33 (1–2), pp.504–536. When we think about music and politics: the case of Kevin Volans Perspectives of New Music 33 504 536 Google Scholar

Thunberg, Carl (1795) Travels at the Cape of Good Hope, 1772–1775: based on the English edition London, 1793–1795. London: F. & C. Rivington. Travels at the Cape of Good Hope, 1772–1775: based on the English edition London, 1793–1795 Google Scholar

Tracey, Andrew (2005) ‘Indigenous instruments’. In: Lucia, Christine (ed.). The world of South African music: a reader. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, pp.238–244. Indigenous instruments The world of South African music: a reader 238 244 Google Scholar

Vernon, Kathleen & Eisen, Cliff (2006) ‘Contemporary Spanish film music’. In: Mera, Miguel & Burnand, David (ed.), European film music. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp.41–59. Contemporary Spanish film music European film music 41 59 Google Scholar

Worden, Nigel (2007) ‘‘What are we?’: Proteus and the problematising of history’. In: Bickford-Smith, Vivian & Mendelsohn, Richard (ed.). Black and white in colour: African history on screen. Cape Town: Juta, pp.82–96. ‘What are we?’: Proteus and the problematising of history Black and white in colour: African history on screen 82 96 Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Letcher, Christopher