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Author Topic: Silent film music
Gary Baker
Film Handler

Posts: 34
From: Glasgow, Scotland
Registered: Apr 2017

 - posted February 16, 2018 02:04 AM      Profile for Gary Baker   Email Gary Baker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Folks,

I've been going through one of my periodical silent film kicks recently, mainly on dvd. It's still a marvel to me being able to see once difficult to get hold of pre-sound pictures in their entirety. That being said, while I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Curtiz's early FX spectacular 'Noah's Ark'and the John Barrymore Moby Dick adaptations 'The Sea Beast,' I felt the supplied music left something to be desired, especially in The Sea Beast. Many scenes suffered from musical clashes that took me out of the film and the generic audio had clearly been tacked on without much thought.

I plan to run some 8mm features soon and was wondering what music if any people could recommend as general background tracks? Previously I've found classical pieces like Handells Messiah are nicelym dramatic and often synch up pleasingly well at certain moments. The one CD of silent film music I possess is a bit too modern synthy for my taste.

I'm going to be watching 'The Lost World' and 'The Phantom of the Opera.'

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Melvin England
Jedi Master Film Handler

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

 - posted February 16, 2018 05:17 AM      Profile for Melvin England     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For The Phantom of The Opera you could try (for one of the sequences at least) Toccata by Sky. You would recognise it from the first three notes.

When I transferred some of my silent home movies to dvd via computer, I found that the first thing to search for is a piece that runs the same length as the film (makes it appear more professional). Once you have several contenders, it is just a case of picking the one with the right mood,pace etc. As you have mentioned, instrumentals / classical music does have this knack, often, to appear to have been written for the film in question, reaching a high point at the right moment or changing pace on cue with another scene.

Good luck with your choices.


"My name is for my friends!"

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Mike Spice
Master Film Handler

Posts: 421
From: none of your business
Registered: Jun 2017

 - posted February 16, 2018 08:08 AM      Profile for Mike Spice     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
when I was a lad....
I was very lucky to have a large collection of Boosey & Hawkes 'library music' records.
I used to spend hours choosing 'newsreel' style tunes to accompany my films for the 'family film show.

Back then I had a reel to reel tape recorder synced to the Eumig.

These days I make a lot of video on youtube and still use library music. if often gets ignored by the 'content id' system so I manage to get away putting music on my films at youtube.

I guess it depends where you intend to play the music, if it is private home use, then choose what ever tunes make your pictures 'sing'
If it is for online, then your choices are limitied, the you tube 'music library' is really awful imo

Either way, have fun, and bring your films to life with music!
Whatever tunes you do use, you will know when the music fits the pictures.... so much fun putting music to pictures.

My favorite 'film' (video really) with old library music

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James Wilson
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 230
From: Norwich, UK
Registered: Jan 2015

 - posted February 16, 2018 08:41 AM      Profile for James Wilson   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott Joplin,
was used a lot for silent films but beware of copyright.

James Wilson

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Gary Baker
Film Handler

Posts: 34
From: Glasgow, Scotland
Registered: Apr 2017

 - posted February 20, 2018 04:35 PM      Profile for Gary Baker   Email Gary Baker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks gents!

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