The use of popular music in Quentin Tarantinos 'Reservoir Dogs '

Seminar Paper, 2004

13 Pages, Grade: 1,7


2. Introduction

2.1. Why Quentin Tarantino?

Qurntin Tarantino´s movies are mostly violent scenarios in the world of American West-Coast gangster bosses and their Hit-Men - Shoot-outs, language as brutal as the action and even cooler quotations.

Almost all of his movies have managed to be at least cult among the younger generations. Is the type of music Tarantino uses in most his films responsible for their popularity, since it is mostly popular music? If it is, what exactly is the effect of the music that Tarantino uses? One may certainly say that in his movies film and music represent two different types of media: There are no movie-themes involved which have been composed only for this purpose.

As a regisseur, Tarantino prefers "chewing gum" music as he calls it, which contrasts the scenes taking place on the screen (Havighorst, Michaltsi, Strauß).

Tarantino´s songs have has an “own life” in the real world of the watchers, apart from the movie. The most famous example is probably the “Pulp Fiction”- soundtrack-album, which in is, in certain circles, mostly of the female gender, even more popular than the movie itself.

Anyway, it seems obvious that Tarantino has a specific style of combining the accoustic and the visual media in his works. I want to find out possible results and intentions of this more or less unique combination.

2.2. Definition of Popular Music

“Popular music, sometimes abbreviated to pop music, is music belonging to any of a number of contemporary musical styles that are broadly popular. A narrower sense of the term, usually "pop music", covers mainstream music that does not fall into any more specialized style such as jazz or hip hop. In the broader sense, "popular music" means any sort of music intended for mass consumption and propagated over the radio and similar media. For the varieties of popular music in this sense, see the list below.” (

2.3. The Procedure

When I started this analysis I watched the film itself several times. The first time I watched it just as a regular viewer, without stopping it or taking any notes to refresh my impression of the whole work. The second time I took notes on when exactly a music title entered the action, what context the action built up before the song is played and what or if the music has an emotional effect on me as the viewer. The third time watching I kept on taking notes and tried to relate the songs´ lyrics to the action taking place while the tune was played.

Forrmally, there are four analysable characteristics for a popular song in a movie:

The lyrics of a song can be analysed on whether they interprate the action that is shown in the same moment in the film or if they hide a message by the regisseur for the audience as well.

Its “sound”, the musical character of a song, whether it is “fast” or “slow” or “high” or “deep” sounding, what instruments are used etc. This charcteristic is mainly responsible for the emotional impact of a song on the viewer.


Excerpt out of 13 pages


The use of popular music in Quentin Tarantinos 'Reservoir Dogs '
University of Potsdam
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ISBN (eBook)
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Quentin, Tarantinos, Reservoir, Dogs
Quote paper
Felix Bellermann (Author), 2004, The use of popular music in Quentin Tarantinos 'Reservoir Dogs ', Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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