Reflection and Introspection in the Film Scores of Thomas Newman
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The most transformative moments in life cause us to look both backward (reflection) and inward (introspection). Likewise, reflective and introspective moments in film often align with important plot points. Separating music and dialogue from the rhythms of the image, these moments suspend time, creating a distinct temporality for the character(s) and the viewer to observe the past and the present in juxtaposition. The music of film composer Thomas Newman brings to life some of the most beautiful reflective and introspective moments in cinema. In this thesis, I approach Newman’s understudied, but highly successful film scores from narrative, musical, and audiovisual perspectives. Recognizing time as a linear common denominator between the multimedia elements of film, I examine case study scenes in Little Women (1994), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), and American Beauty (1999). Additionally, I present Kofi Agawu’s method of generative analysis as a tool well-suited to Newman’s unique harmonic language.