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       M U S I C          T H E O R Y         O N L I N E
                     A Publication of the
                   Society for Music Theory
       Copyright (c) 1993 Society for Music Theory
| Volume 0, number 2      April, 1993      ISSN:  1067-3040   |
  General Editor                          Lee Rothfarb
  Co-Editors                              David Butler
                                          Justin London
                                          Elizabeth West Marvin
                                          David Neumeyer
                                          Gregory Proctor
  Reviews Editor                          Claire Boge
  Consulting Editors
	Bo Alphonce		Thomas Mathiesen
	Jonathan Bernard	Benito Rivera
	John Clough		John Rothgeb
	Nicholas Cook		Arvid Vollsnes
	Allen Forte		Robert Wason
	Stephen Hinton		Gary Wittlich
  Editorial Assistants                    Natalie Boisvert
                                          Cynthia Gonzales
  All queries to: mto-editor@husc.harvard.edu
AUTHOR:  Kosovsky, Bob
TITLE:  Commentary on Neumeyer's MTO 0.1 essay
REFERENCE: mto.93.0.1.neumeyer.art
File:  mto.93.0.2.kosovsky.tlk
I believe that the derivations of film music stem not so much from opera
or "serious music" (or "classical music" - whatever you want to call it --
the stuff you go to a concert hall to hear) but from more of the popular
idioms of the time.  Now granted, operatic and symphonic music were used
in abundance to accompany silent films (Ride of the Valkyries accompanied
the ride of the KKK in Griffith's BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) -- but so
were popular tunes of the day.  (Momentary excursis:  part of the problem
I'm having in separating classical from popular music genres stems occurs
from a time -- prior to WW I -- when such distinctions are not as clear
as they would later become.)
And I think that it's also not a question
of what was used, but HOW it was used.  Basing my understanding of silent
film music mostly on early sound films (those in which there was a 
syncronized soundtrack without dialogue -- and such films dating from the late
1920s and early 1930s, must represent an advanced stage of silent film
music compositional art -- e.g. DON JUAN (1926), SUNRISE (1927), even
CITY LIGHTS (1931)), I would say that the use of music is not really like
what you find in opera.  In fact, I would say that the use of music in
silent films probably bears a closer resemblance to music that was used
in Broadway shows.  When I first heard that recent recording of SHOW BOAT, I
was amazed to hear the unsung music ("background music" -- not in the 
Schenkerian sense!) because it worked in the same way as does the silent
films with music that I've seen.  Though the opera-to-movies path seems
tempting, I think the available evidence does not follow it.
One additional tangential note.  The usually-heard story about Schoenberg
and movies is based on the one from the biography by Willi Reich.  In
brief, it states that the head of MGM was considering Schoenberg as a 
composer for THE GOOD EARTH.  Schoenberg stated his conditions:  "I want
$50,000, and a guarantee that not one note will be changed" -- "Thus ends
the relationship of Schoenberg to the movies" says Reich.  But in fact
there must be more.  According to the catalogs of the Arnold Schoenberg
institute, there exists quite a bit of music written for THE GOOD EARTH
and for another film (of which I don't remember the title).  It would be
interesting to examine these sketches as evidence of how Schoenberg
envisioned the relationship of music to film, and to see how it relates
to the Begleitungsmusik, Op. 34.
Bob Kosovsky
Graduate Center -- Ph.D. Program in Music(student)/ City University of New York
New York Public Library -- Music Division
bitnet:   kos@cunyvms1.bitnet        internet: kos@cunyvms1.gc.cuny.edu
Disclaimer:  My opinions do not necessarily represent those of my 
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