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200 × 153 × 27 mm
320 pages
135 illustrations, 37 in colour
01 Apr 2015

Jim Jarmusch Music, Words and Noise Sara Piazza

Jim Jarmusch: Music, Words and Noise is the first book to examine the films of Jim Jarmusch from a sound-oriented perspective. Exploring the director’s extensive filmography, including Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Down By Law (1986), Dead Man (1995) and Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), Sara Piazza identifies the three essential acoustic elements that structure film: music, words and noise. Through this unique reading, she reveals how Jarmusch created a form of ‘sound democracy’ in film, in which the audible and visual are equally important and different acoustic layers can infiltrate each other. In his cultural melting pot, ‘high’ and ‘low’ coexist: Schubert and Japanese noise bands, Christopher Marlowe and Betty Boop, Bartók and the Wu-Tang Clan.

Jarmusch’s distinctive reputation, consolidated over the course of a 30-year career and created by drawing together music, cinema, visual art and literature, is deeply connected to his treatment of sound. Based in New York, Jarmusch was able to develop a fiercely personal vision far from the commercial pressures of Hollywood. This book features original, illuminating interviews with many prominent figures from the film, literary and music worlds, including Ennio Morricone, Luc Sante, Roberto Benigni, John Lurie and Jim Jarmusch himself.

A fascinating account of a much-admired body of work, Jim Jarmusch will appeal not only to fans of his work but to all those interested in the connections between sound and film.

To visit Sara Piazza’s Jim Jarmusch website please click here.

‘The work is a much-needed and excellent addition to the limited number of publications dedicated to a very influential and well respected filmmaker . . . This book is an essential companion to the cinema, music and poetry of Jarmusch, and is accessible to both devotees of the filmmaker and newcomers to his work. It will be of interest for film scholars and students, cinema and music lovers alike.’ — Senses of Cinema

‘Sara Piazza has sought to peel away some of the dense layers of Jarmuschs identity in this intelligently written book that suggests that sound without vision is only half of the big picture.’ — Monacle Magazine

‘Piazzas book is a lengthy and detailed study of Jarmusch that intelligently explores his work in terms of sound and which does draw on a few academic sources . . . Piazza doesnt merely analyse how sound functions within his films, but argues for the importance of sound in terms of how it structures and permeates them. In focusing on how three sonic aspects work in his films music, words and noise . . . her analyses on the whole are sophisticated and rich . . . an excellent and highly recommended book which contains some extremely insightful reflections on Jarmuschs art.’ — Viewfinder

‘the book serves as an important and compelling model for film criticism/film scholarship that engages with and makes itself legible to non-academic cinephiles. The book balances close readings of Jarmuschs filmography with historical background and personal interviews. Unlike many single-subject volumes aimed at the general public, Piazza never allows her book to devolve into a simple hagiography (despite her clear affinity for Jarmuschs work). What she has produced, instead, is a genuine critical history of an important filmmaker, and the shifting, complicated and rich historical and cultural contexts in which he lived and worked.’ — Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

‘Youll come away wanting to see a Jim Jarmusch film if you havent seen one, and to put this stuff to the test.’ — The Quietus

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Sara Piazza is a radio journalist, documentary film producer and interpreter based in Berlin. She is a contributor to many publications including the Berlin newspaper Die Tageszeitung.



Voices: Amos Poe

1. Flashback: New York Stories

Voices: Phil Kline

2. Jarmusch, the Musician

Voices: John Lurie

3. John Lurie, Gamelan, and Minimal Music

Voices: Marc Ribot

4. Memphis Hip Hop, Mestizos and Samurai


Voices: Masatoshi Nagase

5. The Battle Against Verbocentrism

Voices: Roberto Benigni

6. The Melting Pot of Words, the Way of Cultural Relativism

Voices: Luc Sante

7. Jarmusch, the Poet


Voices: Eszter Balint

8. Communicating at all Cost: Intelligent Noise

Voices: Taylor Mead

9. Silence

Voices: Ennio Morricone

Voices: Jim Jarmusch


Profile of Interviewees

Musical Filmography


Photo Acknowledgements