Sound at the Film Society

John Riley

in The Sounds of the Silents in Britain

Published in print December 2012 | ISBN: 9780199797615
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979738 | DOI:
Sound at the Film Society

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This chapter describes the soundscapes of selected performances at the London-based Film Society and examines the reasoning behind some of its decisions concerning the sonic presentation of films. With a guaranteed income from subscriptions, the Film Society operated from a number of London cinemas from 1925 until 1939, and under club conditions showed films that they felt were artistically or technically worthy but had little commercial prospect or that risked censorship. The society’s financial stability enabled it to experiment with accompaniments and to employ approaches that might have proved unacceptable in commercial cinemas. These ranged from the conventional (pianists, orchestras, or records) to the less usual (speakers or complete silence), and single performances often embraced some permutation of these.

Keywords: cinema accompaniment; cinema music; Film Society; London; avant-garde; left-wing; propaganda; Edmund Meisel; Ivor Montagu

Chapter.  8358 words. 

Subjects: Popular Music

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