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Of Submarines and Sharks: Musical Settings of a Silent Menace

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This essay analyses the substance of the submarine myth and its relation to the shark myth, as it has been propagated in film since Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975). The essential elements of the submarine myth are defined, with stealth being at the center of the submarine existence. As with sharks in the natural ocean surrounding, submarine warfare exploits the basic human fear of the silent monster coming from the depth, unheard and unseen. In fictional film, this highly emotional essence of both the submarine and the shark myth is exploited especially in the design of the soundtrack. The essay exposes techniques of sound design and musical composition in various films that serve to impart the feeling of a silent, deadly menace.
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Keywords: U-Boat; compositional techniques; film music; sharks; sound effects; soundtrack; submarines; suspense

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Aarhus University.

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Horror Studies intends to serve the international academic community in the humanities and specifically those scholars interested in horror. Exclusively examining horror, this journal will provide interested professionals with an opportunity to read outstanding scholarship from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including work conceived as interdisciplinary. By expanding the conversation to include specialists concerned with diverse historical periods, varied geography, and a wide variety of expressive media, this journal will inform and stimulate anyone interested in a wider and deeper understanding of horror
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