The Sounds of Early Cinema

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Overview

This is the first book devoted exclusively to a little known phenomenon: the ubiquitous presence of sound in early cinema. "Silent cinema" may rarely have been silent, but the sheer diversity of sounds characterizing the first twenty years of moving pictures still can astonish us, from barkers and ballyhoos to pianists and orchestras. These twenty-five essays cover a broad range of subjects, including sound practices in production, sound-related exhibition practices film music, and the politics of sound reception.

Author Biography: Richard Abel is Ellis and Nell Levitt Professor of English at Drake University, where he teaches cinema/media/cultural studies. His most recent book is The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900-1910 (California, 1999), which was a finalist for the Kraszna-Krausz Moving Image Book Award. Currently he is editing the Routledge Encyclopedia of Early Cinema.
Rick Altman is Professor of Cinema and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa. After publishing Film/Genre (British Film Institute, 1999), which won the SCS Katherine Singer Kovacs award, he edited a special issue of IRIS 27 (Spring 1999) on the "State of Sound Studies." His current projects include a book on the silent cinema soundscape, a DVD devoted to illustrated song slides, and performances by his troupe, The Living Nickelodeon.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253339881
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Pages: 344
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Abel is Ellis and Nell Levitt Professor of English at Drake University, where he teaches cinema/media/cultural studies. His most recent book is The Red Rooster Scare: Making Cinema American, 1900-1910 (California, 1999), which was a finalist for the Kraszna-Krausz Moving Image Book Award. Currently he is editing the Routledge Encyclopedia of Early Cinema.

Rick Altman is Professor of Cinema and Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa. After publishing Film/Genre (British Film Institute, 1999), which won the SCS Katherine Singer Kovacs award, he edited a special issue of IRIS 27 (Spring 1999) on the "State of Sound Studies." His current projects include a book on the silent cinema soundscape, a DVD devoted to illustrated song slides, and performances by his troupe, The Living Nickelodeon.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1 Early Phonograph Culture and Moving Pictures 3
2 Doing for the Eye What the Phonograph Does for the Ear 13
3 Remarks on Writing and Technologies of Sound in Early Cinema 32
4 "Next Slide Please": The Lantern Lecture in Britain, 1890-1910 39
5 The Voices of Silence 48
6 The Event and the Series: The Decline of Cafes-Concerts, the Failure of Gaumont's Chronophone, and the Birth of Cinema as an Art 57
7 Dialogues in Early Silent Screenplays: What Actors Really Said 69
8 The First Transi-Sounds of Parallel Editing 79
9 Sound, the Jump Cut, and "Trickality" in Early Danish Comedies 87
10 Setting the Pace of a Heartbeat: The Use of Sound Elements in European Melodramas before 1915 95
11 Talking Movie or Silent Theater? Creative Experiments by Vasily Goncharov 110
12 Sleighbells and Moving Pictures: On the Trail of D. W. Robertson 121
13 The Story of Percy Peashaker: Debates about Sound Effects in the Early Cinema 129
14 That Most American of Attractions, the Illustrated Song 143
15 "The Sensational Acme of Realism": "Talker" Pictures as Early Cinema Sound Practice 156
16 "Bells and Whistles": The Sound of Meaning in Train Travel Film Rides 167
17 The Noises of Spectators, or the Spectator as Additive to the Spectacle 183
18 Early Cinematographic Spectacles: The Role of Sound Accompaniment in the Reception of Moving Images 192
19 Sounding Canadian: Early Sound Practices and Nationalism in Toronto-Based Exhibition 198
20 The Double Silence of the "War to End All Wars" 205
21 Domitor Witnesses the First Complete Public Presentation of the [Dickson Experimental Sound Film] in the Twentieth Century 215
22 A "Secondary Action" or Musical Highlight? Melodic Interludes in Early Film Melodrama Reconsidered 220
23 The Living Nickelodeon 232
24 Music for Kalem Films: The Special Scores, with Notes on Walter C. Simon 241
25 The Orchestration of Affect: The Motif of Barbarism in Breil's The Birth of a Nation Score 252
App. A Les Voies du silence 271
App. B L'Evenement et la serie: le declin du cafe-concert, l'echec du Chronophone Gaumont et la naissance de l'art cinematographique 279
App. C Les transi-sons du cinema des premiers temps 289
App. D Les bruits des spectateurs ou: le spectateur comme adjuvant du spectacle 295
App. E Le spectacle cinematographique des premiers temps: fonctions des accompagnements sonores dans la reception des images animees 303
App. F Le double silence de la "derniere" guerre 309
Contributors 317
Index 321
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