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Time & Space Interview with Gilbert Gabriel (Part 1 of 5)

As well as a successful musician/composer, you’re a ‘Sound Semiotician’ – can you tell us more about that and your studies?

My doctoral studies in sound semiotics involved the communicative role of speech, music and sound (‘What sound says’). I focused on how both verbal and non-verbal sounds are signified in scenes of ‘altered states’ in cinema. I examined how characters’ subjective perceptions were highlighted in dream states, intoxication, insanity and so on.

A great example is the transition of Lester Burns accompanying soundscape in American Beauty as he fantasizes about his daughter’s teenage best friend (his mid-life crisis) as the soundtrack shifts from normative everyday sounds of a basketball match, big band and audience to his inner fantasy. As a camera moves to a close-up of him sitting alone, his inner soundtrack changes to a drifting tapestry of Thomas Newman’s composition before reverting back to the sounds of the school auditorium.

If you wish to delve deeper I recommend reading my book Altered States: Altered Sounds available from Waterstones or Amazon.

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