Poll Results: Your favorite silent movie music

Last week, I asked my readers to vote in a little poll to determine which types of silent movie music were the most popular. Well, my accountants at PricewaterhouseCoopers have been hard at work, counting the results on adding machines and wearing those cute eye shades.

Or I just pressed a button and got the results from PollDaddy. Which story do you believe?

bare-knees-wink-winkSo, here are the results of my super scientific (not scientific at all) internet poll!

You like the orchestra!


While the different choices were not separated by a whole lot, you showed a definite preference for orchestral scores. The lowly organ, beloved by Harold Lloyd, sadly took its place in fourth. (sniffle)

You like tradition!

music-authenticityThe top two places were taken up by modern scores using period music and actual period music like Vitaphone scores. I should note that in order to get me to listen to a Vitaphone score, you will have to drag me into the theater kicking and screaming. One more jaunty tango during a death scene and I swear I’ll…

(I am a well-known supporter of modern silent movie scores but, alas, I seem to be a rarity.)

No singing, please.

music-vocalA whopping 72% of you said that you would prefer no vocal music in a silent film score. (Vitaphone and Movietone scores used vocal music liberally, it was a great way to sell tie-in sheet music. Movie trends come and go but marketing is forever.)

But go ahead and honk.

music-sound-effects59% of you voted in favor of sound effects in silent movie scores. So bang, clang and honk to your heart’s delight!

Good music is nice but it’s not make or break.

music-enjoyment68% of you feel that good scores are important but a film can survive a bad one. A significant 25% of you feel that the score can ruin a film and you won’t sit through a bad one. 7% of you are about the images and can ignore bad music.

So there you have it. Thanks so much for voting in this poll! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

8 Replies to “Poll Results: Your favorite silent movie music”

  1. This was interesting. I have watched silent films with such horrible music that I turned off the sound and played classical music with the film. I had a wonderful experience last year…it was shown in a church…the Passion of Jean D’Arc by Dreyer and the music was a small ensemble piece with Chorus Niagara…it was one of my highlights in my life…it doesn’t take much.

      1. Criterion releases almost always do right by their viewers when it comes to music. Their von Sternberg collection has two scores for each film, which makes me very happy.

  2. Regarding sound effects: as one who has (ahem) laid many in my earlier days, I believe that what is excluded is as important as what is included and that, broadly speaking, a “see a dog, hear a dog” style is awful, even if obligatory up to a point in modern sound films.

    But gunshots certainly need to be heard and such FX as creaking doors that build suspense are nice to hear in “silent” films.

    I understand that many theatre organs of silent days had an arsenal of sound FX in their mechanisms, must have been fun to hear.

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