Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Everything related to researching, scoring and performing music with silent film.
silentmovies74
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Unread post by silentmovies74 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:56 am

There is a version of The Bat (1926) which has possibly the most monotonous score I have heard. I'm assuming it's the Alpha edition. It consists of about four slow bars repeated over and over on an organ. not good.

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Rodney
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Unread post by Rodney » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:24 pm

silentmovies74 wrote:There is a version of The Bat (1926) which has possibly the most monotonous score I have heard. I'm assuming it's the Alpha edition. It consists of about four slow bars repeated over and over on an organ. not good.
Yep. I heard the same score on Way Down East. What it lacks in appropriateness and imagination, it makes up for in versatility :lol:
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
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"Let the Music do the Talking!"

shaheena
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Unread post by shaheena » Mon Jan 31, 2011 7:00 pm

I have a DVD of Camille (Nazimova/Valentino, 1921) by Classic Video Streams that has Camille coughing up blood to a full-on Wurlitzer organ blazing away at a very upbeat ragtime. The music also seems to just stop and start at random throughout most of the film. I just give up, mute the TV volume, and play Debussy piano music on my CD player. Whether it synchs up or not, at least it doesn't make me feel like I'm about to have a brain hemorrhage from listening to it.

I also watch my Sheik/Son of the Sheik DVD with the TV muted, and I play a Kanoon CD (downloaded from Amazon.com) on infinite repeat for both movies. The CD is called Kanoon Bazaar 2 by Ahmed Nasr, and if one starts the movie and then immediately starts the CD, the music actually synchs with the action most of the way through The Sheik. It has become my preferred music, hands down, for this film.
Ahlan wa sahlan... Enter here, into the midst of your family, with every ease and comfort.

diane
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Unread post by diane » Thu Feb 03, 2011 12:24 am

I'll add my 2 cents

"The Penalty" was one of the first DVD silent that I bought and
I must say the soundtrack was, I thought, quite weird, just several
low notes repeated over and over. Now I have watched it a few
times, I have got used to it.
One soundtrack I really dislike is "The Patsy" - the music is by
Vivek Maddala. When I first started watching it, I actually thought
the print was faulty.
I am not that knowledgeable about silent movies about I have seen
a few of Harold Lloyds and the music is super - I think it is Robert
Israel. I wished he had been given "The Patsy". It cried out for his
magic touch.

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Rodney
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Unread post by Rodney » Thu Feb 03, 2011 8:23 am

diane wrote:I'll add my 2 cents

"The Penalty" was one of the first DVD silent that I bought and
I must say the soundtrack was, I thought, quite weird, just several
low notes repeated over and over. Now I have watched it a few
times, I have got used to it.
One soundtrack I really dislike is "The Patsy" - the music is by
Vivek Maddala. When I first started watching it, I actually thought
the print was faulty.
I am not that knowledgeable about silent movies about I have seen
a few of Harold Lloyds and the music is super - I think it is Robert
Israel. I wished he had been given "The Patsy". It cried out for his
magic touch.
I just watched The Patsy with Maddala's score for the first time two nights ago, and I thought it was a very good one, so I guess tastes vary. The recorded sound quality was excellent, and the through-composed score achieved a good balance of having major themes (including a nice, instantly recognizable love theme) while Mickey-Mousing when appropriate (including impressive on-the-beat synchronization in the scene where Marion throws chairs and furniture around to make it look like there's been a struggle).
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
www.mont-alto.com
"Let the Music do the Talking!"

Battra92
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Unread post by Battra92 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:44 pm

I just saw The Patsy the other night (my fiancee even liked it!) so I'd say the music was at least effective.

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westegg
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Unread post by westegg » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:53 pm

I like THE PATSY; I think a better score could have been created, but at least the one used didn't ruin it!

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Unread post by Jimmy Shannon » Mon May 02, 2011 10:02 pm

I just watched The Patsy, and logged onto Nitrateville to find out more information about its composer, as I thought it was one of the finest silent comedy scores I've yet heard. It had a great playful touch with some repeating themes that really set a perfect mood... I found myself looking forward to when its main comic theme would repeat, as it was that perfect. (It is featured throughout the film in various guises, but most often in the "going crazy" scene) As distinctive as the score was, it always felt like it served the movie, without distracting from it. I was really blown away by this score, actually. It felt like a score that would be composed for this movie had it been made with sound, instead of just a nondescript bed of music in the background, which you often hear on silents, especially on smaller releases. I wish all silent scores could work this well.

jeffm
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Re: Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Unread post by jeffm » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:40 pm

Worst scoring I ever heard was on an old public domain VHS of METROPOLIS. The whole feature was scored with that loop of 20's jazz records Home Movie Wonderland and Niles Cinema Products both used to use on their silent comedies (Hey, a silent movie is a silent movie, right?) and repeated about every 15 minutes, with a jump splice from the middle of the last track to the start of the next.

Despite this, does anyone have discography info on what records were used to concoct this very overly familiar track? All best wishes. :roll:

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FrankFay
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Re: Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Unread post by FrankFay » Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:53 pm

jeffm wrote:Worst scoring I ever heard was on an old public domain VHS of METROPOLIS. The whole feature was scored with that loop of 20's jazz records Home Movie Wonderland and Niles Cinema Products both used to use on their silent comedies (Hey, a silent movie is a silent movie, right?) and repeated about every 15 minutes, with a jump splice from the middle of the last track to the start of the next.

Despite this, does anyone have discography info on what records were used to concoct this very overly familiar track? All best wishes. :roll:
I've got the same, or very similar- it was disconcerting to see the Metropolis workers trudge onto the lifts to a snappy jazz tune.
Eric Stott

Redbeard
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Re: Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Unread post by Redbeard » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:40 pm

I'll cast my ballot for Type O-Negative's score for Nosferatu. Whomever thought that death metal and Murnau were a good combination should've been shot before he had a chance to carry out this abomination. While I'm at it, I'll pair that nomination with the Moroder score for Metropolis and TCM's score ffor The Cameraman.

frankebe
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Re: Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Unread post by frankebe » Tue Nov 13, 2012 9:13 pm

One of the scores that left me scratching my head is Lee Erwin's music to Langdon's THREE'S A CROWD. It certainly has the right general feeling for the movie; as purely background music, I cannot imagine the film with better ambient sound. But it is so out of sync with what's happening on the screen, I could never figure out what the problem was. At first it's about 20 seconds early; you hear the alarm ringing without seeing any clock, then when you do see the clock, the ringing has long since gone. Later the music seems to be late, then early, then spot on; while Langdon is taking his time making a diaper-pie, the music becomes frantic. But it all ends on time. I guess I'll never know what happened…

Currently, some of my favorite hate-picks in silent movie music are:

Patrick Laviosa (or whoever slapped his music onto the films): some of his music to the Jean Durand comedies in the Gaumont DVD set from Kino is quite good, if unbelievably repetitious, but much more of it is so leaden and adverse to the comic action, that I can't watch the films without becoming depressed;

Franklin Stover's irritating computer-generated piano music for the D. Fairbanks' WHEN THE CLOUDS ROLL BY;

Andrew Simpson's music for THE POOR FISH in the Becoming Charley Chase album made me yell at the screen (and mute the sound);

Alloy Orchestra's music for The General also made me yell at the screen (and turn off the movie, and give away the DVD)…

…and possibly at the very top of the list, here at the bottom: Whoever did the incredibly annoying "Avant-Garde Euro-Weenie Ha-Ha music" for the movie I DO on Kino's Harold Lloyd Vol. 1.


Europa Film Treasures has oodles of early cinema with revolting soundtracks:

http://www.europafilmtreasures.eu/PY/45 ... t_a_needle" target="_blank

By the way, I am a BIG fan of Rodney's "score" for JUPITER'S THUNDERBALLS (!!)

sherry
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Re: Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Unread post by sherry » Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:57 am

Mr. WU with Lon Chaney. I had to turn the voice down because of the sharp. piercing sound.

frankebe
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Re: Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Unread post by frankebe » Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:12 pm

I just remembered one of my favorite worst score for a silent film. One of the soundtracks I most love to hate: That’s the slopped-together medley of music from the opera CARMEN for the background to Chaplin’s A BURLESQUE ON CARMEN, found on the Image Entertainment’s DVD. Talk about needle-drop! Not a thought given to which pieces of music might actually support the action occurring on the screen. It was so irritating that, as I am wont to do after a certain level of exasperation, I finally switched off the sound to finish watching the movie.

Richard Finegan
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Re: Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Unread post by Richard Finegan » Tue Nov 20, 2012 3:33 am

One of the worst scores for a silent movie I ever heard was the one slapped onto the copy of LONESOME (1928) sold by Facets Video many years ago. Some familiar classical piece (can't recall its title) was played over and over, and some female vocalist's version of "Always" (that sounded all wrong - it sounded like it was from the 1950's) was added to some of the scenes where it was called for.

Three things that made this whole fiasco even worse:
1. The movie was still pretty hard to find on video back then, and this copy wasn't very good.
2. It was way too expensive!
3. And most frustrating for me: I so much hoped to find the movie with its original 1928 disc score soundtrack, I even contacted the company before ordering to inquire about the score, and was assured it would be the real 1928 score. But no...

BenModel
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Re: Worst Score For Silent Movie?

Unread post by BenModel » Tue Nov 20, 2012 12:42 pm

frankebe wrote:One of the scores that left me scratching my head is Lee Erwin's music to Langdon's THREE'S A CROWD. It certainly has the right general feeling for the movie; as purely background music, I cannot imagine the film with better ambient sound. But it is so out of sync with what's happening on the screen, I could never figure out what the problem was. At first it's about 20 seconds early; you hear the alarm ringing without seeing any clock, then when you do see the clock, the ringing has long since gone. Later the music seems to be late, then early, then spot on; while Langdon is taking his time making a diaper-pie, the music becomes frantic. But it all ends on time. I guess I'll never know what happened…
I haven't watched this release, but I know there were synch issues with many of the films Lee scored for Rohauer; it is his made-for-RR-release score that you hear on the DVD (Lee died in 2000). On the BK shorts RR remade the intertitles after the scores were recorded, and at different lengths from the original so none of those fit the film. If you've ever seen them in the 35mm prints you'll find the scores don't quite work, and some end before the film does and some get cut off at the end. Lee wanted to re-record or in some other way fix this but was not given the opportunity.

So, it's conceivable Lee's score for "Three's a Crowd" is supposed to fit when it was recorded, but doesn't here.

Ben
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