1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Global Film Music in the Early Sound Era

Edited By Jeremy Barham Copyright 2024
    842 Pages 246 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In a major expansion of the conversation on music and film history, The Routledge Companion to Global Film Music in the Early Sound Era draws together a wide-ranging collection of scholarship on music in global cinema during the transition from silent to sound films (the late 1920s to the 1940s).

    Moving beyond the traditional focus on Hollywood, this Companion considers the vast range of cinema and music created in often-overlooked regions throughout the rest of the world, providing crucial global context to film music history. An extensive editorial Introduction and 50 chapters from an array of international experts connect the music and sound of these films to regional and transnational issues—culturally, historically, and aesthetically—across five parts:

    • Western Europe and Scandinavia
    • Central and Eastern Europe
    • North Africa, The Middle East, Asia, and Australasia
    • Latin America
    • Soviet Russia

    Filling a major gap in the literature, The Routledge Companion to Global Film Music in the Early Sound Era offers an essential reference for scholars of music, film studies, and cultural history.


    List of music examples, figures, and tables

    Notes on contributors

    Introduction. Jeremy Barham

    PART 1. Western Europe and Scandinavia

    1. “A Very Great Error of Judgment”: caution and timidity in the musical provision of Britain’s early talkie features. Geoff Brown

    2. A man saying “Mooh” and an actress bursting into an aria about red and white radishes. Early sound film in The Netherlands: developments & debates. Emile Wennekes

    3. The use of non-diegetic music in early Swedish talkies 1930–1931. Christopher Natzén

    4. The Kinotheken and Giuseppe Becce’s scoring practices in early German sound cinema. Maria Fuchs

    5. Eternally feminine: Das blaue Licht (1932), Anna und Elisabeth (1933), Elisabeth und der Narr (1933), and cultural representations of womanhood in the scoring of early sound films from Weimar-Republic Germany. Jeremy Barham

    6. Film music in France, 1928–1940. Colin Roust

    7. Silent film, music, and fantasy during the transition to sound. James Buhler

    8. Coming to terms with music as narrative architecture: Jean Grémillon’s Maldone (1928), La Petite Lise (1930), and Daïnah la Métisse (1932). Dominique Nasta and Hubert Bolduc-Cloutier

    9. Readymade soundtracks: musical accompaniment for Dada and surrealist film. Suzy Mangion

    10. Exotic music, colonial others, and French cultural identity in poetic realist cinema. Hannah Lewis

    11. The advent of sound film in Italy and the first approaches to the new audio-visual genre by Italian composers during the years 1930–1940. Kristjan Stopar

    12. “Oh … Modern Music!” Hollywood, satire, and “modernism” in Giuseppe Piazzi’s score for I fratelli dinamite (1949). Marco Bellano

    13. The Folkloric film musical in the Spanish second republic (1931–1939): Imperio Argentina, Florián Rey and their Morena Clara. Laura Miranda González

    14. Composing the nation: the role of fado in A Severa, the first Portuguese sound film (1931). Helena Marinho and Susana Sardo

    PART 2. Central and Eastern Europe

    15. Music and dance in the service of modern Poland in Polish films of the 1930s. Ewa Mazierska

    16. Battle of songs: music and language in left-wing Yiddish films made in Poland during the 1930s and 1940s. Iwona Sowińska 

    17. Film song as a synergistic commodity in the acoustic media culture of 1930s Czechoslovakia. Petr Szczepanik

    18. Charms and whispers: musical comedy and vocal performance in Oldřich Nový’s star image 1936–1945. Šárka Gmiterková 

    19. The metamusical qualities of the Viennese film, cine-operetta, and the music film in Austrian sound film of the 1930s. Robert Dassanowsky

    20.  Composing for the screen, composing for the stage: Hungarian film composers in the interwar period. Zsuzsanna Varga

    21. A theme runs through it: early Hungarian sound films and the music of Tibor Weygand. Gábor Gergely

    22.  Who is singing over there? The Potpourri of multiple voices in early sound cinema of the Balkans. Ana Grgic and Marian Tutui

    23. Early Greek talkies (1930–1940): struggling between technological innovation and theatrical tradition. Emmanuel Arkolakis

    24. Intercultural synergies in early Mediterranean sound cinema: Togo Mizrahi’s Greek-speaking film The Girl Refugee (1938). Nick Poulakis

    25.  From alafranga to alaturca, from operettas to melodramas: music in early Turkish talkies. Özge Özyılmaz 

    26.  “The Dream of a Fatty:” the first Lithuanian sound film in the context of early puppet-animation films. Antanas Kučinskas

    PART 3. North Africa, The Middle East, Asia, and Australasia

    27.  Essentially Egyptian: the development of a syncretic film song style. Margaret Farrell

    28. The singing cinema: synchronized sound and the reception by press and audiences of singing films in Egypt, 1907–1934. Mohannad Ghawanmeh

    29. Myth-building through diegetic African music in early South African sound films. Christopher Jeffery

    30. The Indian origins of the Iranian sound film. Pedram Partovi

    31.  Sound and music in the early Indian talkie: 1931–1936. Virchand Dharamsey and Iyesha Geeth Abbas 

    32. The musical language of Indian film song of the 1940s. John Caldwell

    33.  Mental hearing of sound: the evocation and mediation of acoustic experience in Two Stars in the Milky Way (1931). Ling Zhang

    34. Film songwriting practices in pre-war Hong Kong cinema: a case study of director Chan Pei. Stephanie Ng

    35. Charitable or traitorous? The ethics and aesthetics of performance in Myriad of Colors (1943). Timmy Chih-Ting Chen

    36. Singing Japanese modernity: a genealogy of performance scenes in early talkies in Japan and their heterogeneous representation. Fumito Shirai 

    37.  Emerging from silence: Shochiku, Ito, and Ozu’s early sound films. James M. Doering

    38.  Tarzan meets Hiawatha: Musical representation in Australian Indigenous films of the 1930s. Anthony Linden Jones

    PART 4. Latin America

    39. Imaginaries from Buenos Aires. From tango poetics of the 1920s toward sound films in the 1930s. Pablo Piedras

    40. Film and tango: the contribution of Luis César Amadori to the Argentine film industry in the late 1930s. Lucía Rodríguez Riva

    41. Songs beyond “El Rancho Grande”: trans/national and cross-media dimensions in the Mexican Comedia Ranchera. Peter W. Schulze 

    42. Dance, desire, and cosmopolitanism: early Danzón performances in the 1930s Mexican prostitute melodrama. Jacqueline Avila and Oswaldo Mejí Mendiola

    43.  Beyond the musical numbers: the Brazilian film Coisas Nossas and its arrangements with the local record industry. Suzana Reck Miranda

    44. Between Cinearte and Phono-arte: on the arrival of Brazilian sound film in two magazines. Rafael de Luna Freire

    45. Villa-Lobos’s music for the feature O descobrimento do Brasil [The Discovery of Brazil] (1937): nationalism in the early sound era. Anselmo Mancini

    46.  When ‘early’ sound cinema was ‘late:’ differential chronologies in Chile, Uruguay, Cuba and Colombia. Ana M. López

    PART 5. Soviet Russia

    47.  The sound of socialist realism: excess and ideology in Stalinist film. Lilya Kaganovsky

    48.  “New Means of Enormous Power”: music in early Soviet sound film. Kathryn Kalinak

    49.  Experimentalism and the ‘mainstream’ in the early film scores of Gavril Popov and Vladimir Shcherbachyov. Joan Titus

    50. Accordions as ‘sluts,’ guitars as Gypsies, and pianos as noble fops: the images of Russian musical instruments in Soviet sound movies of the 1930s. Dmitri Zakharine 



    Jeremy Barham is Professor of Music at the University of Surrey, where he is also Director of the Institute of Austrian and German Music Research. He researches screen music, the music and culture of Gustav Mahler, and jazz. He was supported by the British Academy and DAAD in an archival investigation into the music of early German sound film, from which this edited volume grew. In screen music, he has published on experimental film, pre-existent music, the sci-fi genre, the aesthetics of live-score screenings, and jazz in film.