Before we can understand this moving film genre, we must first understand music. What is music and where does it come from? In his book, John Belton states, “one definition of music is ‘organized noise’” (154). Earlier in this course, we learned that the musical score of a film attempts to direct the audience’s attention to specific details or to provide information about the time and place of action. Musicals however, are not your ordinary narrations. They differ from a film with music in that they transform the setting into a new world of pure spectacle.
[In 1925] Warner Bros. had launched sound and talking pictures, with Bell Telephone Laboratory researchers, by developing a revolutionary synchronized sound system called Vitaphone. It was a short-lived sound-on-disk system. This sound-on-disk process allowed sound to be recorded on a 16" phonograph record (a fragile disk mad...
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...o entertain their audiences.
Being one of the most popular types of entertainment, American films are here to stay. Musicals have evolved significantly from “talkies” into a major movie genre. These films have specific elements that separate them from any other genre; they emphasize and showcase complete song and dance routines in a significant manner. Musical films can be broken down into subgenres including backstage, operettas, Astaire-Rogers, and integrated musicals. The goal in any of these categories is to transition between narratives and musical numbers smoothly. The heart of all musicals lie in its music and characters that sing and dance to it. As quick as the Golden Age of the Musical began in the 1930s, it came to an end in the 1960s. Drawing on popular rock music of earlier decades, musicals had reinvented themselves and were once again, on the rise.
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