Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Funeral March in Chopin’s Sonata No. 2 in B-Flat Minor, Op. 35: Exploring the Employment of a Dramatic Musical Piece in a Dark Comedy Film
by Ntais, Angelos, M.M., California State University, Long Beach, 2019, 29; 13814319
Abstract (Summary)

The Funeral March is the third movement of the Piano Sonata No. 2 in B-flat Minor, Op. 35 by Frédéric Chopin, written in 1837. The musical ideas in the Funeral March are simple but engaging, expressive, and extraordinarily dark. Chopin used two main themes in the first section of this movement to convey emotions of lament and grief but also explosive anger. The middle (trio) section is totally different, with an impressively simple and peaceful, singing melody being the focal point of the music material.

The goal of this study is to investigate the cinematic purposes of using Chopin’s Funeral March, a purely dark and dramatic piece of music, in Arsenic and Old Lace (1944), a dark comedy film. It is interesting to describe the use of the Funeral March in a humorous scene of this movie. The musical and visual interplay illustrates a collision between the intrinsically dark character of the piece and the funny character of this scene. A discussion about the purpose of this collision will be developed, aiming to identify its nature and, therefore, the viewers’/listeners’ understanding of Chopin’s Funeral March in a multidimensional cinematic context. On another level, there will be a discussion about the purpose of using music in films, the viewers’ perceptual experience of film music and the effectiveness of using a pre-existing classical piece of music, when the intention is to convey complex moods and emotions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Chou, Shun-Lin
Commitee: Hickman, Roger, Richey, Craig
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Bob Cole Conservatory of Music
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 81/4(E), Masters Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Music, Film studies, Music history
Keywords: Arsenic and Old Lace, Capra, Chopin, Funeral March
Publication Number: 13814319
ISBN: 9781687951878
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