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The Sounds of the Silents in Britain$
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Julie Brown and Annette Davison

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199797615

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199797615.001.0001

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Sound at the Film Society

Sound at the Film Society

(p.263) 14 Sound at the Film Society
The Sounds of the Silents in Britain

John Riley

Oxford University Press

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

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