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Describe the Three Basic Types of Music Heard in Original Scores During the Silent Film Era and Cites Specific Examples from the Birth of a Nation. (10 Points)

In: Film and Music

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The three basic types of music heard in original scores during the silent film era were adaptations of classics, arrangements of tunes, and newly composed. Adaptations of classics are the borrowing of a substantial portion of an existing composition for use in a film score. The music should remain largely intact and recognizable, although it can be altered or adapted to suit the needs of the film. Arrangements of tunes are a new setting of a previously composed melody. Unlike an adaption, in an arrangement the film composer borrows only the melody and creates a new accomplishment. Newly composed are themes that represent aspect of the story. Themes can be altered to reflect changes in story.
Adaptations are among the most prominent adaptations are passages from Weber’s Der Freischutz, Suppe’s Light Calvary Overture, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 6 (the storm), and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyrie. The last of these serve as a spirited leitmotif for the ride of the KKK. The arrangements of well-known melodies are used primarily to arouse emotions and set moods. Southern tunes, such as “Dixie,” “Maryland, My Maryland”, and “Old Folks at Home” express stirring patriotism for the South while reminding the viewer of the story’s setting. Other patriotic melodies include “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “America the Beautiful,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” When the Southerner Cameron seeks refuge in a cabin with the former Union soldiers, their acceptance of each other is suggested by the playing of “Auld Lang Syne,” a song associated with reconciliation after the Civil War. For newly composed, the mulatto Silas Lynch, the principal antagonist, is given a dark theme dubbed “The Motif of Barbarism.”

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