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From the inception of motion pictures, various inventors attempted to unite sight and sound through "talking" motion pictures. The Edison Company is known to have experimented with this as early as the fall of 1894 under the supervision of W. K. L. Dickson. The film shows a man, who may possibly be Dickson, playing violin before a phonograph horn as two men dance.From the inception of motion pictures, various inventors attempted to unite sight and sound through "talking" motion pictures. The Edison Company is known to have experimented with this as early as the fall of 1894 under the supervision of W. K. L. Dickson. The film shows a man, who may possibly be Dickson, playing violin before a phonograph horn as two men dance 


By the spring of 1895, Edison was offering Kinetophones--Kinetoscopes with phonographs inside their cabinets. The viewer would look into the peep-holes of the Kinetoscope to watch the motion picture while listening to the accompanying phonograph through two rubber ear tubes connected to the machine. The picture and sound were made somewhat synchronous by connecting the two with a belt. Although the initial novelty of the machine drew attention, the decline of the Kinetoscope business and Dickson's departure from Edison ended any further work on the Kinetophone for 18 years.

In 1913, a different version of the Kinetophone was introduced to the public. This time, the sound was made to synchronize with a motion picture projected onto a screen. A celluloid cylinder record measuring 5 1/2" in diameter was used for the phonograph. Synchronization was achieved by connecting the projector at one end of the theater and the phonograph at the other end with a long pulley.

Nineteen talking pictures were produced in 1913 by Edison, but by 1915 he had abandoned sound motion pictures. There were several reasons for this. First, union rules stipulated that local union projectionists had to operate the Kinetophones, even though they hadn't been trained properly in its use. This led to many instances where synchronization was not achieved, causing audience dissatisfaction. The method of synchronization used was still less than perfect, and breaks in the film would cause the motion picture to get out of step with the phonograph record. The dissolution of the Motion Picture Patents Corp. in 1915 may also have contributed to Edison's departure from sound films, since this act deprived him of patent protection for his motion picture inventions.




Since 1902, Léon Gaumont had been demonstrating promising prototypes in France, committed to the idea that talking films would succeed. His persistent efforts to profit from popular, sound film entertainment culminated in the commercial premiere of the Chronophonograph in 1907 at the London Hippodrome.  The Motion Picture Patents Company, with its vise-grip monopoly on the American film industry, took the Chronophonograph seriously enough to license it exclusively for the United States. Within a year, Gaumont was supplying film shorts containing opera, monologues and dramatic scenes. Despite all this positive activity, the Chronophonograph soon faded away. It suffered from the same problems that would eventually doom all the endeavors of this period. They were too expensive for the exhibitors to install compared to their return, and they had inadequate amplification with less than trustworthy synchronization. 


Léon Gaumont was determined to succeed. He worked hard to further optimize synchronization. He also developed theElgephone. This was a mechanicalamplifier using compressed air based on Parson's Auxetaphone. By 1913 he took another swing at the American market. Gaumont promised major improvements in both sync and volume, but his credibility was damaged. His prior efforts had not lived up to the expectations of his commercial supporters. Furthermore, the general attitude of the industry was turning completely against the idea of sound films. There wasmounting evidence that the whole idea was a financial black hole for anyone who became involved with it. Thomas Edison would soon cause this industry attitude to be set in concrete. He would also fail.  



From about 1908 to 1920, a number of people experimented with photographically recording sound on film. These systems met with limited technical success and commercial failure due to the inability to provide sound loud enough to be heard by more than a few people. Like any complex system, credit for the invention of sound motion pictures cannot be granted to any individual. However, the accumulated inventions of Lee De Forest, including the "Audion" tube which allowed amplification of electrical signals, were key to the development of both sound on film and sound on disc systems. DeForest's inventions were refined by companies like American Telephone & Telegraph and the Radio Corporation of America. De Forest, himself, was the first to successfully record sound on motion picture film in a process he called "Phonofilm". 



While it was his optical recording of sound on film in 1922 that was the first successful demonstration of talking pictures, it would be sound recorded on synchronized records that provided the impetus for the film industry to abandon silent pictures forever.

A short test strip that is one of the earliest surviving recordings of sound-on-film, made by Eugene Lauste between 1910 and 1912, merely hints at the revolution that was to come.  Alongside the frames, which show nondescript images of plants, lies a series of black squiggles that encode sound – perhaps the first sound ever simultaneously reproduced with moving images on the one medium.





Watch this video on the Lauste Flim Clip

The first feature film originally presented as a talkie was The Jazz Singer,  released in October 1927. A major hit, it was made with Vitaphone, the leading brand of sound-on-disc technology. Sound-on-film, however, would soon become the standard for talking pictures.

The 1930s

With the advent of the talking pictures, music once again established itself as a vital element in the film industry. At first, sound films followed the precedent set by their ancestors, using compiled "western music" (Classical music, usually from the 19th century.) This practice soon gave way, however, to the creating of original scores. Max Steiner wrote the first completely original score for King Kong in 1933.

Though at first, music was used primarily as simple reinforcement, towards the latter half of the decade, the composers began to experiment and to develop their own style of unobtrusively supporting the film’s plot and characters.

The 1940s

In the 1940s, composers refined their expertise even more. One of the most important and influential composers was Bernard Herrmann, who broke many barriers and traditions to create music that greatly enhanced the films for which he wrote.

The 1950s

Up until the 1950s, film music had been entirely symphonic. In the 1950s, however, Jazz opened the industry up to a vast and new world of possibilities. Although it had been used for musicals and animated films, it had never been used in mainstream genre films of the 1930s and 1940s. The use of Jazz not only "contemporized" the sounds and theme of movies, but fewer musicians were needed, thus making orchestration less expensive.

The 1960s

The use of jazz and other experiments continued on into the 1960s. It was in this decade that acceptance of new music led to the scoring of "Rock around the Clock" for Richard Brooks' Blackboard Jungle, the first movie to use a rock soundtrack.

The 1970s

The 1970s passed with very little new innovation. The decade was spent perfecting things learned in the previous decade. People such as John Williams created scores using these techniques that are highly memorable, even today.


1. Read Chapter 1 and 2 of the Complete Guide to Film Scoring and take notes as needed.


Chapter 1 

Chapter 2 


2, Having taken great notes on the material I have provided for you, engage in some additional research to see if there are any gaps in the information provides. Fill in the gaps on your portfolio as needed.


3.  Read Chapter 6 and 7 of Complete Guide to Film Scoring and take notes as needed.


Chapter 6 

Chapter 7 


4.  BRIEF RESEARCH PROJECT:  After the 1970's music on film entered the digital realm.  Research how digital music technology was present in the film industry and how sound improved as a result.  Site examples of use, introduction of surround sound, dolby, etc.


Here is an interesting resource to get started 


Post it all on your ePortfolio.


Assignment 2: 

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