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Breaking the Mould: gender, stereotypes, and coding in the musical scoring of Disney’s female characters.

Smith, Eleanor (2016) Breaking the Mould: gender, stereotypes, and coding in the musical scoring of Disney’s female characters. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

The work of Walt Disney studios has become an important influence in animation history, helping to mould the way we observe everyday life through image and music. These films are so iconic and memorable they have the power to influence their audience. Disney films have been known to portray gendered and sexual identities in problematic ways; often presenting the male protagonist as the hero and the women as helpless frail figures. However, there is inadequate research into the music of these films, and this thesis will investigate the role of the score and soundtrack observing the songs and underscore of a variety of Disney films between 1937 to 2010. Case studies are grouped thematically around three significant and recurring stereotypes of women that occur: the virtuous wife, the fallen woman and maternal and motherly figures.

Music and image are shown to be crucial elements in the way Disney’s Hollywood animations represent women, with elements of coding and stereotyping as key features in the writing. Music has the power to influence and to cause viewers to feel empathy towards the on screen characters; without music the image would not successfully bring its messages across. Furthermore, techniques used in film throughout history have been developed through models in order for animated films to appear realistic and trustworthy. The voice is also a largely influential factor in the writing for a Hollywood score, with the notion that women are silenced and men are the dominant opposition to continuously control the situation. The following films are examined in the thesis: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (p. Disney, c. Churchill, Harline, Smith, 1937), Pinocchio (p. Disney, c. Harline, Smith, 1940),Dumbo (p. Disney, c. Churchill, Husher, Wallace, 1941), Sleeping Beauty (p. Disney, c. Adar, Bruns, Lawrence, 1959), 101 Dalmations (p. Disney, c. Bruns, Leven, 1961), The Little Mermaid (p. Disney, c. Ashman, Menken, 1989), Beauty and the Beast (p. Disney, c. Ashman, Menken, 1991),Pocahontas (p. Disney, c. Menken, 1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (p. Disney, c. Menken, 1996), Hercules (p. Disney, c. Menken, 1997), Mulan (p. Disney, c. Goldsmith, 1998), Tarzan (p. Disney, c. Collins, 1999), Tangled (p. Disney, c. Menken, 2010).

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Sally Hughes
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2017 10:43
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 19:37
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/31074

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