Callaway Centre Research Seminar | Julie Brown

Event details


Date and time

  • Tuesday 2 April 2019 | 5pm

Event type

  • On Campus


  • Community
  • Anyone who likes music
  • Researchers

Event Fee

  • Free


  • No bookings required

Callaway Centre Research Seminar Series

The Conservatorium of Music is a vibrant centre for research in music and music education. A thriving community of scholars is engaged in exploring the frontiers of knowledge, working on a wide range of research projects with diverse outputs.

Our free weekly seminar series showcases presenters from within UWA and from the wider community.

Julie Brown (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Multiplying Musicians, Singing Note Heads, Mysterious Gramophones: The “Trickality” of Listening in Early Musical Trick Films

Early cinema generated a small but distinct body of music-themed “trick films” featuring imaginative visualizations of music, sound and listening. Exponents of the “trick film” genre such as Georges Méliès and Segundo de Chomón clearly saw the potential for moving pictures to facilitate both visual and audio-visual tricks, notwithstanding the medium’s material silence. For Shiela J. Nayar, the prominent visualization of music and voices in early cinema points to an oral episteme of visual story-telling, the norms of which weighed heavily on ‘celluloid story-telling’. While this may be true, I argue in this paper that the ubiquity of musical and vocal themes in early films equally reflects film-makers’ intrigue not only with the close aesthetic relationship between music and image, but also with the creative and comic potential of the new technological media –visually present but silent, or sonically present but without visual source. With “silent” scenarios involving new audio technologies, there was a double incongruity, double the possibility for play ¬– and perhaps, double the pleasure.

By considering a number of early trick films that engage with what we might call the mysterious properties of music and sound – visual conceptions of music’s ontology, music’s almost magical power to move its listeners, and the marvels and problems associated with new audio technologies – this paper draws on André Gaudreault’s concept of ‘trickality’ to argue that these films encourage us to engage with the ‘trickality’ of listening with images.

Free entry - no booking required 

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