The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain

AHRC-Funded Beyond Text Network “The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain”

The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain: Performance, Realisation and Reception
DATES: Thursday 7th–Friday 8th April, 2011, at the Institute of Musical Research (IMR) and the Barbican Centre, London
Deadline for abstracts: 30 November 2010

We invite papers from all relevant disciplines for the last in a series of events designed to establish and develop a research network concerned with the sonic dimensions of “silent” film exhibition in Britain, interpreted in the broadest possible sense. Papers concerning the performance, presentation and/or reception of these sonic practices are particularly welcome, as are presentations by composers and performers. We are especially interested in papers on British practices, but welcome proposals facilitating comparisons.

Research questions might focus on:

– Film accompaniment manuals and photoplay collections
– Key British cinema performers
– Sonic and musical practices in Britain compared to elsewhere, variations in practices according to county or region, rural versus urban setting, and exhibition context.
– Aspects of cine-variety
– How differing sonic practices shape our understanding of silent films
– Relationships between sonic practices and developments in the narrative structure and purpose of early films (e.g. educational, ‘stories’, newsreel, etc.)
– The practice and/or reception of live accompaniment of early cinema in Britain today (avant garde/pop/historically conscious…)

Individual Papers: Abstracts of 250 words for individual papers of up to 20 minutes should be e-mailed, as a Word attachment, to with the subject line: The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain. We will also consider shorter presentations of around 10 minutes on specific issues relating to the conference themes. These may be grouped into a panel, or sent individually. Please include your name and title, institutional affiliation (if any), email address, and postal address.

Deadline for all proposals is 30 November 2010.

14th British Silent Film Festival 2011 (7th–10th April, 2011)
The conference with be sharing its second day (8th April) with the British Silent Film Festival at the Barbican. Papers that include a practice element (composition, performance) are particularly welcome for that day.

Postgraduate scholarships:
Postgraduate students working in this, and/or related areas may apply for one of two scholarships (to include basic travel and accommodation, and conference fee and refreshments). Applicants should send the following information to, marking the subject line “PG Scholarships, The Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain: name, institution where studying, and an outline of their (related) research project.

More information about the Network can be found here:

For questions about the conference or Network, please contact either Dr Julie Brown ( or Dr Annette Davison (