Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema

Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema

Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema

Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and Post-Soviet Cinema


This innovative volume challenges the ways we look at both cinema and cultural history by shifting the focus from the centrality of the visual and the literary toward the recognition of acoustic culture as formative of the Soviet and post-Soviet experience. Leading experts and emerging scholars from film studies, musicology, music theory, history, and cultural studies examine the importance of sound in Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet cinema from a wide range of interdisciplinary perspectives. Addressing the little-known theoretical and artistic experimentation with sound in Soviet cinema, changing practices of voice delivery and translation, and issues of aesthetic ideology and music theory, this book explores the cultural and historical factors that influenced the use of voice, music, and sound on Soviet and post-Soviet screens.


Masha Salazkina

Kira Muratova, one of the most celebrated and original contemporary Russian film auteurs, was asked in a 1995 interview what she had learned from her film-school mentor Sergei Gerasimov, whose filmmaking was so distinct from hers. She answered that he taught her “to listen and to hear, awakening [in her] an interest in and an elation from listening.” in the same interview Muratova identified endless manipulations of accents, modes of delivery, and systems of repetition as distinguishing markers of her personal authorial style. There is little doubt that Muratova is the contemporary Russian director with the most developed sense of hearing; that she is a product of an institutional apparatus with its own complex relationship to the aural dimensions of cinema—which her comment about Gerasimov seems to imply—might well serve as a vector for reconsidering the aural in the larger tradition of the Soviet cinema.

The contributions that make up Sound, Speech, Music in Soviet and PostSoviet Cinema take their cue from this elation of listening and the gift of hearing exemplified by Muratova by bringing together essays addressing different aspects of sound in the context of Soviet and post-Soviet film culture. the collection sees itself as an invitation to “deep listening”: to attuning our ears to the complexity of meanings that emerge if we not only take sound as an equal partner in audiovisual representation but also engage in what Steven Feld has referred to as “acoustemology,” that is, an investigation of the primacy of sound as a modality of knowing and being in the world.

The Sonic Turn

In the course of the past thirty years, a number of scholars in cinema and media studies, the humanities, and the social sciences have been challenging the centrality given to “the visual” in our social and cultural lives by uncovering the often-dominant function of sound in our experience and understanding of the world. in the process, they have raised questions not only about the material culture of sound but also about the curiously muted interest traditionally shown in it, which for so long kept the audible systematically subordinate to the visual in theorizing audiovisual media. the challenge of sound studies, reproducing the dialectic that brought forth visual studies as a reaction to the previous hegemony . . .

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