Monday, February 15, 2010

Classification of Music

In this week's column, Sinn features a number of musical suggestions provided by readers. He also published a letter from a reader requesting a list or catalogue of music classified by musical topic. Sinn in fact had not only considered the idea, as he mentions in his response, but had actually produced such a list, which he supplied to readers upon request in the early days of his column. For the purposes of his column, Sinn points out that he adopted the expediency of well-known exemplars that could stand in for their type. In fact, about this time (1913) catalogues did begin to appear, first as appendices to early "how to" manuals, then as formal publishers' catalogues (most notably Fischer's Analytical Orchestra).

Miss Dittmar is here again with her usual good offering. I hope it is in time to be of service to those who may have occasion to play for this picture, as it appears to be well balanced, thoughtful, and in every way worthy of the subject it accompanies. She says: “Inclosed [sic] find my program for ‘The Crimson Cross’ (Éclair). It might be of help to some one.”

First Reel.
  1. “Pilgrim’s Chorus” (Thannhauser).
  2. “Prayer from ‘Der Freischütz’” (Weber).
  3. “The Rosary.”
  4. “Consolation” (Leschetszky).
  5. “How Lovely Are the Messengers” (from Saint Paul).
  6. “Gloria from the Twelfth Mass.”
Second Reel.
  1. “The Agony” from “Crucifixion.”
  2. “Procession to Calvary” (Crucifixion).
Mysterious and Agitato until end of reel.

Third Reel.
  1. Several bars from introduction to “Otello,” very softly, then a few bars of “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.”
  2. “The Heavens Are Telling.”
  3. “Funeral March” by Tschaikowsky.
  4. “How Lovely Are the Messengers” until end of reel.
A splendid accompaniment. I would suggest that it might be easier for another to use if you had given an idea of where to being and stop each number, taking cues from the action or from sub-titles appearing on the screen. Anyhow, the constituency is your debtor.

* * *
J. D. S., Nebraska, says in part: “Can you give us a list of classified music (not dramatic) in your suggestions. For instance, some suggestions for music say ‘play —, or —, or —.’

“Now it seems that a list of music might be made out in which all music of the same character might be placed under the same head, thus enabling a person to choose from 25 or 50 numbers if he doesn’t happen to have the particular one called for.”

I want to say to J. D. S. that this question occurred to me when I first began contributing to this page three years ago. It seemed to me that considering the countless musical numbers on the market and in various libraries (and possibly no two pianists in the world have libraries exactly alike), a long list of numbers similar in character would fill more space than its importance would warrant. I therefore chose several numbers of different character, all of them well known, and let each one stand as a representative of its class. For example, Schumann’s “Traumerie” is presumably well enough known to give any pianist an idea of the character of music intended. Knowing this, he might play that number or substitute any similar piece of music he chose. The same may be said of [Braga's] “Angel’s Serenade,” and [Rubenstein's] “Melody in F.” I believe these three numbers are sufficiently well known to represent any number of similar pieces a pianist may chance to have in his library. Novelettes are so much alike it is seldom necessary to specify any particular one, though when a correspondent mentions titles his program of course appears as he sends it. Bendix’s suit of four: “Longing, Parting, Meeting and Reconciliation” I have also mentioned freely, not because I don’t know any others, but because they are good representatives of their class of music, are fairly well known and easy to get. The “Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffmann” [Offenbach] might be taken as representative of another class; Gautier’s “La Secret,” and Delibes’ “Pizzicato from Sylvia Ballet” may be taken as typical allegretto movements from scenes calling for something light, rather lively and not so noisy as a march (for example) might suggest. About all of the old standard music is published in cheap form by some one or other and is easily obtainable at small cost. I take it for granted that the average pianist is more familiar with these as a whole than with the more recent publications—that is, that these numbers are more widely known. For that reason alone I have thought it advisable to stick pretty closely to well-known pieces in my suggestions for music to the pictures, believing it would be intelligible to a larger number of readers than if I tried to choose new programs of up-to-date music for them. Your plan is all right so far as it goes, but it would take quite a large catalogue to hold a list that would be useful to all and for this reason would not be expedient in our limited space.

* * *
The Selig Polyscope Company are making into pictures some of the successful satires of Chas. T. Hoyt, which were so popular a couple of decades ago. The first one to be released is “The Midnight Bell.” This is a comedy with a little melodrama running through it. The music is mostly of a lively nature, and as the characters are all of the “Down East” country type I would suggest that “barn dances” and “rube” music generally would help to carry out the atmosphere of the story. Suggestions for music are here offered:

Part One.
  1. Any “Barn Dance” until title: “Steve and Ned Are Rivals.”
  2. Chorus of “My Irene Is a Village Queen” (Remick) once. (Von Tilzer’s “Sun Bonnet Sue” my be substituted. Not important.)
  3. “Daly’s Reel” (not too fast), or any similar “rube” tune, until title: “Steve Decides to Rob the Bank.”
  4. Light mysterious music (not too pronounced) until: “Next Morning.”
  5. Agitato pp. until title “Lemuel Tidd, Justice of the Peace.”
  6. Any intermezzo for neutral scenes until: “The Squire’s Lawyer Is Called From Boston.”
  7. Short Waltz—about 16 bars—just enough to make a change of music for this scene; until title: “Nora Resents, etc.”
  8. “Parting” (Bendix-Witmark), until: “Afraid of Being Caught, etc.”
  9. Mysterious until end of reel.
Part Two.
  1. “Chicken Reel” (by Daly), or “Barn Dance,” until: “The Entertainment at the School House.”
  2. “Well, I Swan” (Rube song pub. by Witmark), until telegram is shown; then a few bars of moderato (leading to next movement) until title: “Stop, My Uncle Is Innocent.”
  3. Light Agitato. After he coasts down hill, a short strain of “rube” music may be introduced for comedy business to end of scene. Then back to agitato and continue until: “The Sewing Society.”
  4. “A Good Old-Time Straw Ride” (Witmark), or any lively music suggestive of country scenes; until: “Leave My House Immediately.”
  5. “Meeting” (Bendix-Witmark), until: “But As a Citizen of These United States.”
  6. “Turkey in the Straw” until: “After Choir Practice.”
  7. First strain of “Meeting” until Steve enters Church.
  8. Long Agitato. A church bell effect is used in this number. Play until crowd enters church and Steve is arrested.
  9. Lively intermezzo until: “The Minister’s Faith in Nora Is Restored.”
  10. Any Novelette until end of reel.
* * *

“THROUGH THE TEST OF FIRE” (Great Northern).
Part One.
  1. Waltz Lento (long) until Count leaves Goldstein’s room.
  2. “Apple Blossoms” or any similar slow “Reverie” until: “After the Wedding.”
  3. Waltz until “Bride and Groom Depart.”
  4. Novelette until: “The Factory Workmen Have Arranged.”
  5. Lively music—work up to gallop as runaway horse is seen; crescendo till Jack falls, then:
  6. Short plaintive (about 16 bars).
  7. Allegretto (“La Secret” by Gautier or “Passion” by Helf & Hager), until end of reel.
Part Two.
  1. “In the Shadows” (Finck) until: “Jack Advises His Comrades to Strike.”
  2. “Entr’Acte Gavotte” (Gillet) until: “Eight Days Later.”
  3. Pirouette—“Pas Seul” (Finck) until: “A Few Days Later.”
  4. Waltz until she is seen on bridge.
  5. Agitato—p. Work up to f; till both men knocked down.
  6. Waltz until: “Mr. Goldstein Is Killed in the Explosion.”
  7. Hurry p. and f. (fire scene) until: “Count Hardegg Has Inherited a Vast Fortune.”
  8. Pirouette until: “No, I Will Not Leave My Husband.”
  9. “Reverie” until: “Youthful Arrogance.”
  10. “The Flatterer” (Caprice by Chaminade), or some light allegretto; work up faster in agitated manner as action develops—until men exit. Then:
  11. Intermezzo until end of reel.
Part Three.
  1. Any novelette until: “The Workmen Press Their Claims.”
  2. Agitato—p. and f. until they ride through crowd and exit.
  3. “Love In Idleness” (Carl Fischer) until: “Let Me Stay With You, Dear.”
  4. Short Waltz one scene.
  5. Hurry (fire scene) till: “I Will Find Your Husband.”
  6. Change to heavier hurry until both men come out of burning building.
  7. Plaintive until wreck is seen burning, then hurry (fire scene) until end of reel.
Source: Clarence E. Sinn, “Music for the Picture,” Moving Picture World 17 May 1913, 693-94.