The cinemas are filled with CGI Blockbusters now. But before there was fake everything, before there was colour film, and even before there was actual recorded sound for public exhibition, there was… a guy with a piano.
The era of the silent film is, sadly, long gone. And with it went an unsung profession. In ever Movie Hall there was a man or woman who sat just off to the side of the screen, in the dark, playing rousing music to put over the action of the heroes and heroines of the heyday. They kept the audience on the edge of their seats!
The background Music From the Silent Films LP, featuring Spats Holloran, will bring this bygone era back to you in full melodic force:
This LP was possibly released in the 1960s when such music, and the experiences of the Movie Halls, was not so long in the past.
It’s fun to see Mr. Holloran depicting what it might have been like back then. Cigarettes and a beer in a smoke-filled theatre? You bet! Second-hand smoke hadn’t been invented yet and Cancer was still just an astrological sign.
Each silent film didn’t have its own soundtrack. The pianist just played slow or fast when the scenes on the screen called for it. But there were certain basic themes that could be played and replayed as similar scenarios were acted out. For instance, see if you don’t recognize this old riff:
No doubt you saw in your mind’s eye a man dressed in black with a long mustache. Was he tying a screaming lady onto a railway track? No doubt!
Kent Hi-Fi released this LP through ARC Sound Ltd.
Thanks for joining me for this look into the history of film through the music of the Silent era. Now if you will excuse me, I think I may have contracted a bronchial infection just from imaging myself in the cloudy Movie Hall! I may need to seek medical help.