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Author Topic: Music for silent films
Jason Patnode
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Zephyr Cove, NV, USA
Registered: Jul 2017


 - posted January 10, 2018 07:11 AM      Profile for Jason Patnode   Author's Homepage   Email Jason Patnode   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What are people's choices for playing music for silent films? I know they used to play live during screenings, but does anyone know where to begin searching for the original music. I have picked up some oldies from here on the forum like Metropolis, Lost World, Nosferatu, and the General to name a few. Thought it would be fun to track down thr original music if possible. Or failing that, what music, if any, do people play while screening?

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Jason Patnode

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Melvin England
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 707
From: Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
Registered: Feb 2016


 - posted January 10, 2018 07:31 AM      Profile for Melvin England   Email Melvin England   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There used to be a company in the UK called Boosey & Hawkes that produced quite a lot of "atmosphere" records, which was really various types of "mood" music. They really do help enhance a silent film if chosen correctly.
Alternatively, I have used classical music. The criteria I have used on occasions is A) The running time of the piece is the same as my film (assuming it was a home movie lasting no more than a few minutes)and B)The piece does actually match the images. Not a perfect criteria, but it does a surprisingly good job.

Hope this helps.

.

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"My name is for my friends!"

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Dominique De Bast
Film God

Posts: 4486
From: Brussels, Belgium
Registered: Jun 2013


 - posted January 10, 2018 07:35 AM      Profile for Dominique De Bast   Email Dominique De Bast   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Piano is probably the most used but accordion and guitar suit as well.
I personnaly don't mind to watch a silent film without other sound that the projector's one.

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Dominique

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Joe Caruso
Film God

Posts: 4105
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted January 10, 2018 10:34 AM      Profile for Joe Caruso   Email Joe Caruso   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Griggs-Moviedrome-Essex, here in Jersey would have accompanying cassette tapes to play along side 24fps silent films - There was also several LPs from Coral Records which added to the atmosphere - Best bet, locate a Blackhawk print with William Perry or Gaylorde Carter scores, these are truly what makes a good listen - Original music is whatever you'd like it to be, the earliest silents had only a piano and/or violin - Nothing was written down as the "score of the day", so to speak - Shorty

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David Hardy
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 955
From: Johnshaven Village , Montrose, Scotland
Registered: Jan 2015


 - posted January 10, 2018 11:02 AM      Profile for David Hardy   Email David Hardy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I tend to make up my own soundtracks mainly from Classical Symphonies and String Quartets etc.

However you can buy on CD a score by James Bernard for NOSFERATU. Bernard composed the music for some Hammer Films including the 1958 DRACULA ( HORROR OF DRACULA in the USA ).

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" My equipment's more important than your rats. "

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Jason Patnode
Film Handler

Posts: 45
From: Zephyr Cove, NV, USA
Registered: Jul 2017


 - posted January 10, 2018 04:35 PM      Profile for Jason Patnode   Author's Homepage   Email Jason Patnode   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Many thanks for the info everyone. I'm heading online to check out some of the leads.

David, I'm definitely putting in an order for the Nosferatu score. I had no idea that was available.

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Jason Patnode

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David Hardy
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 955
From: Johnshaven Village , Montrose, Scotland
Registered: Jan 2015


 - posted January 10, 2018 04:58 PM      Profile for David Hardy   Email David Hardy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Jason the NOSFERATU score was released on CD by on Silva Screen Records CD number FILMCD 192 away back in 1997.

Nic Raine conducting the The City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. I hope you can find a copy.
[Smile]

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" My equipment's more important than your rats. "

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Burton Sundquist
Master Film Handler

Posts: 318
From: Burnaby, B.C. Canada
Registered: Feb 2017


 - posted January 11, 2018 01:00 AM      Profile for Burton Sundquist   Email Burton Sundquist   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
...Remember Giorgio Moroder? And Metropolis? Safe with piano I think.

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Chris Bird
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 218
From: Kingston upon Thames, UK
Registered: Jul 2013


 - posted January 11, 2018 02:37 AM      Profile for Chris Bird   Email Chris Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Nosferatu score was composed for the 1997 Photoplay release of the restored film (I saw it with live orchestra at the time). Several other Photoplay / Thames TV scores from the Brownlow and Gill restorations were issued, including Intolerance, Phantom of the Opera and Napoleon. But bear in mind they are edited to fit one CD, they don't literally play along in sync with the complete film. So Nosferatu is about 20 minutes (from memory) longer than the CD.

Depending how far you want to go, you could play along a soundtrack off a DVD restoration. For example you can get Nosferatu with the actual original score (not James Bernard), and if you have a varispeed projector, you can keep the film in sync with your projected print. I've projected this way at the NFT for some of the Photoplay restorations.

There are a few other silents that can be obtained on DVD or Blu Ray with the actual original scores (modern performances), such as Metropolis and Potemkin, though the versions of those films will be more complete than a small gauge copy, so won't synchronise exactly. Many years ago I did fairly successfully project an 8mm of Potemkin to the CD of the score. Tricky, but fun to try!

At the end of the day I actually often do a Dominique and just let the whirr of the projector keep me company!

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David Hardy
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 955
From: Johnshaven Village , Montrose, Scotland
Registered: Jan 2015


 - posted January 12, 2018 05:08 AM      Profile for David Hardy   Email David Hardy   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's correct Chris the original scores for Metropolis and Potemkin did resurface.

I remember seeing Metropolis with the reconstructed original score at a cinema in Aberdeen.

I find the music of the Finnish composer Sibelius is very suitable for the Russian classics of the silent cinema. [Smile]

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" My equipment's more important than your rats. "

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William Olson
Master Film Handler

Posts: 287
From: Poughkeepsie, NY USA
Registered: Jun 2010


 - posted January 12, 2018 10:25 PM      Profile for William Olson   Email William Olson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
In my younger days, I had an extensive collection of LPs including many film scores from sound features as well as classical. I would watch a film and make notes as to the mood of each scene. I would time scenes and select appropriate music. Then I would create a score on reel to reel tape. Synchronization was iffy but close enough. It was a lot of work and a lot of trial and error but it was fun.

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