MP2 and the silent screen


Most of us have grown up watching movies with soundtracks specifically written or arranged to fit each scene. This ensures that all showings are exactly the same, to all audiences at different locations and different times. 

Yet in the days of early silent film, music was not used in this way. Each theater had its own accompanist who played live music personally selected from big generic books that corresponded to different types of actions. For example: there could have been music for a “Chase Scene” Hurry Music-Party” or “Hurry Music- Fire.” 

In some big cities you might have been lucky enough to hear a film with an orchestra, but in most theaters this accompanist was a single musician. 
Showings of classic silent films are now often accompanied by modern compositions written specifically to fit the old films, and performed by either a single keyboard or an orchestra. Although live music certainly enhances the experience, it is still contemporary music applied specifically and meaningfully to a film, one step removed from recording a movie soundtrack. 

In most of our film concerts, we accompany the film with music that is period-appropriate; that is music that was written prior to, or around the time of the creation of the film for a true immersive historical experience. We do not perform with monitors to line up our music with precise points in the film but rather interact with the film ourselves, merging the chamber and cinematic experience for the enhancement of both art forms. Click on our brochure below to get an idea of some sample programs!  More films added every year.

MP2 streams "Tango Tangles" (1914)

from Music on the hill, 2021 virtual festival