To say that music plays a large role in our society would not do justice to one of the most important and popular art forms of yesterday and today. We underestimate the effectiveness and power that music, in any form , can have over even the most insensitive of people. In almost everything we do and see music is involved in some form or another. Be it a piece played at a wedding, a song played on the radio or even the music played in the background in a television commercial. The music is always there, reminding us of past experiences, making us smile and feel exhilaration and sometimes even making us cry. It is this power that music has over us that film score composers take advantage of when they are writing the music to accompany the movies. As listeners we often do not appreciate that the music that is scored for films or played in films is put there on purpose to create a certain feeling, emphasize a point, give more life to a character or sometimes to simply add humour. What the average moviegoer does not usually realize is that a great deal of time and thought goes into writing the score for a film and choosing the background music for a scene. None of the music is arbitrary; themes and sub themes have been created with specific ideas in mind and have been put in place only to add to the story and the characters. It is also important to acknowledge that the evolution into the type of film scoring that we are accustomed to today was not a quick or easy transition. It has taken almost a century to develop the specific techniques that are used in today's
films. When the first moving
pictures were seen they were known as silent films, although they were not actually silent. They contained a very primitive type of musical accompaniment that laid the foundation for what was to later develop. As time passed the type of music found in films developed into a fine art containing specific guidelines and techniques that most composers tend to follow. The average person does not usually pay astute attention to the music that is being used in a film, however, if it were to not be there the films would seem empty and as if something was missing. The actors, the writing and the direction is what is primarily noticed in a film but the music is the inconspicuous supporter of all of these elements. To create a film that will be effective it is essential that the film have a thoughtful score, and, as the audience, it is our duty to acknowledge the music in order to fully understand all that is being displayed to us in the film.
To realize fully the foundation of what we now recognize as an effective film score it is important to examine the music behind a silent film. No film was actually ever completely silent. There may not have been a soundtrack that we are accustomed to, however, the music was always essential to a movie, no matter how primitive it may be. In the earliest days of film the music was played on a phonograph. This was around the time of Edison. The phonograph was an invention that did not last long in the world of film. The next step was the use of a vitaphone, which also did not play a lasting role in the movie industry. The next step was not the use of a recorded soundtrack but rather it was the use of live musicians. The live music came about as the movies were becoming a little more common. The films began to be played commercially in Vaudeville houses, cafes, and music halls where musicians were already hired to play in the musical concerts that evening. Because the musicians were already there they were asked if they would play along with the film. In the Vaudeville houses there was no specific place for them to sit so they sat seated at the front , in front of the screen. Even after theatres were built to show the moving pictures a space was created at the front where the musicians were to sit. Because the musicians were inexperienced with accompanying...