As a general rule film music scholarship is led by one of three approaches. The first is the study of the commodification of film music. The second involves musical analysis of a given score, exploring the harmonic structures, thematic interwovenness, orchestration, or the oft-quoted use of leitmotifs, for example. A third approach draws its methodologies from film theory, often concerned with the ways in which the score connects to the mise-en-scène.
However, writing on film music often betrays methodological gaps between these approaches, perhaps through an inability to converse confidently in areas outside the scholar's main expertise. However, this is less important than it might at first seem, and I would like to propose a way for film music scholarship to break through this impasse by finding a methodological bridge which can span the gaps between score, film and narrative analyses, through the work of Gilles Deleuze. Deleuze suggested that philosophy might be viewed as a toolkit, a collection of concepts that can be used to solve conceptual problems. He suggests that such problems need not necessarily be philosophical, but rather that his philosophical concepts are designed to be used as part of a creative process intended to solve problems. This positive ontology, which stresses the breaking down of the dualities prevalent in traditional philosophy, makes his work a perfect platform on which to propose a re-framing of film music analysis.
As John Rajchman suggests, Deleuze 'turned philosophy into an inquiry about what we may legitimately infer from such constructions of impressions, replacing the problem of certainty with that of probable belief and the question of interests and contracts with that of the particularities of passions …' (1998: 3) Thus, the various concepts can be employed anew and related to the individual circumstances and challenges present in each score/film relationship. This results in a flexible toolkit that is adaptable to the situation rather than applicable to the generalities of analysis. As such, the possibilities for analysis are limitless and unconstrained in process.
Throughout his life Deleuze was concerned with both music and film. He wrote two important discussions on film, Cinema 1: The Movement Image (1986) and Cinema 2: The Time Image (1989), and in these volumes developed one of the more original film music theories of the twentieth century. His work on music is not as prolific and specific as his work on film, but the subject does run consistently throughout his work. Thus, the application of Deleuzian philosophical concepts to the area of film music is not as far fetched as it might at first seem, and the remainder of this essay will consider what a Deleuzian theory of film music might resemble. In order to do this I will consider particular problems that exist in the analysis of three specific film scores, and suggest how Deleuzian philosophical concepts might be applied. I sought scores that presented analytical challenges to the traditional modalities of film music analysis, and whose relationship to the mise-en-scène and narrative would not be enhanced by simply analysing the musical structure or finding musico-visual concordances. The scores for each of the three films selected – L'Atalante (Jean Vigo, 1934), East of Eden (Elia Kazan, 1955) and Bleu (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993) – present an analytical problem which can only be overcome by employing a methodology which bridges the gap between music and film theories.
Kieslowski's Trois Couleurs: Bleu is the story of the deaths of the composer Patrice de Courcy and his daughter Anna, and the effect that this subsequently has on his wife Julie. It has a score by Zbigniew Preisner that was largely precomposed, with ninety per cent of it realised prior to the shooting of the film. Preisner did not compose through a reaction to the film images, but responded instead to the original screenplay, which was altered greatly by Kieslowski during the shooting. In addition to its pre-composition, another issue makes the score problematic, in that it crosses over to enter the narrative of the film, where it is supposed to be a work by de Courcy, who has left it unfinished at his death. To add a further level...