• Are horror film scores un (der) appreciated? A review of their function, perception and professional recognition

    Author(s):
    GN Martin (see profile)
    Date:
    2023
    Subject(s):
    Horror films, Motion picture music, Academy Awards (Motion pictures)
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    scoring, leitmotif, horror, horror film, film soundtracks, the Oscars, AMPAS
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/dxch-6z80
    Abstract:
    Horror, as a genre, has traditionally suffered from being regarded as less serious or prestigious than are other film genres. There is some evidence that the under-appreciation may also extend to horror film scores.This paper reviews the nature and purpose of horror film scores in the context of the function of film scores generally, and evaluates whether one specific metric of professional recognition -the AMPAS award for best original score (Oscar)- reflects the anecdotal lack of recognition for horror. In terms of Oscar recognition, 664 films not categorised as musicals have been nominated for an Oscar for best score since 1935 and 1.65% of these have been horror films. Scores from two horror films have won an Oscar. The genre most likely to win an award is drama with 54 wins. Apart from documentary and biopic, which have received no award, the genres least likely to win are thriller, family, crime and horror. The article discusses these findings in the context of composers’ views of horror film, how music is used as a device to support or amplify cinematic objectives, and whether there are features of horror film and horror film scores which distinguish them from other genres. Three possible explanations for the attitudes towards horror scores are discussed: that they are (i) more functional/pedestrian, (ii) more experimental and/or (iii) not considered to be conventional musical compositions.
    Notes:
    This is a draft version of a paper submitted for publication. All comments/suggestions welcome (tweet @thatneilmartin or email Neiloncomedy@outlook.com)
    Metadata:
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    11 months ago
    License:
    Attribution

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