Item Details

Toward a Prehistory of Film Music: Hans Erdmann's Score for Nosferatu and the Idea of Modular Form

Issue: Vol 6 No. 1 (2013)

Journal: Journal of Film Music

Subject Areas: Popular Music

DOI: 10.1558/jfm.v6i1.31


Photoplay music is a genre that took shape during the “silent” period of cinema when extended narrative films became mass entertainment. Many photoplay pieces exhibit certain structural features that we propose to conceptualize as modular form: They consist of several brief segments (often indicated by double barlines and numbers) that are easy to rearrange and flexible in themselves. Hans Erdmann’s Fantastisch-romantische Suite, derived from his original Nosferatu score, is such a set of musical modules designed to accompany various films in ad hoc arrangements–a purpose supported not only by numerous breaking points but also by their harmonic, syntactic and textural design. While modular techniques persisted in the era of sound film well after 1930, they also continued certain practices of theatrical music of the 19th and early 20th centuries, such as compilation and quick arrangement of stock pieces in ballet, vaudeville, pantomime, and spoken drama.

Author: Janina Müller, Tobias Plebuch

View Original Web Page

References :

Anderson, Gillian B. 1988. Music for silent films, 1894–1929. A guide. Washington: Library of Congress.

Becce, Giuseppe. 1919–33. Kinothek, 6 vols. Berlin: Schlesinger.

Becce, Giuseppe, Hans Erdmann, and Ludwig Brav. 1927. Allgemeines Handbuch der Filmmusik. Berlin-Lichterfelde: Schlesinger.

Beynon, George W. 1921. Musical presentation of motion pictures. New York/Boston: Schirmer.

Brav, Ludwig. 1928. Thematischer Führer durch Klassische und moderne Orchestermusik zum besonderen Gebrauch für die musikalische “Film-Illustration.” Supplement: “Die Praxis der Bearbeitung und Besetzung für kleines Orchester.” Berlin: Bote & Bock.

Castil-Blaze, François Henri Joseph. 21825. Dictionnaire de musique moderne, vol. 2. Paris: Magasin de musique de la lyre moderne.

Cone, Edward T. 1962. Stravinsky: The progress of a method. Perspectives of New Music 1, no. 1: 18-26.

Cooper, Alfred E., David Mayer. 1983. Four bars of “Agit”: Incidental music for Victorian and Edwardian melodrama. London: Samuel French.

Debussy, Claude. 1913. “Concerts Colonne.” Revue Musicale S.I.M. 9, no. XI: 44.

Erdmann, Hans. 1912. Katholische Kirchenmusik in Schlesien. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.

———. 1926. Fantastisch-romantische Suite. Berlin: Bote & Bock.

———. 1928. Problematische Praxis. Ein offener Brief. FilmTonKunst 8, no. 4: 67.

Klotz, Sebastian. 2006. Kombinatorik und die Verbindungskünste der Zeichen in der Musik zwischen 1630 und 1780. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.

Kramer, Ursula. 2003. Zur Bedeutung Johann Andrés für die Herausbildung einer neuartigen, “analogen” Schauspielmusik. Seine Kompositionen zu Macbeth und King Lear. In Carl Maria von Weber und die Schauspielmusik seiner Zeit, ed. Dagmar Beck and Frank Ziegler, 61-74. Mainz: Schott.

———. 2008. Schauspielmusik am Hoftheater in Darmstadt 1810–1918. Spiel-Arten einer selbstverständlichen Theaterpraxis. Mainz: Schott.

Lassen, Eduard. c. 1900. Musik zu Goethes Faust, parts 1 and 2. Breslau: Hainauer.

Leydon, Rebecca. 2001. Debussy’s late style and the devices of the early silent cinema. Theory Spectrum 23, no. 2: 217-241.

London, Kurt. 1936. Film music: A summary of the characteristic features of its history, aesthetics, technique; and possible developments. London: Faber & Faber.

Marks, Martin Miller. 1997. Music and the silent film. New York/Oxford: Oxford University Press.

McFarland, Mark. 2004. The origins of a method. Journal of Music Theory 48, no. 2: 295-324.

Paulin, Scott D. 2010. “Cinematic” music: Analogies, fallacies, and the case of Debussy. Music and the Moving Image 3, no. 1: 1-21.

Piccardi, Carlo. 2009. Pierrot at the cinema: The musical common denominator from pantomime to film, trans. Gillian B. Anderson. 2009. Music and the Moving Image 1, no. 2: 37-52. 2009; 2, no. 2: 7-23. 2013; 6, no. 1: 4-54.

Plebuch, Tobias. 2012. Mysteriosos demystified: Topical strategies within and beyond the silent cinema. The Journal of Film Music 5, nos. 1–2: 77-92.

Rapée, Ernö. 1925. Encyclopaedia of music for pictures. New York: Belwin.

Ratner, Leonard G. 1970. Ars combinatoria: Chance and choice in eighteenth-century music. In Studies in Eighteenth-century music: A tribute to Karl Geiringer, ed. H.C.R. Landon and R. Chapman, 343-363. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Reicha, Anton. 1883. Art du compositeur dramatique, ou cours complet de composition vocale. Paris: Costallat.

Rosar, William H. 1983. Music for the monsters. Universal Pictures horror film scores of the thirties. The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress 40, no. 4: 390-421.

———. 2003. Bernard Hermann: The Beethoven of film music? The Journal of Film Music 1, nos. 2–3: 121-150.

Sabaneev, Leonid. 1935. Music for the film. A handbook for composers and conductors. London: Pitman.

Saunders, James. 2008. Modular music. Perspectives of New Music 46, no. 1: 152-193.

Schaefer, Albert. 1886. Historisches und systematisches Verzeichnis sämtlicher Tonwerke zu den Dramen Schillers, Goethes, Shakespeares, Kleists und Körners. Leipzig: Merseburger.

Schillinger, Joseph. 1941. The Schillinger system of musical composition. 2 vols. New York: Da Capo Press, 1978 [1941].

Schmidt-Boelcke, Werner. 1979. Ein Kinoorchester-Dirgent erinnert sich: Gero Gandert im Gespräch mit Werner Schmidt-Boelcke. Stummfilmmusik gestern und heute, 35–50. Berlin: Deutsche Kinemathek.

Schneller, Tom. 2012. Easy to cut: Modular form in the film scores of Bernard Herrmann. The Journal of Film Music 6, nos. 1–2: 127–51.

Siebert, Ulrich Eberhard. 1990. Filmmusik in Theorie und Praxis. Eine Untersuchung der 20er und frühen 30er Jahre anhand des Werkes von Hans Erdmann. Frankfurt am Main: Lang.

Smith, Marian. 1988. Borrowings and original music: A dilemma for the ballet-pantomime composer. Dance Research: The Journal of the Society for Dance Research 6, no. 2: 3-29.

Smith, Richard Langham. 1973. Debussy and the art of the cinema. Music & Letters 54, no. 1: 61-70.

Steiner, Fred. 1974. Herrmann’s “black-and-white” music for Hitchcock’s Psycho, part 1. Film Music Notebook 1, no. 1: 29-36.

Tasler, Angelika. 2014. Schauspielmusik in den historischen Beständen des Coburger Theaters. In Theater mit Musik. 400 Jahre Schauspielmusik im europäischen Theater, ed. Ursula Kramer, 119-127. Bielefeld: transcript 2014.

Walus, Bartolomiej P. 2011. Modular structures in film music: The answer to synchronization problems? The Journal of Film Music 4, no. 2: 125-55.

Wannemacher, Henry. 1878. Melo-dramatic Music, containing 20 numbers or dramatic cues, such as hurries, combats, tremolos, mysterious music, &c., &c. New York: A.M. Schacht.

Weingartner, Felix. 1907. Musik zu Goethes Faust. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.

Zamecnik, John Stepan. 1913. Sam Fox moving picture music, vol. 1. Cleveland: Sam Fox.