The Silent Movie Music Poll

Let’s talk about music, specifically, silent movie music. Few subjects are more controversial than musical accompaniment but this is your chance to voice your opinion with a simple vote.

Not too much explanation is needed. Come, see, vote. I’ll post the results next week. Enjoy, pets!

If you’re having trouble seeing the survey, here is a direct link to it. Click and vote.

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Remember, I couldn’t include every option under the sun but I tried for the more common ones. I hope you enjoy the poll!

18 Replies to “The Silent Movie Music Poll”

  1. I loved the Techno scores on “The Penalty” et al. The only thing I really dislike is the random music-on-a-loop that some companies bung on to a film. When it comes to vocals, I enjoy a theme song, but who chose that one in “The Man who Laughs”?. As for “I found Gold when I found You” in “The Trail of ’98”? I was tickled pink!

  2. I can deal with all kinds of scores as long as they are in service to the movie. The ones that bug me are the ones that treat silent movies as nothing more than an exotic visual backdrop — for example, the time Katie-Bar-the-Door and I went to see “Intolerance” and wound up with Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up” playing through the climactic montage. It wasn’t so much the fact that I kept thinking of the end of “The Matrix” as that the beat and rhythm were not attuned to Griffith’s cutting, and that that sort of boot-stomping power metal didn’t fit the mood of the story playing out on the screen. Kept taking me out of what should have been the payoff of what is a very long movie to begin with.

    But it doesn’t have to be rock n roll that can take you out of a movie. I’ve seen a couple of Chaplin pictures accompanied by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. The music is right on the money — Chaplin wrote it, after all — and the performance is great, but the venue is actually pretty lousy for watching a movie, with a tiny screen high above the orchestra. Can you say “pain in the neck.”

    The consistently best place for hearing a live performance with a silent movie is the AFI-Silver in Maryland. Anything from a guy on a piano or an organ, to a small combo. They’ve had singing and sound effects, you name it.

    One of the most interesting was seeing Douglas Fairbanks’ “Robin Hood” accompanied only by instruments and tunes that were available in 12th century England.

    But always, whatever the style of music, the AFI’s scores draw you into the movie — which is ultimately the point of a musical score.

    1. Definitely agree with you. I love modern scores myself but I do so hate it when the musicians treat the silent movie as a free music video. The infamous Variete score should stand as a warning on that account. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. My hometown of Rochester NY is home to the George Eastman House’s Dryden Theater. They have frequent showings of silent movies, several each month, usually advertised “with live piano accompaniment by Philip Carli”. Carli has been accompanying silent movies for decades, is a master of the art, and has us Rochesterians thoroughly spoiled when it comes to silent movie music. His smartly adept musical counterpoints to the screen action have come to be what I expect now, so that I wince at the clunky inept accompaniments that turn up on some videos.

  4. Ah, I just love polls! Well done once again, Fritzi. ๐Ÿ˜€
    Full orchestra is my personal favorite, I adore beautiful strings paired with one of my favorite silent movies… but music isn’t a must. If the score/instrument isn’t to my taste…well, I tend to turn the music down low, get wrapped up in the movie and forget the soundtrack.

  5. I picked organ because my fondest silent movie memories are associated with it. I consider it a major coup to see a movie with its original score when possible, but I have greatly enjoyed the work of Ben Model, Jon Mirsalis, Stuart Oderman, Frederick Hodges, and others. Actually, a live score trumps a canned score, whatever the instrumentation or accuracy.

  6. Some of the best scores I’ve heard came from music not even available during the silent era, so it’s a double edged sword for me. On one hand there’s great modern scores worthy of their own CD, on the other I actually have a film that sounds like it’s score was composed on Mario Paint.

    1. Yeah, I am very pro-modern myself. The most important thing (at least to me) is that the score has to work AS A SCORE, whether designed for a silent film or a talkie. It’s amazing how many accompanists forget this.

  7. I’m okay with modern scores as long as they don’t sound like a three year old banging on the pots and pans.

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