Sounds of the Silents workshop


The Sounds of the Silents is a one-day workshop focusing on live sonic practices for silent film exhibition to be held at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland on Tuesday 13 October 2009. The event is part of the Sounds of Early Cinema in Britain project, one of a number of academic investigations funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council as part of its Beyond Text programme.

This aim of the workshop is to enable participants to explore the use of live sonic practices with silent film. During the course of the day speakers will discuss approaches to, and the pragmatics of, these practices in a variety of contexts. The presentations and guest speakers are:

  • Sound effects in the silent era: historical evidence (exact title tbc)
    Dr Stephen Bottomore, film historian
  • The Film Explainer
    ‘Professor’ Mervyn Heard, cinema historian and lantern showman, explores the evolution, role and various dark arts of the describer in the early days of cinema.
  • The Art of Foley Sound
    Caoimhe Doyle, foley artist, and Jean McGrath, foley recordist
  • Plus contemporary responses from: Dr Martin Parker, Yann Seznec (aka The Amazing Rolo) and more

The workshop is aimed at postgraduate students of film, sound, and music (or related disciplines) and interested scholars. Owing to limited availability, attendance must be booked in advance, and early booking is advised to avoid disappointment. The organisers are also putting on a showcase of silent films with live accompaniment for the early evening in association with the Cameo Cinema, Edinburgh (further details to follow), with tickets £3/£2 conc.

Registration is £10 – to include lunch and coffee/tea (waived for Royal Musical Association members). Cheques should be made payable to the University of Edinburgh, and sent (with booking form, PDF) to:

The Sound of the Silents
c/o Dr Annette Davison
Music, Alison House
12 Nicolson Square
Edinburgh EH8 9DF

Please contact Dr Annette Davison (a.c.davison[at] if you have any questions. Further details (directions etc.) will be forwarded on receipt of payment/booking form.

Finally, two student bursaries (courtesy of the Royal Musical Association) are available. These cover the registration fee, and provide a contribution towards accommodation for up to two nights and travel. To apply, please state your name, university affiliation, address, email address, estimated cost of travel and whether you will need accommodation, and include a 300-word statement outlining how attending this sound effects workshop will enhance your research. Email to Dr. Annette Davison (a.c.davison[at] by 5pm, Friday 11 September 2009.