Re: default silence versus intended silence

From: Myron Ort (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Oct 28 2009 - 16:04:02 PDT

default silence. showing a "silent" film without providing either
the intended music or default music and/or sound effects over and
above the ambient noise of the theater.

intended silence. indicated on the film or not, the understood
intention of the filmmaker. ambient sound by default.

default sound. use of whatever sound or music that seems to best
satisfy the showing situation, non specified or improvised,
unavoidable sound in the showing venue.

intended sound. ranging from performances of provided scores to the
modern sync. system.

Stanley Brakhage apparently noticed a "silent sound sense" in some
early films, perhaps indicating that those filmmakers had edited or
otherwise constructed their films to have this sensibility regardless
of the usual later addition of music in the theaters (specifically
intended or otherwise).
In other words, some early filmmakers did not rely on the "crutch" of
added sound to put the gloss on the art and rhythm of their cinema in
spite of realizing that "soundtracks" would later be added to their
films in the eventual showings. They usually did not, however, want
to exclude this addition and in fact sometimes had a hand in the
musical compositions to be used (in addition to their "silent sound
sense"). Thus, I am thinking, that a "silent sound sense" film does
not necessarily preclude the use of sound as an (additional) option
although it is possible and even likely that unless great creative
effort is involved that the casual use or careless use of added sound
could harm the filmmakers intentions especially if this "silent sound
sense" is intensely prevalent in the film and was specifically
designed to preclude added music from its inception.

(just thinking out loud here..... open for discussion)


*There were 3 eras of silent film, leading to a major misconception
about quality. The first era was the flickers, which lasted from
1900-1915. These were one reel (10 mins or so) films that had simple
plots and began very crudely but evolved with the years especially
thanks to D.W. Griffith. During this time actors were thought
disposable and plot as an afterthought. 1915-1923 ushered in the
feature (which had existed for a few years but was really brought
into its own by Birth of a Nation) which began more experimenting and
longer but still slightly clunky films (mind you they were inventing
this new medium at that time!) By 1923 films began to become more
refined and until the majority of silent films ended in 1928 these
were some of the finest films ever made. It would take talkies
several decades to reach the same greatness as these films. These
films are much like watching a modern film, there is no talking but
they are so refined they are easy to enjoy.

*Silent films were never ''silent''. This is a HUGE misconception.
When flickers first came into vogue they were silent for a few
months, but eventually nickelodeons began adding either phonograph
music or a live accompanist. By the time features came around films
began to send out their own scores (Griffith started this one too).
 From then on they were accompanied by a live pianist or organ
player, and sometimes a full orchestra! You never just sat in pure
silence watching a silent film. Random side note: in addition to a
score most silents had a theme song, which also started with Birth.
These were very popular and were sold as sheet music. The first

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