It’s almost a cliche now but it’s worth repeating. Silent films were never silent. Music remains an essential component of the silent film experience and that is our topic of discussion today. We are going to salute the talented men and women who create the music of the silent movies.
It’s happened to the best of us: We purchase a shiny new silent film, start to watch it and only then discover that the release is bad, bad, bad. Maybe the thing was transferred at the wrong speed. Maybe the soundtrack is atrocious. Maybe some genius decided to re-tint the thing and now it looks like you are watching a movie that had a Jolly Rancher melted onto the print, we’re talking eyeball-searing.
It is commonly said that the phrase “silent movie” is a misnomer. To be properly appreciated, a silent movie needs appropriate musical accompaniment. But what is considered to be an “appropriate” type of music? No two silent film fans are going to quite agree on that but here are some basic guidelines.