Methodological Processes for Investigating Melody in Sound

Year: 2007

Author: Noad, Betty

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper draws from the theoretical modelling of sound as a social semiotic, by van Leeuwen (1999), and the growing discourse of multimodal semiotics, to examine the processes whereby speech, music and sound effects make meaning (semiosis) in film. Sound is increasingly significant for semiosis in contemporary digital multimodal texts presented on film, DVD and television. Multimodal literacy requires critical interpretations of textual meanings made in different communicative modes such as language, image and sound, particularly texts that persuade. While theoretical frameworks and metalanguages (grammars) are available for explicit teaching about the semiotic resources of language and image, there is a paucity of commensurate research which can support explicit teaching about the area of sound.

Methodologies for analysing the semiotic resources of sound are outlined in this paper. Using the soundtrack of The Queen filmtrailer, a conceptual and technical analysis of melody will be described and modelled in detail to critique how this methodology reveals semiotic processes, such as how melody realises the expression of emotions and feelings. Such analytic research methodologies have implications for developing frameworks and metalanguages for teaching about sound, and towards multimodal literacy.