invention of the "talking picture," all movies
were completely silent. The infusion of music into the
film venue is speculated to have happened for many reasons.
Music was already a commonplace element in the theatres
and it was brought over to films not only because of tradition,
but to add a depth to the two-dimensional image that appeared
upon the screen. An added benefit was that it covered
up the cacophony of noise that spewed from the projector.
of silent films were accompanied by anything from full
orchestras to organists and pianists. Books of music were
published to provide the accompanists with ideas for scene
music, categorized by mood, event, or element. Many of
the films came with a "suggestion list" of what
music to play in which scene.
It was Birth
of a Nation that was the first to have a score compiled
specifically for it.
With the advent
of the talking pictures, music once again established
itself as a vital element in the film industry. At first,
sound films followed the precedent set by their ancestors,
using compiled "western music" (Classical music,
usually from the 19th century.) This practice
soon gave way, however, to the creating of original scores.
Max Steiner wrote the first completely original score
for King Kong in 1933.
Though at first,
music was used primarily as simple reinforcement, towards
the latter half of the decade, the composers began to
experiment and to develop their own style of unobtrusively
supporting the film’s plot and characters.
In the 1940s,
composers refined their expertise even more. One of the
most important and influential composers was Bernard Herrmann,
who broke many barriers and traditions to create music
that greatly enhanced the films for which he wrote.
Up until the
1950s, film music had been entirely symphonic. In the
1950s, however, Jazz opened the industry up to a vast
and new world of possibilities. Although it had been used
for musicals and animated films, it had never been used
in mainstream genre films of the 1930s and 1940s. The
use of Jazz not only "contemporized" the sounds
and theme of movies, but fewer musicians were needed,
thus making orchestration less expensive.
The use of
jazz and other experiments continued on into the 1960s.
It was in this decade that acceptance of new music led
to the scoring of INSERT TITLE HERE, the first movie to
use a rock soundtrack.
The 1970s passed
with very little new innovation. The decade was spent
perfecting things learned in the previous decade. People
such as John Williams created scores using these techniques
that are highly memorable, even today.
and the 1990s
The first widespread
use of synthesized sounds in films occurred in the 1980s
and film scoring once again underwent a major revolution.
For the first time, it became theoretically possible to
score an entire film with only one performer – using the
synthesizer to produce the sounds of many instrumentalists.
This advent (echoed in the general music world) caused
popular songs (specifically contemporary rock music) to
become the basis for entire scores.
the daily development of new technology and the general
knowledge gained from a century of experiences, film composers
have the ability to create the perfect score – accenting
the movie’s plot and characters in such a way that it
enhances the film and turns it into an experience.