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Additional resources for Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History
Beynon devotes three chapters of his manual to thematization of the score. In “Proper Presentation of Pictures: The Theme and How to Use it” (Document 8), Beynon not only discusses ways of implementing a thematic approach, but he also acknowledges the aesthetic implications of doing so. A thematic approach to film accompaniment does more than underscore mood and tempo, he asserts; it reinforces narrative unity and structure as well. A repeated melody allows the images on the screen to be interpreted by recalling previous imagery.
109–32. 10. Ibid, pp. 116, 178. 11. George W. Beynon, Musical Presentation of Motion Pictures (New York: Schirmer, 1921), part II: “The Evolution of Picture Music,” pp. 3, 4. 12. See Rick Altman, “The Silence of the Silents,” Musical Quarterly 80, no. 4 (1996): 648–718. Since Altman first launched his argument, others have supported the thesis that “silence” was indeed one of the possible accompaniments that early cinema received. See Francois Jost, “The Voices of Silence,” and Stephen Bottomore, “The Story of Percy Peashaker: Debates about Sound Effects in Early Cinema,” in The Sounds of Early Cinema, ed.
One part of this impulse to automate sound, however, survived in the sound-effects “machines,” which were not only mechanical but also, it was hoped, more realistic than musicalized sound. 14. For a detailed history of the rise of the nickelodeon in early cinema exhibition, see Musser, Emergence of Cinema, pp. 417–447. See also Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 1907–1915 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 1–20. 15. Musser, Emergence of Cinema, pp. 335–369. Musser discusses in detail the transition to “story” fi lms that a number of production companies made between 1903 and 1904.