John Richardson - An Eye For Music: Popular Music And The Audiovisual Surreal (Oxford University Press, Uk, Paperback)

Publication Date: January 26, 2012

Listening to music is never an isolated process; the music we hear is always inhabited by the voices of previous performances we have heard. Because first listening experiences are today so often accompanied by moving images, this process is now more true - and more complex - than ever, with a dizzying array of audiovisual forms such as music videos, television and film music, computer video games, live performances of popular music, and the ever-increasing proportion of portablemusic players with built-in video screens dominating contemporary listening experiences. In An Eye for Music, author John Richardson deftly navigates key areas of current thought - from music theory to film theory to cultural theory - to explore what it means that experience of music is now cinematic, spatial, and ultimately visual as much as it is auditory. Richardson maps out the terrain of recent audiovisual production over a wide array of styles and practices, and sketches for the first time a set of common structures of feeling that inform how we experience sound andvision. From Philip Glass's cinematic opera La Belle et la B te, to the 'syncing' of Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" with the classic MGM film "The Wizard of Oz," to the use of media players exploited in the marketing campaign of the iPod shuffle, Richardson's arguments are both fascinating andprovocative. He traces, for example, a genealogical line running from Bernard Herrmann's soundtrack to "Psycho," through songs by the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Coolio, and Mary J. Blige. In doing so, he puts a positive spin on contemporary audiovisual culture, showing how it works against distinctions between highbrow and lowbrow forms.


  • Discusses well-known contemporary music groups and films
  • Applies ideas about surrealism to current audiovisual practices
  • Deals with depictions of sex and sexuality in the media

Table of contents:
1. Introduction
2. Navigating the Neosurreal: Background and Premises
3. Neosurrealist Tendencies in Recent Films: Waking Life and Be Kind Rewind
4. Neosurrealist Metamusicals, Camp and Reparation: Yes and The Wayward Cloud
5. Rescoring the Moving Image: La Belle et la Bete, Mashups and (Mis)syncing
6. The Surrealism of Virtual Band Gorillaz: "Clint Eastwood" and "Feel Good Inc."
7. Performing Acoustic Music in the Digital Age, or a Surreal Twist of Fate
8. Concluding Thoughts: Of Liquid Days and Going Gaga

John Richardson is Professor of Musicology at the University of Turku in Finland and author of Singing Archaeology: Philip Glass's Akhnaten (1999).