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Symphonies of Noise: The Urban Soundscape in Rouben Mamoulian's Applause, City Lights, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Love Me Tonight

Symphonies of Noise: The Urban Soundscape in Rouben Mamoulian's Applause, City Lights, Dr Jekyll... The reputation of Rouben Mamoulian has never quite overcome Andrew Sarris's description of him as ‘an innovator who ran out of innovations’. Yet it is the inventiveness of Mamoulian's filmmaking that constitutes the consistency of his art. In his direction of the play Porgy by Dorothy and DuBose Heywood (1927), a dramatisation of DuBose Hayward's 1925 novel Porgy (the play and novel became the basis for George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess, 1935, which he also directed), Mamoulian devised a ‘Symphony of Noises’, a constructed soundtrack of natural sounds used to create the atmosphere of Catfish Row in Charleston. The idea was carried over into Mamoulian's filmmaking; his first four films were a backstage melodrama Applause (1929), gangster movie, City Streets (1930), horror film, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1932) and musical, Love Me Tonight (1932). In all of these four very different films, Mamoulian created variations of the Symphony of Noises, using noise on the soundtrack either to enhance the emotions of the characters, or to reveal their inner state, or act as a significant counterpart to their experience. Mamoulian's radical use of sound, both mechanised and human, to reveal deeper layers of story and character is the consistent element in his art. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The New Soundtrack Edinburgh University Press

Symphonies of Noise: The Urban Soundscape in Rouben Mamoulian's Applause, City Lights, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Love Me Tonight

The New Soundtrack , Volume 8 (2): 11 – Sep 1, 2018

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
2042-8855
eISSN
2042-8863
DOI
10.3366/sound.2018.0123
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The reputation of Rouben Mamoulian has never quite overcome Andrew Sarris's description of him as ‘an innovator who ran out of innovations’. Yet it is the inventiveness of Mamoulian's filmmaking that constitutes the consistency of his art. In his direction of the play Porgy by Dorothy and DuBose Heywood (1927), a dramatisation of DuBose Hayward's 1925 novel Porgy (the play and novel became the basis for George Gershwin's opera Porgy and Bess, 1935, which he also directed), Mamoulian devised a ‘Symphony of Noises’, a constructed soundtrack of natural sounds used to create the atmosphere of Catfish Row in Charleston. The idea was carried over into Mamoulian's filmmaking; his first four films were a backstage melodrama Applause (1929), gangster movie, City Streets (1930), horror film, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1932) and musical, Love Me Tonight (1932). In all of these four very different films, Mamoulian created variations of the Symphony of Noises, using noise on the soundtrack either to enhance the emotions of the characters, or to reveal their inner state, or act as a significant counterpart to their experience. Mamoulian's radical use of sound, both mechanised and human, to reveal deeper layers of story and character is the consistent element in his art.

Journal

The New SoundtrackEdinburgh University Press

Published: Sep 1, 2018

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