Electroacoustic Composition and Silent Film

in Music and Sound in Silent Film: From the Nickelodeon to the Artist, (London: Routledge, 2018), 187-197.

DOI: 10.4324/9781315276274-12

Abstract

This chapter focuses on electroacoustic scores for silent films that could be described as ‘“novel”, radical. It utilizes the term ‘electroacoustic’ to refer to compositional practice that uses a set of electronics-based tools for composition computer technology. Such a set of tools may be used exclusively or in combination with acoustic instruments. The chapter investigates how artist-composers use these tools to create sound-image relations that cannot be created by traditional acoustic means. It addresses a range of techniques, including the possibility of expanded and ‘fixed’ musical temporalities, the function of automated, repeated musical events, and techniques of stereophonic arrangement. If the medium of composition is electroacoustic sound, then the soundtrack will inevitably be at odds with the film’s historical context. It suggests that it is precisely the ahistorical way in which such technologically mediated methods of musical expression are utilised that allows these scores to furnish new insight into their respective silent films.