Thursday, July 23, 2009

Advertising Music and Playing Parallel Editing

Martin begins this week's column with a suggestion to use music as part of advertising the theater. He includes a sample ad for his home theater in Keokuk, Iowa. Perhaps in response to Sinn's column the previous week, Martin then turns to the issue of playing to scenes with parallel editing, a common difficulty for musicians of the time. The basic question was: when scenes alternate, should the players change music to reflect the change in scenes or should they maintain the same musical number so as to avoid abrupt shifts in music. Finally, Martin ends this week's column with brief paragraphs on using popular songs as accompaniments and on whether music should be played between shows.
When you take in consideration the number of people that come to your theatre to hear the music as well as to see the pictures, you will agree with me when I suggest advertising your musical part of the program as strong as you do the pictures. Of course, there are things to be considered: if you have run over a certain reel and find it to be a poor production you would not think of using any printers' ink on advertising the same. On the other hand, if you have some good feature picture that will get you the money by using a few inches in the local papers, you will take a chance and boost that certain picture. It is the same thing with your music, if your musicians are making good with your patrons, they are as much of a drawing card as the pictures and should have their share of publicity.

Advertising is the life of any business if used to the best advantage, but poor advertising is worse that none at all and only proves a detriment to your business. If you have good musicians, people who are playing the pictures boost them the same as you do your pictures and you will soon find it will mean money in your pocket, for as soon as you start advertising your musicians, the patrons will give more attention to their work, and when your patrons awake to the fact that the musicians are playing the pictures, you will find that you have a permanent drawing card.

The advertising copy on this page is an example of the way the Dodge theatre company, of Keokuk, Iowa, boost their musicians, and I believe their method of advertising in the local papers has gone far towards building up the capacity business that continues throughout the entire summer and winter season.

It is true that different conditions prevail in different towns, and possibly it would be money lost to advertise a picture show in some localities; nevertheless, if you have never tried this method, a few weeks' advertising in your local papers would be an inexpensive experiment and might prove to be the upbuilding of your business.

You will find that the advertising will help you in more ways than one, for if the musicians see that you are boosting their work and featuring the music they will work harder towards playing the pictures.

During the past week I have received a great many letters from musicians and the suggestions and inquiries have been a great help to me as they have brought up many points that often arise in playing the pictures. I think the most important question was in regard to a scene in the Pathe production of "Abraham Lincoln's Clemency," the piano player called my attention to the scene where there is a battle raging in the background and to the front of the picture is the hero who has been mortally wounded. The question was, "Should you continue loud heavy music in keeping with the battle, or soft pathetic music for the death of the hero?" This is a situation that often arises, you will find such double scenes in many pictures, and as a rule I would suggest that you keep your music in touch with the central figure or attraction, but in this particular scene I would suggest that you have the drummer carry out the scene of battle by a roll on the base [sic] drum throughout the entire scene, and the piano player play appropriate music for the death of the hero, by doing this I believe it will be as near correct as the scene can be worked out, and I think the contrast in the music should make a very pleasing effect.

Since this scene has been suggested to me I recall a similar scene in the Kalem picture "The Touch of a Child's Hand." In this picture you will remember the scene where the insane father is shown on the porch with a knife in his hand, the audience is in suspense as to whether he is to kill the rich man or the child of the rich man, and the scene shifts several times, first showing the insane man on the porch then showing the interior of the rich man's home. As the scene changes so quickly and often, I would suggest that you keep up the creepy music through the entire scene. The creepy music in this particular picture and scene not only suggests the insane man's intentions when he is shown on the porch, but when the interior of the rich man's home is shown it suggests the danger that is about to befall the rich man or his child, and as they are unaware of the oncoming danger the music makes a great contrast to the scene.

The Kalem release of November 25 "The Roses of the Virgin" is a good example where popular selections can be used to good advantage. In the scene where Pierre's mother takes the roses from the garden it would be very appropriate and pleasing to play "The Garden of Roses," or "Just Like the Rose." Then at the close of the picture where the mother appears before the shrine you will find it will help the scene by playing "The Rosary" until the close of the picture.

In another letter I received last week I was asked to suggest some good music to play between the shows. This question is easily answered. I do not believe in playing between the shows. As a rule the intermission is very short, you will seldom find a wait of over six or eight minutes, during this short time the people are passing in and out and there is usually so much confusion and noise that I hardly believe music would be appreciated. I believe if you will take a rest during the intermission the audience will appreciate your work a great deal more when you start playing the pictures. In next week's article I will devote most of my space to answering the numerous questions I have received In the last couple of weeks.
Source: Clyde Martin, “Playing the Pictures,” Film Index 24 December 1910, 28.