“Half of the storytelling ability is sound,” Joe Herrington famously said. And although Herrington isn’t a filmmaker (he works for the Disney theme parks as a Media Designer in the Imagineering department), the same goes for the movies. Why is it then that sound makes up no way near half of all the scholarly research, or video essays, on film?


With this video essay, USC graduate student Brian Cantrell contributes to tipping the balance. Impulse: Electronic Tonalities in Cinema was published in the online journal for cinema studies The Cine-Files. It looks at (or better, listens to) the way analogue electronic music instruments were used in the movies. The way they contributed to creating eerie, even alien atmospheres. How they evoked subconscious states and served as markers of the borders between material and immaterial realms. Cantrell makes some interesting points in this well-made video, that also demonstrates his historical grasp of the subject matter.