Journal of Film Music, Advance Access

Listening to Another Italy: Egisto Macchi’s New Music for Italian Documentaries of the 1960s

Marco Cosci
Issued Date: 17 Apr 2019

Abstract


The transition between the 1950s and 1960s is a watershed moment for the construction of the Italian post-war identity through cinema. Not only do feature films of those years reflect this critical point, but also documentaries become a privileged medium for revealing the contradictions of a country that was increasingly divided between tradition and progress. In this article I focus on the production of composer Egisto Macchi, a leading figure in the renewal of Italian music. He worked with significant filmmakers scoring hundreds of non-fiction films during the 1960s. Combining archival sources with historiographical and theoretical discourses of musicology and film studies, I examine some key examples of Macchi’s soundtracks. Macchi’s scores shun widely encoded musical styles in an attempt to investigate the most striking and hidden character of the reality observed by the camera. On the one hand, experimental music is seen as the best way of engaging afresh with the subject matter; on the other, these documentaries establish a viewpoint and a way of hearing rooted in the contemporary music soundscape.

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DOI: 10.1558/jfm.37320

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