Academic journal article Music, Sound and the Moving Image

Intertextuality as 'Resonance': Masculinity and Anticapitalism in Pet Shop Boys' Score for Battleship Potemkin

Academic journal article Music, Sound and the Moving Image

Intertextuality as 'Resonance': Masculinity and Anticapitalism in Pet Shop Boys' Score for Battleship Potemkin

Article excerpt

In reviewing film music scholarship, Robynn J. Stilwell calls for interdis- ciplinary, 'fresh approaches, and perhaps the simple case study is a good place to start - to build theories from the ground up rather than from the top down' (2002: 48). This essay offers a ground-up approach to developing theoretical concepts, using an interdisciplinary case study to cultivate 'resonance' as a refinement of the overused 'intertextuality'. Rather than imposing universal hierarchies of neologisms, this more organic approach develops indigenous terms. A term is identified within areas of study, drawn into clarity and cultivated for more standardised and specific usage. I refine the use of resonance to mean active, sympathetic amplification and clarification of commonalities - a meaning more descriptive than 'intertextuality' and more appropriate to studies of media, sound, gender and technology.

My study examines Pet Shop Boys' (PSB) only film soundtrack, to Sergei Eisenstein's film Battleship Potemkin, which resonates constructions of counterhegemonic masculinities and anticapitalism. PSB sympathetically amplify, clarify and refine Eisenstein's idealised struggle for social freedom and their idealised sympathy for various masculinities: liberation from tyrannies tsarist and gendered. Analysing resonances ultimately suggests a vision of gendering as a process of collective negotiation and integration rather than mere individual self-expression conflicting with the norm.

Resonance specifies the type of relation occurring - sympathetic amplifi- cation and refinement - and foregrounds the active, relational process of interaction. My case study is also chosen for its unique demonstration of resonance as something done by contemporary, active audiences. The PSB-scored Potemkin does not exist outside of live concert performances. Plans for a DVD were shelved, purportedly due to complications securing the rights to the film. Therefore, outside of concerts, it is only experienced when fans synchronise the PSB soundtrack CD with a DVD of the film, literally resonating the two (Figure l). My case study examines resonance across such audience practices (CD/DVD synching, online commentary), authorship (PSB's music, Eisenstein's films) and discourses (scholars, critics).


Scholarship on interactions between music, sound and moving images commonly relies on the concept of intertextuality (e.g., Halfyard 2010; Heidt 2010). Even the most strictly textual analysis of film and soundtrack is always already intertextual. As Jonathan Gray argues, 'textuality is always intertextuality, and the text is always an interactive, intersective phenomenon' (2006: 69). Texts possess numerous authors, versions, mutations, remixes and afterlives, transcending medium and genre, with dynamic multiplicities of contexts, participants and conditions. A lack of textual stability has been noted as a particular problem of researching silent films (Christie 1993: 8).

However, as a tool for critical media analysis, 'intertextuality' neglects the activity in and quality of such interactions. Intertextuality suggests a state of connection, not the active process of connecting or its intentions (unlike, for example, 'activation of latent ties' in Communication Studies). Moreover, intertextuality is over forty years old - and has been criticised for at least thirty (Orr 2003: 2). Kristeva (1986) coined the term in 1968 to integrate semiotic and literary theories of meaning-making as drawing on awareness of and associations between multiple texts. Even she, however, replaced the term in 1984 with 'transposition' to specify, not merely connections, but transformative effects from connections. Subsequent scholars, primarily working in literary fields, also generated numerous neologisms and typologies of variants (Allen 2000; Bauman 2004; Fairclough 1992; Orr 2003; Worton and Still, 1990). Media scholars adopted the term as well, particularly in the sense of audiences' constructing meaning among multiple texts and contexts (e. …

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