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Good Music Absolutely Essential To The Screen Drama
Inventive Talent Kceps Pace With the Demand for Less Expensive Orchestration.
By Harvey Brougham
WAY back in 1697, William Con- tion and its great organ and large orchesA greve, greatest of English comedy
tra, representing an outlay that would writers, penned in his play of “The stagger a grand-opera impressario. Mourning Bride,” the ever famous lines:
They were heroes in their way--those “Music hath charms to soothe the savage pioneers of cheap popular amusement breast,
who converted tumbledown shacks and To soften rocks or bend a knotted oak." Two hundred years after Congreve de
tenantless stores into temples of a new lighted the players of old London, whose
art, and went ahead fearless of city fathers had known Shakespeare in the
ordinances, and the pestilential danger of flesh, music still sways humanity, and crowding hundreds of patrons into figura
tive rat-holes devoid of ventilation and Apollo of the golden lyre, divides honors in the theatres with the Muses of Comedy
calculated to burn up at a second's notice and Tragedy.
like a match-box. Their triumph was,
however, short. The law of the survival We have no less an authority for it than Hamlet that "the play's the thing.
of the fit, swept them into the discard. Shakespeare makes him say so when the
Most of them were notoriously unfit for Prince is planning to unmask his treach
the struggle for existence in a new art, erous step-father, but if the royal Dane
but they nevertheless blazed the way for could look in at one of our great movie
successors with more capital, more entertheatres, one of these evenings, he would prise, perhaps better brains and intelligent be likely to doubt the truth of his asser
determination to convert a fad in photogtion. The play—that is to say the screen
raphy into a legitimate and permanent
business. Cinema shows have play—is not more than half the performance, and it must be rather a good cinema
prominent place among the great enterperformance to score as heavily as that.
prises of the world. The aggregate capiThe music programme, contributes so
tal represented in picture production is much to the popular approval and enjoy
colossal. The erection of splendid theatres ment that an uninitiated spectator might
has even changed the business centers of be excused for exclaiming, "Why, this is
large cities, as in San Francisco. not a picture show—It's a concert!” But throughout all this evolution of pic
It is a very interesting study—this elab ture exhibition, music has steadily inoration of the "Mere movie” into a com
creased its utility in attracing the multiposite entertainment, which has no greater tudes. It may not be too much to say resemblance to the original model than a that motion pictures are practically infeeble crawling caterpillar to a gorgeous separable from music of some kind, and futtering butterfly. Cheapness was the if divested of it would lessen their popuchief recommendation of the original larity and perhaps pass into disuse. “Nickelodeon”, the unprepossessing an Music is the pulsating soul of screen piccestor of the splendid screen-theatre of tures. It imparts to them emotion and today, with its imposing architecture, its depth, and raises them above the level luxurious upholstery, its artistic decora of noiseless fleeting shadows that appeal
only to the eye, and gratify no other true sense. They are moved on a reel sense. Music therefore overcomes which is projected rapidly on the screen serious defect of the “silent drama,” by but the component parts of the photomaking it grateful to the ear as well as graphic reel are as devoid of motion as eye and thus giving it naturalness; for in ordinary kodak pictures.
The rapid life all motion is accompanied by sound. passage of the pictures projected on the
Human speech is sound systematized. screen completely deceives the human When the lips move in
speech the eye, much as a juggler by rapid passes of listener's sense of hearing is also aroused. his hands deceives the thousands of theaAn automobile picture can speed across tergoers, whose gaze is fixed intently on the screen in silence but in actuality a him. The human eye, wonderful as its moving motor car is a noisy object. The construction has its limitations, for the actual discharge of a pistol vibrates on reason that the act of observing anything
has never utilized music to the expensive break whereas an orchestra leader will extent of the cinema.
If the managers sometimes carry an inappropriate theme of large picture houses could dispense into a new scene rather than stop to turn with expensive orchestras, they would be over music books, and displease sensitive as slow to employ them as the legitimate stage.
The Fotoplayer type of instrument has The intelligence, originality, ingenuity
a keyboard much like a piano, but being and mechanical skill which is being em
equipped with a double tracker on which ployed to make music available for mil the ordinary music rolls are run it may be lions of cinema patrons is beyond concep
played as a regular piano, or run as a tion. Comparatively few houses can pay
player-piano. This patented double for large orchestras composed of highly tracker enables the entire instrument to be paid musicians. Mechanical substitutes controlled by one operator, who, while are indispensable. Modifications of the one roll is being played, can insert angreat and costly organs that require a
other and avoid all annoying pauses. A large theatre to house them and an artist
series of organ stops arranged above the of first-class ability to operate them, are
keys enables the instrumentalist to obtain beyond the reach of large numbers of organ or orchestra effects. picture places. But American ingenuity Along the front of the instrument there has been equal to that emergency. Me
are devices which the player can operchanical instruments that synchronize the ate so as to produce many soundsexpression of the music with the different pistol shots, gatling gun, crackling flames, degrees of action on the screen have been waves, door-bells, fire gongs, autohorns, developed with such efficiency that the sleigh bells, storms, etc., etc. All this picture exhibitor is poor indeed who can musical machinery is contained in one not furnish his patrons with a good sub case, about seventeen feet long, less than stitute for a satisfactory orchestra. It is four feet wide and five feet high. The gratifying to mention that in this line of compact little machine's pipes for orchesenterprise California is leading, just as tral effect consist of violin, cornet, fute, our favored State is ahead in the produc- Alute d'amour, and viol d'orchestra in the tion of screen attractions. The American treble; in the bass viol d'orchestra, Photo Player Company of San Francisco, cello, Aute d'amour, reed organ and pipes. New York and Chicago has made a won A picture house of small capacity emderful business and artistic success in the ploying one man can render a variety of manufacture and installation of musical orchestration from the emotional melody merchandise, suitable to the motion pic- of organ tones to the rattle and bang of ture industry. Artistic attainment in organ drum beats to a complete instrumental music devoted to photo plays, is rapidly registry from stop to trap. approaching the standard of symphonic For houses of larger resources the and organ recitals. The public has mani- Robert-Morton symphonic organ has been fested such a taste for this form of musi evolved. Played by one performer this cal expression that the American Photo
organ rivals a symphonic orchestra. Its Player Company is constantly increasing cmotional range is only limited by the the already large capacity of its factories musical sympathies of the performer at in California and Illinois. It has a large the console.
the console. This instrument, without plant at Berkelev and another at Van
any adjustment may be played by an Nuys and still the demand taxes the
organist as an organ producing both supply; so vast is the motion picture busi orchestral and cathedral effects, as deness in all its ramifications.
sired. Moreover it can be played with It has been found that versatile music rolls, or be utilized to augment the pianist and organist in a picture house, musical effect of an orchestra of four or by aid of one of those improved mechani five instrumental soloists, and reach imcal instruments has advantages over pressive symphonic proportions. The orchestra. He has the power to modu same company which has produced the late from one scene to another without a Fotoplayer, has worked in conjunction