Add to Cart. In Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen , French critic and composer Michel Chion reassesses audiovisual media since the revolutionary debut of recorded sound in cinema, shedding crucial light on the mutual relationship between sound and image in audiovisual perception. Chion argues that sound film qualitatively produces a new form of perception: we don't see images and hear sounds as separate channels, we audio-view a trans-sensory whole. Expanding on arguments made in his influential books The Voice in Cinema and Sound in Cinema , Chion provides lapidary insight into the functions and aesthetics of sound in film and television. He considers the effects of such evolving technologies as widescreen, multitrack, and Dolby; the influences of sound on the perception of space and time; and the impact of such contemporary forms of audio-vision as music videos, video art, and commercial television.

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What's new? Site Map. Site Search. Sound Article List. New Books. This is the first English translation of Chion's theoretical work on film sound, making available to a wider readership theories of film-sound perception which have been current in French-speaking countries throughout the s. It reveals the potent influence of Chion's earlier work on film sound, specifically as it impacts on American accounts of film-music, such as the semiotic account of Claudia Gorbman , who is also the translator of the current book.

Chion's account deals with the functions of film sound in all its manifestations, including music. Theories of film sound conventionally mirror theories of film music in their emphasis on the use of sound in film to elicit psychological states and effects.

Chion's theory is no exception: it aspires to provide insights into the perceptual processes underlying "audio-vision" and its effects. The text of Audio-Vision is in two sections. Second , the discursive "beyond sounds and images", delineates an analytical method for scholarly analysis of sound in film. The first section is concerned with elucidating how sound and image transform one another in the filmgoer's perception.

According to Chion, this transformation occurs not because of any "natural harmony" between image and sound, but owing to the "audio-visual contract", wherein, "the two perceptions mutually influence each other The nature of the synchronous sound causes the filmgoer to construe the image differently, and hence the relationship of sound and image in film should not be described simply as "associationist", but as "synergetic"; they enter into a "contract" in the filmgoer's perception.

Chion's work presents a regrettably superficial discussion of how music specifically, as distinct from other sources of sound in film, may impact upon perception of filmic meaning, and how filmic context may impact upon perception and cognition of music. Chion highlights a set of functions that sound may serve via the phenomenon of added value. These functions are termed temporalization, sleight-of hand, unification and punctuation. In its synergetic relationship with image, sound can "temporalize" the image by animation, linearization, or vectorization.

These phenomena are discussed in terms of sound rather than in terms of music. The minimal discussion of the specific role of music appears to exist in a void of music-theoretic insight, and results in a relatively superficial account of the function of music. This lack may be partially attributable to the onerous task of accounting for the perception of sound in film in its entirety, or it may indicate Chion's difficulty in integrating a theory of musical function in the account of added value.

The concept Chion employs to unify claims for the functional interaction of image and sound delineated above is synchresis. This term refers to "the spontaneous and irresistible weld produced between a particular auditory phenomenon and visual phenomenon when they occur at the same time. This stance is adopted by Gorbman in her film-theoretic discussion film-music perception seven years earlier Chion claims that such a phenomenon "is not automatic.

It is also a function of meaning, and is organized according to gestaltist laws and contextual determinations. Play a stream of random audio and visual event, and you will find that certain ones will come together through synchresis and other combinations will not.

This phenomenon of synchresis and marking of accents is compatible with the theories of Lipscomb and Kendall The theory of synchresis is expanded with an account of perceptual "marking" by "points of synchronization".

According to Chion, "A point of synchronization, or synch point, is a salient moment of an audiovisual sequence during which a sound event and a visual event meet in synchrony.

This area of the theory requires detailed elaboration which Chion does not provide if it is to accepted as providing a persuasive account of how this process may function specifically in the different aural modalities. A significant difficulty in previous accounts of film music has been the discussion of audio-visual phenomena, given the lack of sufficiently specific terms to characterise those phenomena.

Chion's account surmounts these difficulties through creation of a terminology and a framework for articulation of analytical accounts of sound in film. Ultimately, this is a frustrating book for the cognitive scientist. Whilst it appears to carry a degree of cognitive-psychological insight, it constitutes in fact a set of introspective rationalizations that are not grounded in an understanding of current cognitive-psychological issues and methods.

Many of addition, Chion's theory is littered with tenuous claims purportedly based in psychoacoustical phenomena; such claims weaken his discussion of, for example, "modes of listening". Concepts such as the "acousmatic" listening situation 71 appear to derive from a commitment to the theories of Pierre Schaeffer rather than to concepts of contemporary psychoacoustics.

Associationist accounts e. Cohen, have tended to dominate cognitive-scientific explorations of film-soundtrack phenomena. Chion's work exemplifies the trend for film-theoretic explanations of film sound to a move away from the associationist tradition in favour of a cogent theory of sound-image interaction, an emergent "synergetic" paradigm. Whilst Chion's Audio-Vision does not provide a thorough examination of the specific nature and function of music in film as distinct from other sources of sound, it is the most coherent and persuasive theory of film-sound perception to date.

Chion, M. Cohen, A. Associationism and musical soundtrack phenomena. Contemporary Music Review, 9 , Gorbman, C. Unheard Melodies: Narrative Film Music.

Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Lipscomb, S. Sources of accent in musical sound and visual motion. Star Wars Sounds. Film Sound History. Movie Sound Articles. Game Audio. Animation Sou nd. Randy Thom Articles. Walter Murch Articles. Foley Artistry. Sci-Fi Film Sound.

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Audio-Vision : Sound on Screen

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