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Framing jazz: thoughts on representation and embodiment

Elsdon, Peter



Björn Heile

Jenny Doctor


Abstract: Audiovisual representations of jazz performances provide us with more information than audio recordings. The camera not only allows us access to music performances, it also constructs vantage points by framing its subjects in specific ways. This chapter explores aspects of representation and embodiment in jazz performance on film. By looking at filmic technique through shot composition, levels of close-up, focus, and so on, the chapter examines how filmic representation works to mediate the way in which viewers are directed to gaze at and understand performances. Beginning with some examples of Hollywood “Soundies” (including a film of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra) and moving to documentary-style films of jazz performance (including examples by Chet Baker and Jim Hall), this chapter shows how filmic techniques and production can serve to highlight musical hierarchies and relationships, providing a kind of commentary on the music.


Elsdon, P. (2016). Framing jazz: thoughts on representation and embodiment. In B. Heile, P. Elsdon, & J. Doctor (Eds.), Watching jazz: Encounters with jazz performance on screen (37-56). Oxford University Press.

Publication Date Jul 1, 2016
Deposit Date Dec 21, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Watching jazz
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 37-56
Book Title Watching jazz: Encounters with jazz performance on screen
ISBN 9780199347650
Keywords Jazz; Framing; Representation; Gaze; Production; Performance
Public URL
Publisher URL


Chapter (423 Kb)

Copyright Statement
© 2016 the author, reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press

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