Movie Pictorial (March 1915)

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MOVIE PICTORIAL 21 £\ T | ft -r,.- ■ . . ■ ■ - Axt. .]■ -i^jLL^ UN .j. /U Iwll The Music Story lllwl Editor’s Note: This Department was commenced in the October issue. It is for imr readers, an arena for discussum of musical topics as then apply to the exhibition of moving pictures. Every reader having ideas along this line, criticisms or suggestions, will confer a favor on the alitor of this department by writing to her. Different views, different discussions and new practical ideas will appear in each issue of Movie Pictorial. SHORT time ago I viewed the Twenty- third, or final Episode of “The Million Dollar Mystery.” This was in one of the highest class and most popular moving picture theaters in Chicago. During the wedding scene, the mu- sician played “The Anvil Chorus” from “II Trovatore.” Whether he had con- fused it in his mind with one of the wedding marches, or thought that it was a clever idea, I could not say. I did hear numerous remarks regarding it. It was an unpardonable incongruity. It was like rasping a file over one’s nerves. I heard this same musician a great many times and ordinarily his music harmonizes with the pictures. Following are some of the letters that have been received from music lovers: It’s a Long, Long Way to Harmony Kenton, Ohio. Dear Music Editor: We recently had the beautiful colored Pathe film entitled “More Than Queen.” In a par- ticularly pathetic scene (the Queen’s little son thrown from his horse), the physician is bend- ing over his bedside. The mother in her mute agony awaits his verdict. Just at this tense moment, imagine my horror and surprise when our pianist rapidly began playing "Tipperary,” and several equally rattle-brained youths in the audience started singing it. The scene was utterly ruined. I had instructed her to play softly either “The Rosary,” or “Hearts and Flowers,” and to play “Tipperary” when the soldiers were marching. She reversed my orders and ruined the picture. (MRS.) L. B. STEVENSON. This reminds me of some friends of mine who were sending out some circulars. They had worked on these circulars very patiently and had decided to have certain lines in red and the balance in black. Plates were made by the printers, but when it came to the press work, the order was reversed. Naturally, the effect of the printing was lost. It is very easy to see from the description given in the above letter that the “Tipperary” episode made ridiculous what should have been very solemn. Mrs. Stevenson’s musical instructions were excellent and entirely in keeping with the theme. Overdoing Popular Stuff Birmingham, Ala. Dear Music Editor: “Tess of the Storm Country” has been shown in one of the theaters of this city. The music, which consisted of a piano and an attached keyboard of an organ, played ordinary popular songs, which was not in har- mony with the picture shown. I think that “Anitra’s Dance,” by Grieg—also “In the Hall of the Gnome King,” by the same author, would furnish the right effect to the picture. There’s charm, wilderness and beauty mixed, as Mary Pickford, the actress of same, represents. I have noticed “Idlio,” by Lack, being played for “It’s No Laughing Matter,” and is not suit- able at all for it. They could have played in- stead, “Humoresque,” by Dvorak, or Paderew- ski’s “Minuet,” or even ragtime, if there was lack of better stuff. HENRY GRUSIN. The above letter written by Mr. Grusin, bears out a point that I have referred to in the past on this page. A great many players think that the titles of popular songs must necessarily fit in with the theme of the picture story. While some of the titles of popular airs are in harmony with their music, this is usually the exception rather than the rule. THE MUSICAL INTERPRETATION OF MOVING PICTURES By Mabel Bishop Wilson In one of the recent song hits, the words “soldier” and “shoulder” are supposed to rhyme. The word “supreme” and “fifteen” are also used as a counter- feit on a rhyme. Even the broadest poetic license would not countenance such errors, and yet they are mild compared with the dissimilarity between many of the titles and the music. There is nothing more disconcerting than to view a picture having a mystic air when the music is all light ragtime stuff. Children may not notice the difference, but certainly the majority of grown- ups must feel the difference. Music of that nature keeps the audience from getting the best out of a picture. It is not necessary to define the rasping clash between picture and music. One feels it. Many a good photoplay is harmed or ruined by the musical accompaniment. Many a poor photoplay is made acceptible by the accompaniment. “Tangoing” a Tragedy St. Louis, Mo. Dear Music Editor: “Mother Love,” a heart drama in two chap- ters of three parts each. The deacon denies his young wife her babe, and drives her out. Angered that she finds friends, he sends her a box of white crepe, with the message: “Same as are used when babies die.” The anguish of the mother is terrible. The orchestra played tango and ragtime music throughout the pic- ture. It was very disconcerting. A pathetic song or tragic air would have been appropriate. K. H. The letter by K. H. again brings out this point that we cannot present too frequently. There is a place for ragtime. There is a place for all music. Like everything else, it should remain in its place. Winner of the $5 Prize Movie Pictorial will award the $5 prize to Mrs. L. B. Stevenson. The reason her offering has been selected as the best is because she had previously chosen the music that was to be played to the Pathe film. She has given a very definite and clearly defined example of what can happen if orders are not carried out. No matter what excuse the musician herself might give, that excuse could make no difference in this award. I admit that a musician, like anybody else, may commit mistakes. The person who is playing con- tinuously may become confused. This is par- ticularly true when one is ill. At the same time the people in the audience are not paying their money to tolerate these inexcusable mistakes of those who are to entertain them. The Musician Is an Actor I think that it is a well recognized principle that a theater musician should be considered as an auxiliary actor. All those who contribute to the success of a play are auxiliaries to it. On the legitimate stage, any mistake of the property man may ruin the performance. I recall an instance when a stock company was playing Shakesperean drama in Milwaukee. The particular play was “Romeo and Juliet.” Juliet was on her balcony which was back of a high, iron fence. The ornate gate of this fence was locked. Romeo came along with his guitar. The stage set- ting was very pretty. There was always a thrill of expectancy while Romeo climbed over the fence and into the yard. On this particular night, when he was on top of the fence, he fell, and he and the fence were precipitated to the stage. From that moment on the audience refused to accept the play as serious, and the curtain was finally rung down. The property man, the stage manager, the elec- trician and the musician were all auxiliaries. The photoplay theater is a theater just the same as the legitimate playhouse even though its dramas are shown upon the screen instead of behind the footlights. The musician, therefore, is really more important than he or she would be in a regular theater. The musician owes a certain debt to the audience. Trying to palm anything off as appropriate music will not do. There must be a definite idea. Every picture theater musician should strive for perfection. There is certainly enough choice in the matter of musical selections to meet with the individual desires of any player. To go to the extreme is inexcusable. To make glaring errors is unpardonable. Questions and Answers The average picture play will contain anywhere from thirty to possibly eighty scenes to each reel. The projecting machine throws sixteen separate pictures, on the average, on the screen each sec- ond, or nine hundred and sixty separate pictures a minute. A single reel contains about one thousand feet, and the time required to project it is about sixteen or seventeen minutes. Thirty scenes would mean a change of scene about every thirty seconds on the average. Flashes, cut-backs and titles will last only a few seconds each. Too frequent change of music, therefore, would not be advisable. Following are some of the questions and answers that will prove of interest not only to the persons who sent the questions in, but also to all others in- terested in picture play music. Q. Where a title or sub-title is thrown upon the screen, and the same scene continues after as shown before, should there be any change in the music? A. Although titles and sub-titles are usually sup- posed to precede scenes, there are very frequently inserts, such as a letter or a telegram. The same strain should be continued although the tone may be subdued throughout the showing of the insert. While it is an interruption in one sense of the word, we must remember that in long scenes the insert is simply making the meaning of the scene more clear. It is possible that an insert or a title break- ing into a scene might change the entire theme of the scheme, and necessarily the accompaniment. By way of illustration let us say that the scene shows a party of young folks laughing and playing and singing and dancing. A telegram is received by one of the party, and when that telegram is flashed upon the screen in the form of an insert, it states that the young man’s mother has just died. The scene is then continued, but instead of gaiety there is a hush. Some are horrified and others are expressing their sympathy. But if the scene continued the same as before, and if the in- sert did not interrupt the harmony of the scene, then the music would remain as it had been. Q. I should like to know how you would play a scene in which there is a fade-in—perhaps just showing the face of a young man’s sweetheart. That scene fades out and then another fades in, showing him with the girl on some outing. That scene fades out and next fades in showing a grave, which is presumably her grave. Would there be change of music with each fade-in and fade-out? A. The young man presumably is in a medi- tative mood. He is dreaming of the past. These various scenes are in harmony with his attitude and mental state. The same strain might be sub- dued with a more pathetic fade-in, but would not necessarily have to change. Q. I should like to know how you would play a picture that begins with the scene in a club-room where one of the clubmen starts to tell a story to his friends. There is a fade-out of the club scene and a fade-in of the scenes concerned with the story. This inside story may be entirely different from what has preceded it, and it may pass long through a great many scenes. A. The fade-in, in which the telling of the story is shown by having it acted out, is just the same as any change of scene. The music would necessarily have to follow the theme of that new story. Finally, when the scene returned to the club, the music would be altered to fit in with the atmosphere of the club as well as with the mental effect the story had produced upon the listeners.