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DBS Library Press

Sound and Film

Edited by Matthew Nolan

Call for Submissions

DBS Library Press is currently seeking submissions for a monograph on Sound and Film to be published in February 2020. The book will be edited by Matthew Nolan and published by DBS Library Press.

Our intention is to publish a peer-reviewed collection of chapters relating to and building upon the theme of Sound and Film. See abstract.  We invite submissions from scholars, musicians, composers, film directors, producers, writers, students and others. The peer-reviewed content will sit alongside original creative work on the open access platform.


Matthew Nolan is a composer and lecturer at Dublin Business School.

DBS Library Press publishes peer-reviewed academic work alongside original and review work by creators, practitioners and experts. Under its Creative Commons license, authors retain full ownership of their work.

Submission Details

Deadline for submissions is 30th September 2019.  Please submit to




Sound in cinema and visual media warrants critical appraisal quite simply because it is a crucial element in the creation of meaning. As many critics have elucidated, cinema has always been audio-visual. Before the arrival of the recorded soundtrack in the late 1920s, film screenings were accompanied by numerous forms of musical orchestration, narration, sound effects, and even performed or sung dialogue.

Given the medium’s intrinsically audio-visual nature, it follows that sound should make a substantial contribution to the effects and meanings created by cinema. However, the excessive privileging of the image has resulted in the fallacy that film is a visual rather than audio-visual medium. Consequently, sound is regularly conceived as an addendum to the cinematic image, and the study of cinema has been, and continues to be dominated by visual concerns.

The initial task assumed by the first wave of modern film sound studies was to address this cultural bias and the resultant critical neglect that had befallen sound. Fortunately, critical debates have progressed since then and the importance of what we hear is finally unequivocal. The challenge now is to evaluate how thinking on the sonic qualities of cinema explored further, and how to redress areas of neglect within the discipline.

The scope of film sound studies in 2019 has expanded to include all forms of visual media, emerging from an increasing variety of genres and cultural contexts. Although the growing range of films being studied has further developed our appreciation of film sound, the manner in which the soundtrack has been conceptualised, and by extension the ways which it has been appraised, have changed relatively little. There has been a tendency, predicated on the limited industrial model in cinema, for writers to analyse the soundtrack according to its more conventionally recognised elements. All too often, an emphasis is placed on the role played by more conservative musical forms.

Unfortunately, in focusing on these elements of the soundtrack in vacuo, the tendency is to elide their commonalities and interrelatedness. Therefore, one of the challenges now facing contemporary film sound studies is to conceive alternative critical strategies that allow for a more holistic consideration of the soundtrack.