Lovely Bones: Ambient Music and the Uncanny in Leitmotiv and Underscore

Book chapter


Rietveld, HC (2016). Lovely Bones: Ambient Music and the Uncanny in Leitmotiv and Underscore. in: Albiez, S and Pattie, D (ed.) Brian Eno Oblique Music London Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 105-117
AuthorsRietveld, HC
EditorsAlbiez, S and Pattie, D
Abstract

This chapter explores links between ambient music and cinematic underscore in terms of leitmotiv as well as the uncanny atmosphere that can emerge from understated musical soundscapes. Eno’s interest in cinematic sonic ambience became explicit in his 1978 album Music for Films, which was further developed in the mood music he created for a 1983 documentary on the Apollo space missions and in production work for the 1984 film Dune. Here, though, the main focus will be on Eno’s work for the 2009 film Lovely Bones (set in 1973-75), for which he provided musical direction. This film score includes the 1973 track ‘Babys on Fire’, ‘The Big Ship’ of 1975 and fragments from Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks, as well as other work, extracts of which that can be heard on the 2010 album Small Craft on a Milk Sea. In this way, the chapter will simultaneously be able to make connections across Eno’s oeuvre, to his current output. Eno's music is sufficiently ambivalent for reinterpretation. Existing compositions are employed as leitmotiv in the characterisation of The Lovely Bones. In that context, Eno's often seemingly meandering ambience takes on qualities of tension, duress and anxiety. Through the use of Eno's music in this film, it can be demonstrated here that Eno's music taps into a subconscious realm, the 'uncanny' ('unheimlich', as Freud coined it), which is (to paraphrase de Certeau's 'Walking the City'), neither explicitly memorable nor rational. This study will argue that Eno’s music becomes an underscore, a musical 'atmos', that places the listener in a realm beyond words, beyond the time frame of the 1970s, and within the "inbetween" instead. This subjective space functions in parallel to the realm from which the main character of The Lovely Bones speaks (as a traumatised wandering spirit with unfinished business). Rather than describing a situation, that would provide rational and memorable links to reality (as some of the diegetic tracks do), Eno's music thereby effectively takes the audience into the beyond.

Keywordsscoring film music; ambient music; brian eno
Page range105-117
Year2016
Book titleBrian Eno Oblique Music
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Place of publicationLondon
ISBN9781441129123, 9781441148063
Publication dates
Print11 Aug 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited27 Jan 2017
Web address (URL)http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/brian-eno-9781441148063/
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY 4.0
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