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May 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Neil William Lerner <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 21 May 1994 12:51:21 -0400
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Some unmentioned uses of jazz:
        -Louis Gruenberg's score for <The Fight for Life> (Lorentz, 1940), has
        some interesting jazz materials in it; his compositional output was
        marked by his early ventures into jazz/"classical' fusions (at about
        the same time that Copland and Gershwin were getting much more
        attention for the same thing). This score raises some interesting
        questions regarding diegetic/non-diegetic questions.
        -While Copland got a lot of attention in the first part of his
        career for borrowing jazz harmonies in his concert hall music,
        I can't think of any of his film scores that do the same.
        -Virgil Thomson has what may be the first use of jazz in a
        documentary score in <The Plow That Broke the Plains> (Lorentz,
        1936). (At least one section, "Blues," contains some idiomatic
        jazz harmonies and instrumentation, if not any improvisational
        moments which would actually define it as jazz.) The music appears
        to become diegetic in origin by the end of the sequence, but the first
        chunk of the section I have in mind has non-diegetic jazz.
I'm writing a dissertation on film music in three U. S. Government
documentaries (<Plow>, <The Fight for Life>, and <The Cummington Story>
(Copland, 1945), and would be happy to share more if you're interested.
Neil Lerner
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