“The Sound of Whedon: the influence of Joss Whedon’s early television series on TV scoring”.

Halfyard, Janet K. (2016) “The Sound of Whedon: the influence of Joss Whedon’s early television series on TV scoring”. In: Sixth biennial Slayage conference on the Whedonverses, July 2016, Kingston University, UK. (Unpublished)

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The innovations Joss Whedon promoted in the musical strategies of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly have had a lasting influence on subsequent scoring strategies, especially in cult TV. Key ideas here are the use of thematic scoring, introduced as a key element of Buffy’s music from season 2 onward; and the use of contrasting idiomatic scoring, heard in Firefly’s use of American folk, Eastern modes and ‘supercultural’ orchestral scoring (Slobin, 2008) for Mal/ Serenity, Inara and the Alliance respectively as a means of defining and delineating areas of narrative space. This, in itself, is an extension of Buffy’s own strategy where the narrative slippage between genres (horror, romantic drama, teen drama) is signalled musically, classic horror tropes contrasting with thematic scoring focusing on the emotional lives of characters, and popular music in the Bronze creating a third musical space. My main example is Supernatural, which closely parallels Buffy’s overall strategy in the use of subtly thematic writing focused on love and loss, particularly associated with Dean’s emotional vulnerability, contrasting with gestural horror scoring and the third space of the Impala and its associated rock music. Furthermore, like Buffy, Supernatural regularly plays genre games involving music, in episodes that never merely imitate Whedon's playful approach to genre (e.g. ‘Hush,’ ‘Once More, with Feeling’), but extend, develop and reinvent ideas of musical playfulness in scores that build on the legacy of Whedon and contribute significantly to furthering the work that Whedon’s composers began in establishing a genuinely televisual rather than filmic approach to music.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
1 March 2016Accepted
Subjects: CAH24 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01 - media, journalism and communications > CAH24-01-05 - media studies
CAH25 - design, and creative and performing arts > CAH25-02 - performing arts > CAH25-02-02 - music
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Design and Media > Royal Birmingham Conservatoire
Depositing User: Steve Halfyard
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2018 17:15
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2022 16:54
URI: https://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/5639

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