Intermedial and Semiotic Architexture of Music in Film

The paper discusses the issue of intermedial references with a focus on quotation of musical pieces in film. The discussion is founded on several notions in intermedial studies and semiotics, namely, Irina Rajewsky’s concept of intermedial reference, Lars Elleström’s concepts of media and modality (defined as a range of modes of manifestation and experience of cultural phenomena and constructs), with special attention to sensorial and semiotic modalities, and the Peircean classification of signs in relation to dynamical object. The paper considers the reference as a meaning-making device that participates in the signification of a media-product and an indicative device of intermediality. It takes into account individual references to more or less known musical pieces, i.e., those that form a meaningful dialogue with a work in another medium, rather than those that refer to another medium as a system (system reference), – and examines how these references threaten the integrity of the textual body of film and simultaneously ground its recovery by creating and challenging the specific “diachronic” (in the literal sense of “through, after + time”) indexicality, inscribed into the system of filmic signs. Focusing on the perception of the tangible relationship between two media products, the paper analyses how the tensions that arise between hearing/seeing and indexical/iconic functions of sign constitute the meaning, depending on the kind (or type) of music to which the film refers and other factors that form or deny the (possibility of) meaningful intermedial dialogue. On the whole, the paper presents an attempt to perform a semiotic mapping of meaning-making process in which intermedial reference participates, – to describe the general traits of meaning-making mechanism, to identify the specificity of types of musical references, and to define the semiotic logic of distinction between different kinds of intermedial references to musical works, finally, to outline the premises, conditions and outcomes of their transformation into the semantic knots of filmic (archi)texture.

Irina Melnikova

Vilnius University

Irina Melnikova is professor at the A. J. Greimas Centre for Semiotics and Literary Theory at Vilnius University in Lithuania. She is also editor-in-chief of Semiotika. Her main areas of research are theory and practice of intertextuality and intermediality, adaptation studies, and the semiotics of Charles Sanders Peirce. She is the author of two books on intertextuality and intermediality: ‘Intertekstualumas: teorija ir praktika‘ [Intertextuality: Theory and Practice, 2003] and ‘Literatūros (inter)medialumo strofos, arba Žodis ir vaizdas‘ [Strophes of Literary (Inter)mediality, or Word and image, 2016], published by Vilnius University Press. She has published numerous articles in scholarly journals, including the Journal of European Studies, Adaptation, Semiotica, etc.

intermedial reference
sensorial modality
semiotic modality