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The Sounds of the Silents in Britain$
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Julie Brown and Annette Davison

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199797615

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199797615.001.0001

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Animating the Audience: Singalong Films in Britain in the 1920s

Animating the Audience: Singalong Films in Britain in the 1920s

Chapter:
(p.222) 12 Animating the Audience: Singalong Films in Britain in the 1920s
Source:
The Sounds of the Silents in Britain
Author(s):

Malcolm Cook

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199797615.003.0013

This chapter examines the brief but vigorous popularity of singalong films in Britain in the mid-1920s. This alternate sonic practice utilized an animated “bouncing ball” or similar device to indicate the lyrics of a song with the intent of promoting a communal singalong. Communal singing was not in itself an innovation and the chapter examines a number of precedents, which provide an important context for these films. The films also coincided with the broader cultural trend of community singing, indicating a geographically and historically specific moment. Both the singalong films and the community-singing movement engaged with the new technologies of sound reproduction: gramophone, telephone, and especially radio. These technologies would play a central role in the arrival of synchronized sound in cinemas and the singalong films may be considered a reflection of the debates about what the emerging sound cinema would sound and look like.

Keywords:   Britain, cinema, 1920s, community singing, audience participation, animation, the coming of sound, sound technology

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