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American Music Documentary: Five Case Studies of Cine-Ethnomusicology.


American Music Documentary: Five Case Studies of Cine-Ethnomusicology

Benjamin J. Harbert

Wesleyan University Press


300 pages


Music: Interview


Arguing that filmmaking can be a process of understanding music and that a film can be a way of expressing that understanding, the author examines five music documentary films: Gimme Shelter by Albert and David Maysles, Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman by Jill Godmilow, Ornette: Made in America by Shirley Clarke, Depeche Mode: 101 by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, and Instrument by Jean Cohen and Fugazi. He contends that filmmakers develop and express coaesthetic understandings of music through shooting, editing, and constructing a narrative, analyzing cinematic techniques and offering perspectives through interviews with filmmakers who use their practices to understand music, and showing how making films about musicians can contribute to an ethnomusicological understanding of music. He draws on interviews, music analysis, and stories of production to examine how each film operates as a set of practices that understand music and its relation to social issues like feminism, the free market economy, race, and mass culture. He considers what a critical cinema of music looks like, constraints on the films, and useful cinematic techniques for examining other films for producing new music documentaries. ([umlaut] Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR)

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Title Annotation:Benjamin J. Harbert
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jul 1, 2018
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