Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Illustrated Songs

This editorial appeared in Moving Picture World at the end of 1908. The item notes that the illustrated song is an important part of the program and urges better coordination between the slides and the song. The final paragraph offers advice on hiring singers.
As an adjunct to the moving picture exhibition, illustrated songs are becoming of increased importance. Perhaps this assertion does not apply with equal force to every illustrated song. But if the intentions of those who illustrate songs are carried out, there is no reason why they shouldn’t become an important department of the picture show business.

Perhaps the most important criticism is that the slides frequently used do not illustrate the songs. Often they bear no apparent relation to the words or the sentiment of the song, and this is noticed in some of the higher priced places.

Slides bearing the trade-mark of well-known makers are quite as derelict in this as are those which bear the trade-mark of makers less known. Some which have evidently been prepared at heavy expense are not by any means suitable illustrations for the songs with which they are shown.

A beautifully colored slide, in which the posing of the figures and the general arrangement is beyond criticism, but which bears little relation to the song, will not attract. The two must go together. Slide makers can improve upon this if they will. The sentiment of the songs is too strongly marked to permit such wretched attempts at illustration as have passed through the hands of some slide makers recently.

The singer should be as good as can be afforded. Of course, it is understood that the audiences which attend moving picture shows are not looking for Pattis or Carusos, but, after all, singers can be obtained who have good voices and who can interpret a song reasonably well. Inasmuch as the songs are sung in the dark the action of the singer makes little difference. The voice and the slides should both be good.
“Editorial: Illustrated Songs,” Moving Picture World 12 December 1908: 472.