The Birth of a Nation – 1915 (More minimalist approach in view of the use of instruments, violin has the first role in almost every scene, no use of percussion, stylistic approach similar to the early stages of music harmony.
The Thief of Baghdad - 1924 (Organ, some use of eastern scales like Lydian, composition based on the classic western harmony).
The King of Kings – 1927 (M.I.D.I – version that I have, no eastern scales though the movie is set to Jerusalem, same principle in composition methods as the above).
Napoleon – 1927 (Full use of a classic orchestra set, more ‘free’ composition – seems to be less mickey-mousing, composition is based on basic harmonic principles that suits the movies content/French revolution).
The Thief of Baghdad – 1940 (Fast paced strings – especially high pitched violins, horns have major role in almost everything in order to give the impression of gloriousness).
Rome Open City – 1945 (Following the same ‘Hollywood’ sound of that time period, continuous use of horns to indicate dramatic scenes, use of violins, lots of marcatos and trills, use of some wind instruments occasionally to describe more personal/individual/human scenes, Jazz compositions introduced – cabaret scenes.
The African Queen – 1951 (More often use of woodwinds and percussion like xylophone, more experimentation in view of dissonance – starting to moving away, in certain moments, from being ultra-melodic to experiment with scenes and the way sounds affect the overall composition, nevertheless big/essential moments in scenes keep the old dramatic composition using horns but mainly high-pitched violins.
Genghis Han – 1965 (Music cues begin to be less leaving more room for acting, something that is natural comparing to the silent movies era because of the use of sound and sound effects, no implementation of ethnic instruments or eastern scales comparing for examples with Lawrence of Arabia , similar overall composition approach with the rest using mostly violins legato and horns, no use of percussion or major rhythm changes.
Generally compositions, moving through time, begin to move away from the classical harmony and overall use of orchestra introducing more textures, dissonance, and vocals/choir.
Scene themes, character themes seem to be less apparent as music for films evolves.
Patterns take place/using the classical orchestra closer to creating certain ‘effects’ and overall ‘atmosphere’ inside the movie.
No use of ethnic instruments/experimentation in combination with the classic orchestra.
Rhythmic patterns seem to be specific, with no major alternation or introduction of ethnic percussion.
In some cases compositions make use of some eastern scales but this is an exception to the rule.
The Birth of a Nation (1915) – Joseph Carl Breil
Intolerance (1916) – Joseph Carl Breil / Carl Davis (1989 Restoration) Silent Film Era
The Thief of Bagdad (1924) – Mortimer Wilson
The King of Kings (1927) - Hugo Riesenfeld /Josiah Zuro
Napoleon (1927) - Arthur Honegger
The Informer (1935) - Max Steiner
The Thief of Bagdad (1940) – Miklós Rózsa
Rome Open City (1945) - Renzo Rossellini
The African Queen (1951) - Allan Gray
The Ten Commandments (1956) – Elmer Bernstein
Spartacus (1960) – Alex North
Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Maurice Jarre
Genghis Khan (1965) - Dušan Radić
Jesus of Nazareth (1977) – Maurice Jarre
Star Wars IV – A New Hope (1977) – John Williams
Star Wars VI – Return of the Jedi (1983) – John Williams
The Mummy (1999) – Jerry Goldsmith
The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (2002) – Howard Shore
The Lord of the Rings – The Return of the King (2003) – Howard Shore
300 (2006) – Tyler Bates
Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time (2010) – Harry Gregson Williams
Observations / Thoughts:
Problematic time period (70’s – 80’s)?
Initial idea / introduction of ethnic instruments implementation with classic orchestra tends to be correct since through the current research there seems to be no similar / obvious examples.
Something worth mentioning (connection with future PhD research in the gaming industry)
Video games, though not as professionally built as film music, seems to be have more broad musical aspects especially when the game is set to eastern countries.
Further Literature Reviewed:
Settling the Score: Music and the Classical Hollywood Film
Overtones and Undertones: Reading Film Music
The Art of Film Music
Hearing Film: Tracking Identifications in Contemporary Hollywood Film Music
Strains of Utopia: Gender, Nostalgia, and Hollywood Film Music
Film Music: A History
Music in Film: Soundtracks and Synergy
Film Music: A Very Short Introduction
Film Music (Peter Larsen)
Global Soundtracks: Worlds of Film Music
http://www.duduk.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=75 (Los Angeles Times)