You are on page 1of 1

It might be said that Anderson's chapter on 'Problematic Aesthetics' of the silent, nickelodeon-style film is entitled so because of its both

developmental, and hindering contribution to the realm of film. In the first instance, Anderson identifies the sheer abundance of the nickelodeon venue as inaugurating the exhibition of film as a right in itself. Indeed, a vast surge of up to 8,000 nickelodeon cinemas helped American film to realise its mainstream affluence and expansion (page 50). As a result, the moving image was established as an emerging art. Aside from this abstraction, the nature of the silent film, being the presence of live musical accompaniment, made a perceptual impact on the audiences experience. Musical accompaniment suppressed the resonance of the projector, and generated a beat that could both propel and smooth out any editing (page 51). This introduced music as an integral component to the moving image. Any advancement of this whole, however, was made unfeasible because of a disparate multiplicity in live musical accompaniment. Indeed, accompaniments ranged from the traditional to the contemporary, the indigenous to the migrant, and some musics failed to respond to the events on screen at all.1 This essentially meant that different audiences were witnessing different films. This, combined with an unexceptional incompetency and crudeness in performers gave way to a discernible Jackass music (page 52). Thus, a deficiency in qualitative musical accompaniment rendered a need for aesthetic refinement. The attitudes sparked off by the inadequacy of inconsistent live musical accompaniment thus helped to identify the main areas for improvement. The revitalisation of the music-image relationship was firmly embedded in the vision of a master narrative (page 53). The premise of this ideal was to professionalise the musical accompanying scene and to enlarge its dramatic capacities by using music to underline, not deluge the text. In practice, this was achieved through musical encyclopedias and cue-sheets. The former, such as Sam Fox Moving Picture Music Series, enabled performers to accompany correspondingly to a broader, pigeonholed genre. Similarly, the cue-sheet empowered accompanists to perform appositely, but in a film-specific context. Indeed, Kalinak indicates that the cue-sheet was born out of the encyclopedia, being published at similar times.2 Undertaking such practices did not only influence the cultural betterment of film, but its industrial furtherance too. Indeed, Anderson equates fitting music with profit and better patronage (page 53). The efficiency and professionalism of the film realm, could thus be seen as a precursor for the film industry. In conclusion, one might think that the simultaneous development and hindrance of live musical accompaniment was contradictory. One might describe it, however, as more of a linear dialectic: an evolutionary process striving to synthesise moving image and music in the most effective way possible. The aesthetic standardisation of live musical accompaniment allowed a diversity of tastes to come to fruition.

1 2

Kalinak, Kalinak, Film Music: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010), p.40. Kalinak, p.42.