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Palgrave Macmillan

When Music Takes Over in Film

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2023

You have full access to this open access Book


  • Combines and updates several of the most recent key theoretical approaches and discourses in film music research
  • Extensive coverage of the topic of 'musical moments' in global cinemas
  • Will appeal to both film scholars and musicologists
  • This book is open access, with support of the Austrian Science Fund, which means that you have free and unlimited access

Part of the book series: Palgrave Studies in Audio-Visual Culture (PSAVC)

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Table of contents (12 chapters)

  1. What The Musical Moment Can Do—Theoretical Approaches


About this book

This open access collection deals with musical moments in film as one of the most pivotal and compelling issues of current film music research. Musical moments as defined by Amy Herzog occur when a musical number inverts the normal relationship between the image track and the soundtrack in a film in such a way that what we see is determined by what we hear. As one potential approach, this definition provokes a variety of perspectives to investigate the disruptive potential of these moments and numbers as a creative device in the production of audiovisual narratives. In this sense, the book responds to a need for an anthology that introduces students as well as scholars of cinema, musicology, media studies and cultural studies more broadly, to recent discourses in film music scholarship. The volume includes contributions by early career researchers as well as by established experts in the fields of musicology, film studies, media studies, and cultural studies, promoting cross-disciplinary collaboration in film music research. 


“This book is a significant addition to the literature of song in film. The scholars in this collection dig deep into musical moments when affect overwhelms the image, revealing new insights into what happens when music is unconstrained by narrative, emotionally unleashed, and powerfully disruptive. Attuned to the ontological, ideological, affective, and political dimensions of such moments, the scholars in this collection bring fresh theoretical perspectives, as well as an international scope and interdisciplinary focus. The introduction crystallizes the core issues involved in the performance of song in film with clarity and vision. Taken collectively, the scholars here offer a thought-provoking revision, a brilliant read on what we thought we knew.” 

—   Kathryn Kalinak, Professor, Rhode Island College, USA

“The editors of this inspiring collection speak of the musical moments that are its focus as offering ‘a kaleidoscope of intensities’, and the phrase could equally apply to the collection itself. Taking off from the very special and cherishable feelings evoked when music and song themselves take off from spoken and acted narrative in film, the collection is wonderfully rich in its range, reaching back to silent and early sound film and on to the most recent works. It is globally generous and revealing, equally at home with classic as with contemporary theory, and astonishing in its revelation of the joyous and disturbing things musical moments can do.”

— Richard Dyer, Professor, King’s College London, UK

“This is an eclectic and wide-ranging collection that offers an interesting addition to the field of study.  The disciplinary focus is broad, with writers drawing on post-structuralist theory as well as more historicist frameworks for their thinking, and there are some highly original analyses of hitherto marginalised film texts. I particularly like the way Phil Powrie’s useful model of the ‘crystal song’ is developed across the contributing essays alongside the idea of the ‘musical moment’, since both concepts express the way music can pull together, hold in tension, and intensify a film’s meaning and affective power.  The essays here will appeal to film scholars and music specialists alike.”

— Estella Tincknell, Associate Professor, UWE Bristol, UK

Editors and Affiliations

  • Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, Austria

    Anna K. Windisch

  • University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

    Claus Tieber

  • Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK

    Phil Powrie

About the editors

Anna K. Windisch is a film scholar who gained her PhD in Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria, and completed a postdoctoral position at the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Claus Tieber is Principal Investigator of the research project “Screenwriting musical numbers” in the Department of Theater, Film and Media Studies at the University of Vienna, Austria.

Phil Powrie is Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Surrey, UK, where he was Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences 2010-2015.   

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: When Music Takes Over in Film

  • Editors: Anna K. Windisch, Claus Tieber, Phil Powrie

  • Series Title: Palgrave Studies in Audio-Visual Culture

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Cham

  • eBook Packages: Literature, Cultural and Media Studies, Literature, Cultural and Media Studies (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2023

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-89154-1Published: 03 May 2023

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-89157-2Published: 20 May 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-89155-8Published: 02 May 2023

  • Series ISSN: 2634-6354

  • Series E-ISSN: 2634-6362

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVIII, 255

  • Number of Illustrations: 3 b/w illustrations, 15 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Audio-Visual Culture, Music

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