Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Garner, Ken. “‘Would You Like to Hear Some Music?’: Music In-and-Out-of-Control in the Films of Quentin Tarantino.” In Film Music: Critical Approaches, ed. K. J. Donnelly, 188-205. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001.

There are three primary categories in which Tarantino uses pre-existing music in his films: main themes and underscoring, incidental diegetic music, and diegetic music chosen by characters. While it is tempting to view Tarantino’s use of dated music in his credit themes as distorting filmic conventions of soundtrack and temporal location or as a postmodern smirk, in reality it can function as an authentication of characters’ identity, as audio-visual counterpoint, and as an authorial statement on the film’s tone and mood. Each of Quentin Tarantino’s major films, Reservoir Dogs,Pulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown, features a scene in which a character selects and plays a piece of music. Such scenes differ from other uses of diegetic music in that they foreground the process of music selection, thus granting characters power to control the score and allowing the selection to represent and illustrate characters or situations. Young audiences of Tarantino’s films will empathize with these foregrounded musical situations, witnessing how an act similar to their own private, mood-related engagement with music is projected onto other characters. This empathy also has an impact on record sales: if youth are able recognize the act of private, mood-boosting engagement with music, they are also likely to enjoy the music itself.

Works: Quentin Tarantino (director): soundtrack to Jackie Brown (188-93, 198-201), soundtrack to Reservoir Dogs (188, 191, 193-96, 202), soundtrack to Pulp Fiction (188, 191, 196-201).

Sources: The Delfonics: Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time) (189-91); Dusty Springfield: Son of a Preacher Man (191, 200); Urge Overkill: Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon (191, 200-201); Stealers Wheel: Stuck in the Middle with You (191, 202); Bobby Womack: Across 110th Street (192-93); George Baker Selection: Little Green Bag (193-96); Dick Dale: Misirlou (196-97); Roy Ayers: soundtrack to Coffy (198-99).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Kate Altizer

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