Gottfried Huppertz's metropolis: the acme of 'cinema music'

Audissino, Emilio (2016) Gottfried Huppertz's metropolis: the acme of 'cinema music'. In: Today’s Sounds for Yesterday’s Films: Making Music for Silent Cinema. Palgrave Studies in Audio-Visual Culture. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 45-63. ISBN 9781137466358

Full text not available from this repository.


There is a basic difference between the music of the silent film era and that of the sound film era. Music for sound films is a material part of the film: the music is printed on the film-strip. Music for silent films was not: the film-strip had no soundtrack. Played live and liable to change from one screening to another, music was rather a part of the film-viewing experience. In Peter Larsen’s words, ‘the music of the silent film is not film music in the modern sense — it is cinema music, an external addition to the moving pictures, part of the total performance more than part of the film and its narrative.’ I take Larsen’s distinction here primarily as a periodization concerning the physical placement of the music: in the case of sound films, the music is on the film(strip) and thus called ‘film music’; in the case of silent films, the music is in the cinema(s), played live, and thus called ‘cinema music’. We may also think of the distinction as one based on the viewers’ experience of the music as a part of the film narrative or not — with ‘film music’ being experienced as more narratively integrated with the film, and ‘cinema music’ being experienced more as a silence-filler of the film projection rather than a constituent of the filmic system. The combination of the material/period-based and the narrative/function-based interpretation makes the classification a bit more complicated.

Item Type: Book Section
Identifier: 10.1057/9781137466365_4
Subjects: Film and television
Depositing User: Emilio Audissino
Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2016 11:29
Last Modified: 28 Aug 2021 07:19

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item