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After the Silents

Hollywood Film Music in the Early Sound Era, 1926-1934

Michael Slowik



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Columbia University Press
21 October 2014
Many believe Max Steiner's score for King Kong (1933) was the first important attempt at integrating background music into sound film, but a closer look at the industry's early sound era (1926?1934) reveals a more extended and fascinating story. Viewing more than two hundred films from the period, Michael Slowik launches the first comprehensive study of a long-neglected phase in Hollywood's initial development, recasting the history of film sound and its relationship to the Golden Age of film music (1935?1950).

Slowik follows filmmakers' shifting combinations of sound and image, recapturing the volatility of this era and the variety of film music strategies that were tested, abandoned, and kept. He explores early film music experiments and accompaniment practices in opera, melodrama, musicals, radio, and silent films and discusses the impact of the advent of synchronized dialogue. He concludes with a reassessment of King Kong and its groundbreaking approach to film music, challenging the film's place and importance in the timeline of sound achievement.
By:   Michael Slowik
Imprint:   Columbia University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 20mm
Weight:   539g
ISBN:   9780231165839
ISBN 10:   0231165838
Series:   Film and Culture Series
Pages:   400
Publication Date:   21 October 2014
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Michael Slowik is assistant professor of television, film, and new media at San Diego State University. His work appears in Cinema Journal; American Music; The Journal of American Culture; Journal of Popular Film and Television; Music, Sound, and the Moving Image; Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film; and Quarterly Review of Film and Video.

Reviews for After the Silents: Hollywood Film Music in the Early Sound Era, 1926-1934

Slowik not only sketches out the important trends and developments of this nascent period of classical film music history but also makes a compelling argument that there are important continuities that connect the mature silent period with the early sound period. -- Jeff Smith, author of <i>The Sounds of Commerce: Marketing Popular Film Music</i> With a thorough investigation of hundreds of conversion-era feature films, Michael Slowik has provided an important revision of film music history to account for a wide range of scoring practices. After the Silents is impressive scholarship and a valuable resource for anyone with an interest in film sound. -- Jennifer Fleeger, author of <i>Sounding American: Hollywood, Opera, and Jazz</i> Scholars interested in film music will enjoy Slowik's discussion of the differences in film scoring practices across studios and in B films versus mainstream, higher-budget films.... Recommended. * Choice * Slowik offers a comprehensive and compelling analysis of the evolving and diverse musical landscape of early sound film and revises our understanding of the development of the classical Hollywood film score. * Journal of American History *

  • Long-listed for Kraszna-Krausz Book Award for Best Moving Image Book 2015

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