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Saying It With SongsPopular Music and the Coming of Sound to Hollywood Cinema$
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Katherine Spring

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199842216

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199842216.001.0001

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The Fate of the Motion Picture Song

(p.146) Conclusion
Saying It With Songs

Katherine Spring

Oxford University Press

The Conclusion summarizes the central arguments of the book, namely that Hollywood's investment in the business of song creation and distribution influenced the use of popular songs in early American sound cinema, and that song performances in films shifted from being modular moments of spectacle (as they had been in Broadway stage musicals) toward functioning as integrated narrative devices. Films that emphasized theme songs can be seen as progenitors to the “monothematic score” described by Jeff Smith and Kathryn Kalinak. Classical Hollywood films continued to incorporate star-song attractions in narratively plausible ways, as shown by a brief analysis of Gilda (1946). In all, Hollywood's earliest sound films may be seen as fruitful experiments with two nascent models for film scoring—the popular song score and the orchestral background score—and they remain a testament to a richly variegated period of song use that resulted from the studios' conversion to sound and concomitant investments in Tin Pan Alley.

Keywords:   film musical, songs, popular music, classical Hollywood cinema, film history, American film industry, monothematic score, Gilda, Kathryn Kalinak, Jeff Smith, Tin Pan Alley

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