Photoplay Music Starter Kit

Everything related to researching, scoring and performing music with silent film.
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Rodney
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Photoplay Music Starter Kit

Unread post by Rodney » Wed Sep 02, 2020 8:55 am

During the pandemic shutdown, I've been working on a project I've been wanting to do for years.

The Photoplay Music Starter Kit, by Rodney Sauer.

This is a curated collection of over 90 orchestrated pieces that come from the libraries of silent film theaters. These are the building blocks of creating "compilation scores," which is how I've created over 125 film scores for the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra over the last 25 years.

This kit is intended for musicians who want to try out this interesting and remarkably efficient method of silent film scoring, but don't have access to a library of the music. The pieces work with any ensemble ranging from solo piano or organ to a large theater orchestra, and is adequate to score any typical silent feature film.

The Photoplay Music Starter Kit includes my introduction to silent film score compilation, including a discussion of the "variable orchestra," tips on compiling a score and rehearsing your ensemble, a database of the pieces included, and the pieces in PDF format. I've scanned them in black-and-white for clean printing, and made them as complete as possible.

I would love to get some feedback on this, so let me know if you find it interesting or useful.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"

R Michael Pyle
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Re: Photoplay Music Starter Kit

Unread post by R Michael Pyle » Wed Sep 02, 2020 9:15 am

This is incredible, Rodney! And it's seminal in the study of silent music scoring and scores. Some day in the near future college courses will be taught using your introductory material, hopefully in conjunction with courses on the history of silent film in context with all film history. The use of music in film is NOT always a function of such courses, which, in my opinion, loses the full context of film in how it psychologically appeals to the viewer.

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oldposterho
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Re: Photoplay Music Starter Kit

Unread post by oldposterho » Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:15 am

Absolutely fantastic. Kudos and thanks!
Peter

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boblipton
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Re: Photoplay Music Starter Kit

Unread post by boblipton » Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:19 am

It's a beautiful idea, Rodney, and I salute you for it. Alas, eight years of piano lessons more than half a century ago, and ten years of trying to play the banjo twenty years ago, left me a dub: clumsy, slow hands.

Any objection to some one converting these into MIDI files?

Bob
The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.
— L.P. Hartley

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Rodney
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Re: Photoplay Music Starter Kit

Unread post by Rodney » Wed Sep 02, 2020 11:48 am

boblipton wrote:
Wed Sep 02, 2020 10:19 am
Any objection to some one converting these into MIDI files?
No, go right ahead. Most (thought not all) of these are in the public domain, so they're yours as much as mine. (There's a section in my write-up about copyright, if you want to be squeaky clean.)

If you just want to know what they sound like, some of these have been recorded by us and others. And the piano/conductor reduction can give a good idea of the piece without having to score the whole thing (and having to deal with transposing instruments, which is always fun).

And if, while transcribing or performing a piece, anyone comes across typos, let me know. I've corrected the ones I've encountered, but I'm sure there are plenty I've missed. The purpose of this collection is to be useful in performance, so I don't want to preserve "historical" mistakes in the transcriptions. Those are preserved with the originals in the archives if anyone ever wants to study them.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"

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Rodney
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Re: Photoplay Music Starter Kit

Unread post by Rodney » Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:50 pm

I've updated the Photoplay Music Starter Kit with twelve recordings of the pieces in the kit.

These all come from recordings that Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra has made over the past 15 years or so.

Let me know if you have trouble playing them on any particular browser.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"

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