Creating a sound world for Dracula (Brorwning, 1931).
Creating a Sound World for Dracula (Browning, 1931) The first use of recorded sound in a feature film was in Don Juan (Crosland 1926). From 1933 onwards, rich film scoring and Foley effects were common in many films. In this context, Dracula (Browning 1931)1 belongs to the transitional period between silent and sound films. Dracula’s original soundtrack consists of only a few sonic elements: dialogue and incidental sound effects. Music is used only at the beginning and in the middle (one diegetic scene) of the film; there is no underscoring. The reasons for the ‘emptiness’ of the soundtrack are partly technological, partly cultural. Browning’s film remains a significant filmic event, despite its noisy original soundtrack and the absence of music. In this study Dracula’s original dialogue has been revoiced, and the film has been scored with new sound design and music, becoming part of a larger, contextual composition. This creative practice-based research explores the potential convergence of film sound and music, and the potential for additional meaning to be created by a multi-channel composition outside the dramatic trajectory of Dracula. This research also offers an analysis of how a multi-channel composition may enhance or change the way an audience reads the film. The audiovisual composition is original, but it uses an existing feature film as an element of the new art piece. Browning’s Dracula gains a new interpretation due to the semantic meaning provided by associations with major cataclysmic events of the 20th century, namely the rise of two totalitarian powers in Europe. The new soundtrack includes samples from the original that are modified, synthesised and re-worked: elements of historical speeches; quotes from Stoker’s Dracula; references to the sounds of the time period (Nazi rallies, warfare, Soviet prosecution), and the original recordings of Transylvania (similar to the geographical location and season Stoker describes in Dracula). 1 Dracula (in italics) will refer to Browning’s film (1931) throughout this paper. The soundtrack composition also includes elements of a new, specially composed Requiem, which share the same sonic and musical expression tools: music language, varying sound pitch, time stretch, granular synthesising, and vocal techniques such as singing, speech, whispering, etc.)
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