Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Carl Fischer Motion Picture Music Guide, Part 2

This is a continuation of a summary of the Carl Fischer Motion Picture Music Guide. The first part is located here. Though not as useful for planning out programs for films as Seredy's 1929 Analytical Orchestra, which included timings and keys, the 1922 Motion Picture Music Guide carried little passages of advice for the musical director. A set of these have been gathered below:

Dramatic and Romantic Moving Picture Situations

Romantic and dramatic photoplay situations are in the most cases either psychic (emotional, without much action), or physical (in which emotion is expressed in movement). In "romantic situations, where love, hatred, anxiety, despair, horror, ecstasy, etc., are shown by facial registration and with little or no bodily movement, dramatic maestosos, lentos, adagios or andantes are best employed; while in scenes of physical violence or agitation, bodily struggles, encounters, etc., agitatos, hurries and furiosos are the proper musical mediums of expression. In both "love scenes" and "fighting scenes" absolute synchronization, it need hardly be said, is a first requisite. In the last-named, fifteen second "let downs," with only a dynamic change in the music are often decidedly effective. (p.9)

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Music and Pictures

"A successful musical interpretation is as necessary to a picture as good projection." The truth of this maxim, born of experience, cannot be denied. Music in the Motion Picture show provides "atmosphere" and establishes mood. It infuses the mute action of the motion drama with the life of tone and harmony. Properly used, it may be made to take the place of the spoken word, and underline every detail of picture acting and registration with appropriate tonal comment, explanation or emphasis.

But music should never be considered an accompaniment to the motion picture, it should be apart of it. In this fact, accepted in theory and carried out in practice, we have the gist of music success in the "movies." Synchronization is its secret—the welding of picture movement and music movement, the matching of picture mood with music mood, the merging of picture and music in a unit of effect.

And the object of this Guide is to provide the musician with the means for realizing this ideal, an ideal which means personal success for him, as well as the artistic success of his work. (p. 15)

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The Use of "Tacet"

In very many instances "tacet" can be used to good effect. We quote the prize fight scene in Charles Ray's picture "SCRAP IRON" as presented at one of the largest New York Theatres. Realism was introduced by the sounding of a gong at the beginning and end of each round. The fighting was spirited and entirely held the interest of the audience. Music was not necessary, and was not missed. At the end of each round, as the gong struck, the orchestra played a lively number, which then tended to serve as a relaxation. "Tacet" can also be used during funeral processions provided it does not cover too great a space of time. A funeral is generally sad enough without being accentuated by a dirge or depressing music. (p. 31)
Source: Julius S. Seredy in collaboration with Chas. J. Roberts and M. Lester Lake, Motion Picture Music Guide to the Carl Fischer Modern Orchestra Catalog Indicating All the Themes and Motives Suitable for Motion Pictures and Showing their Practical Application to the Screen (New York: Carl Fischer, 1922).