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How does music in silent movies help tell the story?
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Since in silent movies the emotional or connotative part of a speech utterance, usually supplied by inflection, cannot be shown on a caption, the music supplies some of that aspect of spoken language: tension, tenderness, etc. Since music appeals to the listener in emotive ways, rather than in logical ways, the composer matches the musical phrase with the connotation: fast-paced music for hurried emotional responses (fear, danger, imminent action, etc.), langorous music for contemplative moments, whimsical music for flights of fancy, etc. Originally, the musician – usually an organist or pianist – had to “interpret” the sense of the movie scene by “translating” the speed, tension, etc. of the scene to a fairly limited musical repertoire. Later, audiences “learned” the “vocabulary” of the musical accompaniment, and the performer only had to play from this limited “vocabulary.
Posted by wordprof on September 22, 2013 at 5:41 PM (Answer #1)
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