Exposition

Introduction: Rethinking Theories of Television Sound (2018)

Carolyn Birdsall

About this exposition

Studies on television sound typically begin by emphasizing that television, unlike film, relies more heavily on sounds than images and that the sound practices used in the production of television’s primary genres (including news, sports, game shows, sitcoms, commercials, etc.) are based on practices developed not for film sound but rather for radio. For example, in his 1982 book Visible Fictions John Ellis argues that television, unlike film, employs sound “to ensure a certain level of attention, to drag viewers back to looking at the set” (Ellis 1982: 128). Sound is more important for television, in other words, because it appeals to the sense of hearing rather than the voyeuristic pleasures of the cinematic gaze. Rick Altman’s 1986 essay “Television/Sound” similarly argues that film viewers assume “the stance of the voyeur,” while television employs sound to draw the viewer’s attention away from “surrounding objects of attention” (Altman 1986: 50). Altman also argues that the television soundtrack “serves a value-laden editing function, identifying […] the parts of the image that are sufficiently spectacular to merit closer attention on the part of the intermittent viewer” (Altman 1986: 47). Altman thus concludes that the average viewer watches television intermittently, and the soundtrack enables these “intermittent viewers” to follow the program even if they are not watching the images.
typeresearch exposition
date22/03/2016
published27/06/2018
last modified27/06/2018
statuspublished
share statusprivate
licenseAll rights reserved
urlhttps://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/262391/262392
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue3. Issue 3


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