The Silent Film Music Podcast with Ben Model

The Silent Film Music Podcast with Ben Model

A podcast from renowned silent film accompanist/historian Ben Model covering the techniques of creating and performing live scores to silent films, as well as a discussion of the language of silent cinema. Find what goes on in the mind of a silent film accompanist before, during and after playing for a show. Learn about the aesthetics of silent filmmaking and storytelling language.

Episodes

March 28, 2022 52 min

Ben talks about: being a guest accompanist at the 25th annual Kansas Silent Film Festival; playing for Edward Everett Horton in a Cathedral, and the use of a “Bowery waltz”; introducing Marcel Perez to fans at the KSFF; playing for William S. Hart in Brooklyn; being able to turn on a dime in underscoring and have it make sense musically; live-scoring “The Goose Woman” on piano; new Marion Davies Blu-ray and DVD releases from his Un...

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Ben talks about: the process of scoring “Zander the Great” and “Beverly of Graustark” for home video release; a recent Kickstarter that funded super-quick; Marion Davies’s talents as a silent film actor; teaching in-person and on-campus again after two years; accompanying Edward Everett Horton shorts and “The Fire Brigade” at the Museum of Modern Art; various silent film accompaniment techniques; upcoming streams and shows, and mor...

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This is a re-posting “flashback” of episode 8, which originally posted on February 4, 2015. Welcome – News from January: composing and performing music for Parallel Exit’s “Everybody Gets Cake”, running off-Bway thru Feb 8, 2015 – Recording: instrumental from “Cake” show: “A Shakespearean Smoke Break” – the restoration of Georges Melies’ “A Trip to the Moon” with narration – recording: live performance piano and narration for “A Tr...

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This is a re-posting “flashback” of episode 7, which originally posted on January 21, 2015. Welcome – News from the road – December 2014 recap: the Silent Clowns Film Series, Chaplin Mutuals, Library of Congress holiday party, the Powers kids in “The Skeleton” – Recording: live performance, accompaniment to “Peter Pan”, Peter saves Tinkerbell –Using ragtime to accompany silent films, then and now, pros and cons – On accompanying th...

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Ben relates the journey of playing piano as part of a full orchestra live accompanying Chaplin’s City Lights under the baton of the score’s restorer, Timothy Brock, during the Silent Film Days Festival in Tromsø, Norway. Ben also explores how he experienced Chaplin’s score “from the inside” and what he learned about making music to support silent film as a result. He describes the technical difficulty of playing live accompaniment ...

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This is a re-posting “flashback” of episode 6, which originally posted on January 7, 2015. Welcome — Mea culpa, and welcome to the podcast reboot — The Silent Film Sound and Music Archive — My new DVD label Undercrank Productions and the LoC — Live performance: “My Best Girl” at St. Francis College — Using pre-existing music in film accompaniment — The Herb Graff show: silent comedies on public TV in the 1970s — Recording: Arthur K...

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This is a re-posting “flashback” of episode 5, originally posted on March 18, 2013. Welcome – A whirlwind week of performances and travel – 7 shows in 8 days Live performance: “The Mark of Zorro” at Central Baptist Church – Preparing for a performance: music prep, bench height, piano light, etc – Live performance: “My Best Girl” at Port Washington library – Upcoming performances, including a week of Mary Pickford in April – Closing

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This is a re-posting “flashback” of episode 4, originally posted on January 14, 2013. Welcome – Playing the organ at the Library of Congress theater – My Kickstarter project to release rare/lost silents on DVD and YouTube – Live performance: Raymond Griffith in “You’d Be Surprised” at Silent Clowns – Listening to a film’s spoken intro can give clues for a score – Thoughts on scoring “Oliver Twist”, W.C. Fields in “It’s the Old Army...

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This is a re-posting “flashback” of episode 3, originally posted on July 12, 2012. Welcome – Playing for “The Avenging Conscience” and “Paths to Paradise” – Live performance: “Paths to Paradise” at Silent Clowns – Thoughts on scoring “The Saphead” and “The Devil’s Needle & Other Tales of Vice and Redemption” on DVD from Kino Lorber – Downloadable mp3 scores – Live performance: “Cat and the Canary” on Steere & Sons orchestra...

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This is a re-posting “flashback” of episode 2, originally posted on June 29, 2012. Welcome – report on what was the first “Mostly Lost” film identification workshop – live performance recording “Ten Commandments” on Steere & Sons organ in Brooklyn – an ethical issue on uploading silents to YouTube from DVDs – on quoting popular songs of the day in silents – a record “heard” in Vidor’s “The Crowd” – upcoming performances: films ...

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This is a re-posting "flashback" of the very first episode of The Silent Film Music Podcast, originally posted on June 9, 2012. Welcome - score for "The Eagle" - new web series - Mabel Normand - Raymond Griffith at The Silent Clowns - score for "The Night Club" - playing for Ernie Kovacs - unidentified silents at Library of Congress - King Vidor's "The Crowd" - score for "Chicago" - under...
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In the second half of this 2-parter, Ben Model recaps the past pandemic year: producing and releasing the Edward Everett Horton DVD set, a handful of DVD release projects in development, remembering MoMA's Eileen Bowser, and looking toward the future of silent film live-streaming in 2022. Episode 43 Show Notes: Announcement: Episodes 1 through 8 of the Silent Film Music Podcast will be reissued in the podcast feed.Di...
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"End of the Year 2021 Recap" – in the first half of this 2-parter, Ben Model recaps the past pandemic year of silent film live-streaming, rediscovering the meaning of providing entertainment for fans, the return to in-person accompaniments, and ponders the future of the silent movie virtual cinema. Episode 42 Show Notes: Live shows return in early summer; re-adjustment to in-person performance; getting to leave t...
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"Live-Scoring for the Virtual Cinema" – in part two of this conversation, Ben Model discusses what it's been like to accompany silent films throughout 2021 via live-streams he's produced and presented out of his home. Ben and co-host Kerr Lockhart discuss: the differences for Ben between the creative mindsets of scoring a silent film while performing in a theater, when recording a score and when hosting a live-strea...
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"Live-Scoring for the Virtual Cinema" – in part one of this conversation, Ben Model discusses what it's been like to accompany silent films throughout 2021 via live-streams he's produced and presented out of his home. Ben and co-host Kerr Lockhart discuss: the differences for Ben between the creative mindsets of scoring a silent film while performing in a theater, when recording a score and when hosting a live-strea...
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January 10, 2021 62 min
"Adventures In Sound!" - Ben tracks his own journey to find the digital devices that best re-create or at least evoke the classic theater pipe organ experience under modern screening conditions. Topics Ben discusses the “temporary” theme for the podcast, “Those Keystone Comedy Cops” Ben’s instrumental evolution  Learning to play the organLee Erwin, theater organist, as a mentorDifference in technique between...
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On this episode Ben talks about meeting an audience's expectations of a score when a certain piece of music or style is indicated onscreen, and in a rare case of a non-narrative film made after the silent era. Also covered are silent era mood cues and cue sheets, Marion Davies in "When Knighthood Was in Flower", techniques in performance to match music to action, this episode's FAQ, and more. Live performance clips...
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On this episode Ben talks about: the annual Mostly Lost film identification workshop at the Library of Congress, currently postponed until 2021; underscoring a key scene in Keaton's "The Cameraman" and noticing a parallel with "Singin' In The Rain", playing for "Spite Marriage", the challenge of introducing and presenting "The General" at a college show; playing for Laurel & Hardy on a 19...
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On this episode Ben talks about: using music an audience may or may not expect to hear during a film in preparing scores for shows of Fairbanks' "Robin Hood" and Raoul Walsh's "Loves of Carmen"; using underscore to help smooth over missing footage; playing the theatre organ like it's an orchestra and sparingly using its "toy counter"; expanding his live-streamed silent film shows beyond his weekl...
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On this episode, Ben Model talks with co-host Kerr Lockhart talk about a cancelled gig at the Metropolitan Museum of Art turning into an online one, Gage County Nebraska and Hollywood, accompanying Russian silent films, scoring a French film for an audience with live-translated intertitles. Plus: using leitmotifs, finding a lost reel of a Baby Peggy comedy, piano tuning and this week's silent film book recommendation. You'l...
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