Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Greig, Donald. “Lo Duca and Dreyer: Baroque Music, Extant Recordings, and Aleatoric Synchrony.” Music and the Moving Image 13 (Summer 2020): 25-61.

Joseph-Marie Lo Duca’s 1952 sonorized version of Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent film La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc has been widely criticized for its alterations to Dreyer’s negatives, but its soundtrack, constructed primarily from recordings of Baroque music, has received considerably less attention. Much of the soundtrack was taken from two commercial LPs that championed the music of Tomaso Albinoni (including the fraudulent Adagio in G Minor). Some inclusions—particularly Alessandro Scarlatti’s Passion According to St. John, the only piece to be recorded exclusively for the film—have a clear resonance with the themes of the film. Others, like the three Bach organ chorale preludes, have a less clear textual motivation. Two apparently improvised organ pieces in Baroque style are also included in the soundtrack. From these recordings, Lo Duca separated out individual movements and rearranged the material to create a nearly continuous soundtrack. Other than a recitative used in the opening scene, Scarlatti’s Passion is only heard in the final fifteen minutes of the film, although there is no consideration for the text of particular movements. Most of the music is not closely related to the action on screen, highlighting common issues with using metrically predictable Baroque music in a film context. Some scenes, however, exhibit a more overt relationship between sound and visuals. For instance, the Agnus Dei chant is used diegetically during a ceremony of Eucharist. While Lo Duca’s methodology gives up control of fine-grained integration of sound and image, it does exemplify the phenomenon of aleatoric synchronization, whereby unanticipated correlations emerge between sound and image due to the ambiguity and “stickiness” of musical signifiers. This is demonstrated by the two scenes containing Albinoni’s Adagio in G Minor (actually composed by Remo Giazotto). Despite the film not being cut to the music, there are many close correspondences between the rhythm of the edit and the rhythm of the music during the courtroom scene. In a later scene in which guards mock Jeanne, the portentous Adagio creates tonal friction with the comedic visual tone, rendering it ironic rather than sympathetic. This aleatoric synchronization challenges the notion that a film’s visuals always outweigh the music and suggests a more complex relationship between the two domains.

Works: Joseph-Marie Lo Duca (compiler): soundtrack to La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (30-42, 43-46); Peter Weir (director): soundtrack to Gallipoli (39)

Sources: Remo Giazotto (composer), Tomaso Albinoni (attributed to): Adagio in G Minor (30-33, 36-42, 43-46); Alessandro Scarlatti: Passion According to St. John (31-32, 43-46); Bach: Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 639 (31-32, 43-46), Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 (31-32, 43-46), O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde gross, BWV 622 (31-32, 43-46); Anonymous (plainchant): Agnus Dei XVI (31, 33, 43-46); Vivaldi: Concerto for Two Violins and Two Cellos in G Major, Op. 4, No. 1, RV 575 (33, 43-46), Concerto in G Major, RV 275 (35, 43-46); Tomaso Albinoni: Sinfonia in G Minor, Op. 2, No. 6 (43-46), Concerto à 5 in D Major, Op. 5, No. 3 (43-46), Concerto for Oboe in B-flat Major, Op. 7, No. 3 (43-46); Francesco Geminiani: Concerto Grosso in G Minor, Op. 3, No. 2 (43-46); Giuseppe Torelli: Concerto à 4 in G Major, Op. 6, No. 1 (43-46); Giovanni Battista Sammartini: Sinfonia in G Major, J-C 39 (43-46)

Index Classifications: 1900s, Film

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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