Silent Film Music: A Brief History

Silent Film Music: A Brief History

This Friday, the ICO is collaborating with the Indianapolis Museum of Art to present a screening of the 1926 silent film, The Strong Man, with live orchestral accompaniment (if you haven’t gotten your tickets yet call 317-940-9607 or click here – it’s not too late!) .
 
Silent film is hardly silent. In fact, the term “silent film” didn’t even become a thing until talkies took over in the late 20’s and early 30’s. Silent film simply refers to a film that has no dialogue and has no sound effects embedded in the film itself. Music had always been used to accompany plays so using it to accompany silent films was a natural idea.
 
What was the purpose of music? Well, the live soundtrack replaced dialogue in conveying moods, emotions, ideas, plot development, transitions, sound effects and so on. Think about the last time you watched a movie and try to imagine it without music. Now try to imagine it without music or dialogue…it’d be tough to follow the story! Having a soundtrack was essential so the audience would understand the plot.
 
Since you couldn’t have a successful movie without a great soundtrack, the silent film era was truly the golden age of movie music. Silent film music, called Photoplay music, developed rapidly along with film technology and became a new and exciting musical field that composers took very seriously. Although at first heavily influenced by Romantic-era music, composers quickly developed their own styles and incorporated many different influences – from American jazz to European operas.
 
The history of silent film music is quite interesting and varied, and it’s impossible to cover all of the fascinating details. You can hear our version on Friday, so be sure to purchase your tickets for The Strong Man!
 
Buy your tickets online or call 317-940-9607!

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