1st Edition

Music and Sound in Silent Film From the Nickelodeon to The Artist

Edited By Ruth Barton, Simon Trezise Copyright 2019
    226 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    226 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Despite their name, the silent films of the early cinematic era were frequently accompanied by music and other sound elements of many kinds, including mechanical instruments, live performers, and audience sing-alongs. The 12 chapters in this concise book explore the multitude of functions filled by music in the rapidly changing context of the silent film era, as the concept of cinema itself developed. Examples are drawn from around the globe and across the history of silent film, both during the classic era of silent film and later uses of the silent format. With contributors drawn from film studies and music disciplines, and including both senior and emerging scholars, Music and Sound in Silent Film offers an essential introduction to the origins of film music and the cinematic art form.

    Introduction (Simon Trezise) / Part One: The evolution of sound and performance practices, the American experience / 1. ‘Better Music at Smaller Cost’: Selling Mechanical Instruments to American Motion Picture Houses in the 1910s (Jim Buhler and Allison Wente) / 2. Musical Suggestions for Hollywood Films, 1908-1927 (Kendra Preston Leonard) / 3. Sing them again: audience singing in silent film (Malcolm Cook) / Part Two: The evolution of sound and performance practices, the global experience / 4. ‘Players Must Be of a Good Class’: Women and Concert Musicians in Irish Picture Houses, 1910-20 (Denis Condon) / 5. Women musicians in the transition between silent and sound cinema (Laraine Porter)/ Part Three: Synchronisation and scoring – historical practices / 6. Music’s Role in the Development of the ‘Mute’ Feature Film: Ben Hur and Wings (Gillian B. Anderson) / 7. Edmund Meisel’s score to Der heilige Berg (1926): Prefiguring Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ narrative-scoring practices in live performance (Fiona Ford) / Part Four - Synchronisation and scoring – contemporary reworkings / 8. Carl Davis, interview by Simon Trezise / 9. Scenes from Ozu (Ed Hughes) / 10. Damaging a film; rediscovering a film. A Musical Comparison of Three DVD Editions of Nosferatu (Emilio Audissino) / 11. Electroacoustic Composition and Silent Film (Nicholas Brown) / 12. The Modern ‘Silent Film’ (James Wierzbicki) / 13. About the Contributors / Index


    Ruth Barton is Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Trinity College Dublin. She is the author of Irish National Cinema, Acting Irish in Hollywood: From Fitzgerald to Farrell, Hedy Lamarr: The Most Beautiful Woman in Film, and Rex Ingram: Visionary Director of the Silent Screen.

    Simon Trezise is Associate Professor in the Department of Music, Trinity College Dublin. He is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to French Music.

    "Music and Sound in Silent Film contains illuminating and new research, combining it with some more traditional approaches and offering an historical contextual introduction to silent cinema music. It includes interesting and insightful articles that are well worth reading, and thus forms another welcome contribution to the field of silent cinema music research." 

    Claus Tieber, University of Vienna, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

    “There are many positive aspects to this insightful and enjoyable collection, and it will likely be added to reading lists for many university courses on music for film. The contributors bring silent film music to life for the reader and it is the balance between musicological and film studies scholarship alongside contributions from practitioners that make it particularly valuable. Furthermore, the inclusion of research into contemporary reworkings of music and sound for silent film is very welcome,as is the way in which several chapters in the book illuminate social and political questions around women and their agency in a period in which they have been traditionally overlooked.”

    —Laura Anderson, University College Dublin, Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland