Semiosis in the Film Soundtrack: Aural Perspective and Social Distance in The Queen Film Trailer

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Noad, Betty
Unsworth, Len
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The emergence of digital technologies has changed the design of texts and our literate practices so that we now interpret and construct texts which have written, visual, audio and spatial dimensions for making meaning, that is, multimodal texts. Contemporary digital texts such as television advertisements, film trailers, video and television programs increasingly privilege sound features (speech, music, sound effects) to 'design' meanings and to 'position' listeners towards the interests of the composers of multimodal texts. Indeed digital texts that persuade, such as television advertisements and film trailers, particularly feature sound to build a convincing message about a product, for consumers. Sound now takes a significant place alongside language and visual images in the digital texts of our multimodal landscape (Baldry & Thibault 2006, van Leeuwen 1999), and will be a crucial part of texts that students must learn to critically understand and use. This paper discusses the educational imperative for schools to begin developing students' knowledge about sound as an integral communicative mode in contemporary digital texts. In acknowledging the paucity of research that frames and supports teaching about sound, this paper also argues the need for research that builds a rigorous basis for theorising the modal resources of sound, and informs pedagogical practice. In this educational research context, one such research perspective in relation to sound is examined in this paper. van Leeuwen's theoretical modelling of sound as a social semiotic, as presented in his book Speech, Music, Sound (1999) is outlined, and it informs the exploratory research design reported in the final section of this paper. van Leeuwen's assertion that the conceptual and technical description of semiotic resources of sound facilitates the interpretation of meaning is investigated. Using The Queen film trailer as a model, van Leeuwen's methodology is applied to analyse the semiotic resource of loudness, and interpret the meaning of loudness. The educational implications of this investigation are discussed.

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Literacy Learning: the Middle Years

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© 2007 Australian Literacy Educators' Association. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.

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English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. LOTE, ESL and TESOL)

Education Systems

Curriculum and Pedagogy

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