Dorothea Mitchell, 1967Lady Lumberjack HomeAbout this siteCredits and Acknowledgements
Dorothea Mitchell Biography Canada's First Amateur Feature-Length Film: A Race for Ties Port Arthur Amateur Cinema Society The Fatal Flower Project Educational Resources
Home > Educational Resources > Activities for Elementary (Grades 4-8) > Silent Movie Music

Silent Movie Music

Silent films were called that because there was no way of recording the sound and then matching it with the "moving pictures" that made up the film. Usually, the movie theatre would hire a piano or organ player to play the music while the movie was being shown.

The pianist would have to watch the movie as it was being shown, and play along. If the pianist played too quickly or too slowly, he or she would have to "improvise" a transition whenever a scene change occurred.

The music helped tell the story by explaining what was happening in the movie.
  • Sometimes the composers wrote music to match each of the main characters.
  • Other times the composers wrote music that matched an event that was happening in the movie.

ACTIVITY: SILENT MOVIE SAMPLES

In a group or with your class, watch a silent movie. As you are watching the movie, have one of your classmates or your teacher stop the music whenever it changes themes. When the film stops, decide what emotion or feeling the music is portraying. Is itů
  • Happy?
  • Sad?
  • Suspenseful or scary?
Or does the music describe something that is happening in the movie. Is there…
  • A car chase?
  • A romantic or fun event?
  • A scary moment, like a robbery or other crime?
Go To Top ]

Home | About | Credits
Dorothea Mitchell Biography
Canada's First Amateur Feature-Length Film: A Race for Ties
Port Arthur Amateur Cinema Society
The Fatal Flower Project | Educational Resources