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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/747

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Making the Music Fit the Screen

The picture is rehearsed with the orchestra accompaniment and mechanical cues prepared

��Wlll\.\ I Ik- liero'sniotlicr is gasping her linal blessing as she prepares to depart from the screen to a celluloid heaven and the orchestra in the pit accompanies the pathetic scene with a deafening beating of cymbals and a joyous roaring of snare drums to the tune of "A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," it is no wonder that an audience de- cides that ca|)ital punishment for certain orchestra leaders would be an excellent thing.

Even the best moving picture theaters occasion- ally stoop to "in- cidental music" which fits certain photoplays about as accurately as a right shoe fits a left foot.

There is only one way to attain a harmonious re- lation between screen drama and incidental music. The two must be Dfdinated.

Stanley W. Lawlon, general nuisical director of a chain of New York mo\-ing picture and vaude\ille theaters, has invented and constructed an electrical orchestra director which accomplishes this harmonious relation. The picture projecting machine in the booth ab- soluteh' controls the electrical orchestra director in the pit. The theor\' of the Lawton photopla\' orchestral director, as it is called, is simple. By electricitx', signals are aulomalicalh- flashed to the orchestra from the projection machine on the screen as the picture progresses. Ever^• few seconds a different signal

���automaticalh- co-

��flashes, informing the nnisicians that sentimental, liveK', or tragic music is to be played. The musicians' score and cues have been arranged beforehand during rehearsal. They merely read their part and follow the cues, changing from selection to selection as the signals instruct. The machine in the center of the orchestra consists of a flat, oblong box with red glass sides, which sur- mounts a curious looking cylinder or drum. As the films are reeled through the pro- jector, signals flash from the red glass box. For example, if the hero's mother is in death's embrace, the letters "TREM," mean- ing tremolo, are flashed, and the orchestra responds accordingly.

So accurate is

the electrical cue-

a recent rather

��Inflections marked on the paper record are duplicated on the side of the cylinder by steel pegs that contact a magnet

��ing system that at amusing but exacting test given the a|)paratus, the signal "DRUM" was flashed and obe>ed at the very instant when a comedian on the screen hurled a chair through a window.

Xo matter at how rapid or slow a sjieed the film is projected, the timing of the cues to the orchestra will be accurate. This precision is obtained by an electric contact-maker o[)erated b\- a gear on the shaft of the projection- machine handle (sec page 735). Even.- time the handle makes fifteen turns a worm-gear causes electrical contact to be made, and a current passes through wires to the electrical orchestra director,


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