Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

Outing the Score

Music, Narrative, and Collaborative Process in Little Ashes

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2012), 6, (1), 93–110.

Abstract

The detail of the relationship between artist Salvador Dalí and poet Federico García Lorca has long been the subject of speculation and debate amongst historians and biographers. In the feature film Little Ashes (Morrison, 2009), Dalí and Lorca's feelings are shown deepening into a love affair that the sexually repressed painter tries and fails to consummate. As a substitute, Lorca sleeps with a female friend, with Dalí present as a voyeur. The filmic presentation and interpretation of these sexual relationships raises interesting challenges for the narrative positioning of the score. Taking as a starting point Levinson's theory of the narrative function of nondiegetic music, I explore the agency of the score in relation to the disclosure of emotional truth. Though the music features several oppositional binaries that might be described as an epistemology of the closet, these do not function to present homosexuality as an unstable, deviant, or perverse alternative to the fixed norm of heterosexuality, as is the case in a number of other films made for a mainstream cinema audience. As composer for the film, I am uniquely able to comment on the practical and creative interactions that took place, thus providing an insight into the sound-track both artistically and within its production contexts.

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Mera, Miguel