Music and sound in documentary film communication: an exploration of Une Affaire de Nègres and Chef!


  • Paul Animbom Ngong The Department of Performing and Visual Arts Faculty of Arts The University of Bamenda



acoustic signs, communication, documentary film, music, sound


This paper examines the function of music and sound as important elements of documentary film communication. It considers the soundtrack to have equal value as the visual track. This is even more appalling when sound is viewed as an aesthetic constituent of a film or as acoustic signs with equal communicative value as visual signs. Two films are used to show the role music and sound play in facilitating comprehension in a documentary film. Focusing particularly on testimonies, narrative commentary, filmic silence and music, the study shows how documentary films provide a unique medium to engage an audience in a story of facts and provides a unique vehicle for information transmission. The success of these two films among mainstream audiences indicates the power of a thoughtful and intentional soundtrack which accentuates the subject without dictating it and provides examples of a utilisation of music to build an emotional connection between the audience and the film’s subject matter.

Author Biography

Paul Animbom Ngong, The Department of Performing and Visual Arts Faculty of Arts The University of Bamenda

Senior Lecturer of Film, Theatre and Therapeutic Communication, The Department of Performing and Visual Arts


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How to Cite

Animbom Ngong, P. (2020). Music and sound in documentary film communication: an exploration of Une Affaire de Nègres and Chef!. CINEJ Cinema Journal, 8(1), 156–184.