Tuning In

Ronald Rodman

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780195340242
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199863778 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Music / Media

Tuning In

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Tuning In: American Narrative Television Music examines how music functioned as a narrative agent during the first 50 years of American television broadcasting. While television has always used music to entertain its audience, music also took on the role of conveying aspects of narrative characters and action in television programs and commercials. This use of music was derived early from music in radio dramas and later from an influence of music in the cinema. Adopting the semiotic theories of Charles Sanders Peirce, Charles Morris, and John Fiske, the book describes the narrative and other functions of music in television by identifying three semiotic “spaces” of television: the extradiegetic, the intradiegetic, and the diegetic. In the extradiegetic space, music structures the “flow” of television, serving to demarcate units of television programming, such as programs, commercials, station identification, and so on. In the intradiegetic and diegetic space, music serves to convey meaning within a particular television program or commercial. Tuning In traces these three modes of signification of music in television through an exploration of the narrative genres of the anthology drama, the situation comedy, the western, the sci-fi fantasy, and the police drama, as well as in musical commercial devices such as the jingle. In these spaces, music “correlates” with the visual images and sounds of television to convey meanings that can be interpreted by the viewing audience familiar with the broadcasting codes of television.

Keywords: television music; television genres; television commercials; jingles; musical semiotics

Book.  352 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Popular Music ; American Music

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