Sound Analysis Of Citizen Kane
Uploaded by bdogg on Apr 25, 2007
Sound Analysis Of "Citizen Kane"
Citizen Kane’s soundtrack is a reason why this movie is considered one of the greatest pictures of all time. Barry Fesler and James G. Stewart, who were also accompanied by the composer, Bernard Herrmann, created the soundtrack for this film. The plain genius of the use of sound and reoccurring motifs in this picture parallel the action with quite precision. They use bridges, dissolves, sound effects and supporting scores to enhance and to meld visual with audio.
The first extra-ordinary sound technique I noticed was the echo effect. It was used to not only support the wealth and massive structures in where the characters were at, but also to engrave that idea of the ‘emptiness’ in them. This technique dominated the audio when we were taken to Walter Thatcher’s library and Citizen Kane’s palace.
Another tool the sound design team structured around was the use of paralleling the music to the scene. The use of ‘stingers’ to enforce the moments was admirable. This is heard all throughout the movie, especially in moments of shifting emotions. The “Newspaper Talkie” and Kane’s flashback to his youth are recognizable scenes of paralleling the score. The practice of counterpoint is rarely used at all. Instead of “asyncing,” the score focuses on the absence of music altogether, which brings out the loneliness of the scene. An example would be when Kane’s second wife, Susan Alexander leaves him for good. The absence of music allows the moment to sink in to both Kane and the audience.
Another technique the film uses is the bridge. The dissolve is used a lot, especially with Susan’s singing, but does not dominate or enhance the movie like it’s use of bridging. Off screen sounds are used frequently for opening a scene. This creates a slight feeling of alienation, where the camera and the sound are trying to meet on screen to anchor itself. This technique, of psychological precision, is used perfectly to support this mystery setting of this picture.
Those are some of the dominant examples of sound usage throughout the movie Citizen Kane. The entirety of the soundtrack is a solid cocoon for the film to stretch and grow within. The main principles of the soundtrack focus around the idea that the music parallels the scene,...