One cheesy dance-hall, no dialogue, some wonderful music equals great visual jokes, tragic observation about mankind and the 50 year history of Europe in front of you. Different characters live through their dances from 1930s to the 1980s as the time passes by and politics, social behavior, and fashion change with each new epoch… For less than two hours we would go through the wars, peace, racial conflicts, student riots of 1968 while Ettore Scola’s camera never leaves the ballroom. The film was nominated by the Academy for the Best Foreign Language movie award. It should’ve been nominated for the best Universal Language award – the language of music and film.
This 1909 article from Telephony magazine details services offered by a company called Tel-Musici in Wilmington, Delaware.
The idea was simple: a special phone receiver was installed at the subscriber’s home and the subscriber was given a telephone directory in which phone numbers were assigned to pieces of music. The subscriber could then, for a fee of three cents per piece (or seven cents for grand opera!), dial up the desired music and a switchboard operator would play the appropriate record on a phonograph, transmitting the sound over the telephone line to the subscriber’s home. A megaphone attachment was provided for the home receiver in case more volume was needed. Tel-Musici boasted of superior sound quality free of “metallic, rasping, and grating features.”
I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.
So music has a fiction in that kind of film, but in most films, music is only present to fill in emotions that are lacking. Most films claim to be realistic and the use of music in them is therefore a lie. In real life we never hear music in our lives unless it’s played on the radio or television or a musician is present. But music is used then to make up for lack of tension that the director hasn’t managed to create. I have nothing against musicals—for example, I love the films of Fred Astaire and the films of Hitchcock, but those aren’t realistic films. The use of music in conventional cinema is usually used or almost always used to make up for what’s lacking in emotion because the director has not done his job properly.
John Morris – Transsylvanian Lullaby (Young Frankenstein: Music From the Original Soundtrack)