Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History

Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History

by Julie Hubbert (Editor)

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Celluloid Symphonies is a unique sourcebook of writings on music for film, bringing together fifty-three critical documents, many previously inaccessible. It includes essays by those who created the music—Max Steiner, Erich Korngold, Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein and Howard Shore—and outlines the major trends, aesthetic choices, technological innovations, and commercial pressures that have shaped the relationship between music and film from 1896 to the present. Julie Hubbert’s introductory essays offer a stimulating overview of film history as well as critical context for the close study of these primary documents. Ícaro|Ícaro|Ícaro|In identifying documents that form a written and aesthetic history for film music, Celluloid Symphonies provides an astonishing resource for both film and music scholars and for students.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520241022
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 03/02/2011
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 1,013,428
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Julie Hubbert is Associate Professor of Music at the University of South Carolina.

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Celluloid Symphonies

Texts and Contexts in Film Music History

By Julie Hubbert


Copyright © 2011 The Regents of the University of California
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-520-94743-6


Plain Talk to Theater Managers and Operators


F. H. Richardson



So far as price goes a theater may be seated with opera chairs costing from as low as $1.25 each to as high as one wishes to go, a very comfortable, substantial seat being available at about $1.40 each. Upholstered seats are not desirable in moving picture theaters from any point of view. They would be a distinct disadvantage any way one might look at it. The audience remains seated such a comparatively short time that the non-upholstered seat, provided it be properly made, is perfectly comfortable and in Summer it is much cooler also. Second-hand chairs are often available at very low figure, but you should either see them or have a guarantee in writing as to their size, condition, etc., with privilege of examination before paying if shipped from a distance. Theater seats should always have a wire hat holder beneath the seat and on the back of each seat should be affixed a very small ring or staple through which the ladies may thrust a hatpin to hold their headgear instead of being obliged to hold them in their laps. Two small staples, one one-half inch above the other, are best. You will probably have to throw a slide on the screen calling attention to the arrangement until the ladies become accustomed to it. You will find it will be highly appreciated by ladies who remove their hats. Advertisements in The Moving Picture World will put you in touch with manufacturers of theater seats who will send prices, descriptions and illustrations of the various style seats.

One very essential and important feature in seating is to utilize all available space, but at the same time not get the rows so close together that the user will experience discomfort. The requirements of Chicago will serve as a safe guide in this respect. It is as follows: 32 inches from chair back to chair back. Chicago law is good to follow in the matter of aisles also. It calls for aisles 3 feet wide if more than one and 4 feet if but one. Taking the above as a basis to measure seating capacity of a room, proceed as follows: Measure from the stage to the point you wish to locate your front row of seats. From this point measure to the point where the rear of your last row of seats will be. Multiply this measurement by 12, to reduce to inches, and divide by 32. The last result will be the number of rows. Next measure the width of the room and subtract width of the aisle, or combined width of all aisles if more than one. Multiply remainder by 12, to reduce to inches, and divide the result by width of chair you propose using, which may be 18, 19 or 20 inches. Next multiply the number of rows by the number of seats per row and the result is the seating capacity of your room. Of course if length of all rows is not the same you will have to subtract the deficiency of short rows or else measure all rows separately, adding all together and dividing by chair width. Theaters having curved rows will undoubtedly have an architect's floor plan to figure from. All theaters should have a sloped floor. The day of the flat floor is past. Such a house is hopelessly out of date and behind the times. What this slope will be will necessarily depend somewhat on how much you are able to get if the installation be in a building already erected. All the slope you can get up to the point where the rows of chairs must be on steps is an advantage. The best floor slope result the writer has seen is a newly constructed Chicago moving picture theater. The floor is of cement and the slope is about 5 feet in 50. There are two ways to getting a slope in an old flat floor room, viz.: Build an incline on top of the old floor or drop the front end of the old floor down into the basement. The latter is much the best where it can be done. The first named plan has the disadvantage of requiring a slope from the entrance up to the new floor level. Never use steps for this, since in case of panic people would certainly pile up on them and many be injured or killed. They are not likely, however, to fall on an incline, even though it be quite steep, especially if it be carpeted with heavy coarse matting, securely nailed down.

As regards seating plans, I think it would be somewhat a waste of space to elaborate upon them. The main thing is to have long rows of seats unbroken by an aisle, and so arrange your exit, which in all cases should be entirely separate from the entrance, so that there will be the least possible congestion when the crowds are passing out. It is by far the best, where it can be so arranged, to have the exit at the opposite end of the house from the entrance. This is in some cases possible where there is an ample passage between the theater building and the next adjoining, provided it be not a public alley. This plan relieves all congestion caused by interference between people coming in and those passing out. In ordinary storeroom theaters the central aisle plan is almost invariably the best. Where it is practicable to have a center aisle and one at either side, it is a most excellent plan to use the center aisle exclusively for persons passing out, the incoming ones being steered into the side aisles, none being allowed to enter the center aisle. As the people usually do not come in big bunches, the side aisles, where this plan is adopted, may be comparatively narrow. Where there are long rows of seats unbroken by an aisle, it is dangerous in case of panic; also it is annoying to patrons, in that late comers have to crowd past many seats to reach center seats in the row. In picture theaters, the further the front row of seats is from the curtain, the better, since when one is very close to the curtain, all sense of perspective is lost; moreover, the picture is little more than a blur. It is much the best to locate the piano in a pit in the center under the curtain or stage front, since the piano player then has a constant view of the picture without effort. This is essential, if he or she is to produce the best results in following the film action with music. Carpet all aisles with heavy matting or linoleum. The sound of people walking on the bare floor is very annoying to an audience. The curtain should be at such height, if possible, that the head of a man standing at the front row of seats will not interfere in the picture. As regards picture size, there is no rule. It depends on the house entirely. But it may be said that the picture should, if possible, be at least ten feet wide. A picture twelve feet wide is called life size from the fact that in this size there are a greater percentage of life-size figures than in any other. From twelve to fourteen feet in width usually makes the best appearing picture. Unless it is absolutely necessary, do not throw the top of the picture clear up to the ceiling. It does not look so well as when there is a margin of from six inches to two feet. After all other cleaning is done for the day, every seat should be carefully dusted. There is nothing more annoying to a lady in a light-colored dress than to find her costume soiled by a dusty theater seat. It amounts to an outrage.


Music is a matter of greater importance than many moving picture theater managers seem to imagine. Get a good piano player, who can read any music at sight and make him or her attend strictly to business. Pay a salary which will justify you in demanding the best work and then see to it that your player makes good. A piano player who cannot read music at sight has no rightful place in a moving picture theater, especially if illustrated songs are run. But the song is a comparatively small matter. Always and invariably the piano player can help out a film wonderfully if he or she wants to and knows how. Often and often have I entered a theater while the film was running and seen the piano player industriously engaged in talking to a friend, dividing her attention impartially between the friend and a wad of gum. He or she would have got busy or been fired in just one minute had I been managing the house. The piano player should have a wide range of "know it by heart" music; should watch the picture closely and play suitable music, with due attention to producing as many of the noises as is practical with that instrument. There is no reason, where a drummer cannot be employed, why an auto horn, a chime bell and a whistle cannot be manipulated by the piano player. They can easily be attached to the instrument within easy reach, and such things help. A piano player can do much if he or she wants to and mighty little if he or she don't want to and don't have to. Of course you will have to pay more for good service, but it pays to do it.

Where the house has seating capacity to justify there should always be a drummer. But get a good one. A good drummer can perform wonders in adding to the effectiveness of a film, but a poor one is worse than none. The up-to-date moving picture theater drummer has contrivances for imitating almost any sound and he knows how to use them, too. It may be safely said that any 300 capacity house which has available capacity business should have a drummer and piano player. More need not be added except in large houses. I feel that I cannot impress too strongly on managers the advisability of getting all you can out of the available music.


Incidental Music for Edison Pictures



How the Landlord Collected His Rents

Scene 1—March, brisk

2—Irish jig

3—Begin with andante, finish with allegro

4—Popular air

5—" "

6—Andante with lively at finish

7—March (same as No. 1)


9—Andante (use March No. 1)

The Ordeal

Scene 1—An andante

2—An allegro changing to plaintive at end


4—Adagio or march changing at end to allegro strongly marked

5—Andante to plaintive, changing to march movement at end

6—Lively, change to plaintive at Fantine's arrest

7—March with accents to accompany scene finishing with andante


9—Allegro, to march at arrest

10—March, changing to andante at end

11—Slow march, p.p.

12—Andante p.p. hurry at action of putting passport, etc in fire

13—March p., changing to f.f. at the entrance of Jean Valjean, the Mayor

14—Andante to Javert's entrance, then a hurry till the Mayor tears off the piece of iron from the bed. Adagio to end.

'Tis Now the Very Witching Time of Night

Scene 1—Lively at start, marked march at finish

2—Andante, tremolo

3—" " change to pizzicato at ghosts

4—Pizzicato crescendo and decrescendo

5—Andante to donkey scene, mock march to skeletons then hurry

6—Hurry, pizzicato

7—Same as No. 1

True Love Never Runs Smoothly

At opening, Andante P.P.

Till boy gets horse loose from wagon, Hurried movement

Till buggy strikes water, Allegro

Love and War

Scene 1—Allegro


3— "

4—Waltz at start, pause at entrance of orderly. Note—drum at cannon shots indicated by the start of surprise form all characters, stop the waltz and begin andante same as No. 1, till plaintive at exit of officers.

5—Same andante blending into same plaintive for finale

A Knight for a Night

Scene 1—Lively ("He's a Jolly Good Fellow")

2—" " "

3—Andante at start, to pizzicato at change



6— "


8—Andante, change to hurry at finish

9—Andante to allegro at change

Why Girls Leave Home

At opening, Popular air

Till second scene, Pizzicato

Till view of orchestra seats, Regular overture

Till view of stage is shown, Waltz time

Note—Knock at door till girl starts to leave home, Home Sweet Home.

Till audience applauds, Lively music

Till Act 2, snow scene, Plaintive

Till audience applauds, Lively music

Till Act 3, bridge scene, Pizzicato

Till gallery applauds, Lively music

Till Act 4, heroine's home, Plaintive music

Till hero bursts through window, Lively, work to climax

Till next set, girl's return home, Waltz movement


Jackass Music

Louis Reeves Harrison


Civilization is not a crab, but theatrical managers walk sideways if not backwards when they allow their musicians to play the wrong accompaniment to the right composition whether of sound or picture. O, what a noise when the lights are turned low and Lily Limpwrist takes her place at the usual instrument of torture. With a self-conscious smirk she gives a poke to her back switch, dabs her side teasers with both patties, rolls up her sleeves and tears off "That Yiddisher Rag." She bestows a clam smile on the box-of-candy young man in the first row, but the presentation on the screen fails to divert her "I-seen-you" glances any more than if it was the point of the joke.

The chorus-girl who attempts to pose as a prima-donna with little more equipment than a tuft of bleached hair, a pair of high-heeled slippers and a cigarette voice can be tolerated, we often endure the howling and screeching of a Tommy trying to sing "Come into the garden Maud," but when Lily Limpwrist assails our unprotected organs of hearing with her loony repertoire it seems a shame to throw away ten cents on such a performance, to say nothing of the time wasted. We sit patiently through the act of an imported star, who commends to our attention the interesting intelligence "Me Rag, moy Bess used-ter droive em cryzy at the Croiterion," we submit to the inanities of the chin-whiskered pillow-paunched Dutch comedian, who says: "Vot it is, is it? Ask me," and we even tolerate the Irish comedian, shaved yesterday, who looks like an undertaker out-of-a-job when he wails in a hold-over voice: "Where thuh dear-ol Sha-hamrock gurrows," but there is a limit.


Excerpted from Celluloid Symphonies by Julie Hubbert. Copyright © 2011 The Regents of the University of California. Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents



1. F.{ths}H. Richardson / Plain Talk to Theater Managers and Operators (1909)
2. Incidental Music for Edison Pictures (1909)
3. Louis Reeves Harrison / Jackass Music (1911)
4. Eugene A. Ahern / from What and How to Play for Pictures (1913)
5. Clarence E. Sinn / Music for the Picture (1911)
6. W. Stephen Bush / The Art of Exhibition: Rothapfel on Motion Picture Music (1914)
7. Edith Lang and George West / from Musical Accompaniment of Moving Pictures (1920)
8. George Beynon / from Musical Presentation of Motion Pictures (1921)
9. Erno Rapee / from Encyclopaedia of Music for Pictures (1925)
10. Two Thematic Music Cue Sheets: The Thief of Bagdad (1924) and Dame Chance (1926)
11. Hugo Riesenfeld / Music and Motion Pictures (1926)
12. Publishers Win Movie Music Suit (1924)



13. New Musical Marvels in the Movies (1926)
14. Musicians to Fight Sound-Film Devices (1928)
15. Mark Larkin / The Truth about Voice Doubling (1929)
16. Jerry Hoffman / Westward the Course of Tin-Pan Alley (1929)
17. Sigmund Romberg / What’s Wrong with Musical Pictures? (1930)
18. Verna Arvey / Present Day Musical Films and How They Are Made Possible (1931)
19. Stephen Watts / Alfred Hitchcock on Music in Films (1934)



20. George Antheil / Composers in Movieland (1935)
21. Leonid Sabaneev / The Aesthetics of the Sound Film (1935)
22. Max Steiner / Scoring the Film (1937)
23. Erich Wolfgang Korngold / Some Experiences in Film Music (1940)
24. Denis Morrison / What Is a Filmusical? (1937)
25. Aaron Copland / Music in the Films (1941)
26. Harold C. Schonberg / Music or Sound Effects? (1947)
27. Theodor Adorno and Hanns Eisler / The New Musical Resources (1947)
28. Arthur Knight / Movie Music Goes on Record (1952)
29. Elmer Bernstein / The Man with the Golden Arm (1956)
30. Louis and Bebe Barron / Forbidden Planet (1956)
31. James Hillier / Interview with Stanley Donen (1977)
32. Alan Freed / One Thing’s for Sure, R ’n’ R Is Boffo B.O. (1958)



33. June Bundy / Film Themes Link Movie, Disk Trades (1960)
34. Eddie Kalish / Mancini Debunks Album Values (1961)
35. Herrmann Says Hollywood Tone Deaf as to Film Scores (1964)
36. Gene Lees / The New Sound on the Soundtracks (1967)
37. Renata Adler / Movies: Tuning In to the Sound of New Music (1968)
38. Ennio Morricone / Towards an Interior Music (1997)
39. Harvey Siders / Keeping Score on Schifrin: Lalo Schifrin and the Art of Film Music (1969)
40. BBC Interview with Jerry Goldsmith (1969)
41. Harvey Siders / The Jazz Composers in Hollywood: A Symposium (1972)
42. Steven Farber / George Lucas: Stinky Kid Hits the Bigtime (1974)
43. Elmer Bernstein / The Annotated Friedkin (1974)
44. David Raksin / Whatever Became of Movie Music? (1974)



45. Susan Peterson / Selling a Hit Soundtrack (1979)
46. Craig L. Byrd / Interview with John Williams (1997)
47. Terry Atkinson / Scoring with Synthesizers (1982)
48. Marianne Meyer / Rock Movideo (1985)
49. Stephen Holden / How Rock Is Changing Hollywood’s Tune (1989)
50. Randall D. Larson / Danny Elfman: From Boingo to Batman (1990)
51. Interviews from The Celluloid Jukebox (1995)
52. Philip Brophy / Composing with a Very Wide Palette: Howard Shore in Conversation (1999)
53. Rob Bridgett / Hollywood Sound (2005)


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