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 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 10:46 AM   
 By:   dpsternan   (Member)

The terms "golden age," "silver age," and "modern age" get tossed around frequently on these boards and elsewhere on the web when folks discuss film music.

Since we have a dedicated group of hard-core film music enthusiasts here at FSM, I'd be very curious to hear how you all define these "ages," and what composers you think belong into each.

I would also very much enjoy hearing your thoughts on the seminal scores from each of these composition ages.

Should be fun! Fire away...

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 11:02 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

We've discussed this a few times before.

Of those terms, only the Golden Age has an established definition in film history literature. It's also known as 'Classical Hollywood Cinema'. The time frame varies, but it's roughly between the late 20's/early 30's to the immediate post-war era. Of course, film industries in other countries have their own 'golden ages' too, maybe at different times.

I don't really know where 'silver age' comes from, who coined it, and in what context. It's not a term you see in film history literature, and hence it's far more vague. It probably came about because people needed to have a name for the period following the Golden Age, and so 'silver' seemed natural.

'Modern age', 'digital age' or what-have-you is just a continuation of that.

Personally, I think these terms are too vague to really have any meaningful use. It's better, I think, to speak of specific paradigms (Soviet montage, German expressionism, French New Wave, Italian neorealism and so forth).

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 11:15 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

As Thor says, the term "Golden Age" in respect of film history is well established but I think it was Lukas Kendall who used the phrase to also apply to CD soundtracks from that period and at around about the same time he coined the phrase "Silver Age" for scores immediately following the Golden Age period. Prior to the first FSM CD releases I don't recall the phrases being used in respect of soundtracks.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 11:19 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

So Lukas is to blame?

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 11:46 AM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)


I decided on "Silver Age Classics" circa 1998 to brand our CDs from the 1960s and '70s—I remember it being used in discussing comic books. Of course golden (50th) and silver anniversaries (25th) are common in the culture. Golden Age had been in common use re: composers from the studio era.

Lukas

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 11:46 AM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

So Lukas is to blame?

Yes, Lukas is solely responsible for having encouraged the endless acrimonious disputes about Golden Age vs Silver Age. I hope he's thoroughly ashamed of himself big grin

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 11:48 AM   
 By:   Jon Broxton   (Member)

I tend to think of Golden Age as being everything from the beginning of cinema through to around 1955... Silver Age from 1955 through the late 1970s (perhaps Star Wars/1977 would be a good cut off point)... and everything since then being part of the modern/digital age.

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 11:58 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

I tend to think of Golden Age as being everything from the beginning of cinema through to around 1955... Silver Age from 1955 through the late 1970s (perhaps Star Wars/1977 would be a good cut off point)... and everything since then being part of the modern/digital age.

I think there should be a separate distinction for the 80's and 90's because the style is vastly different from what we have in the 2000's forward.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 12:10 PM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

As Thor says, the term "Golden Age" in respect of film history is well established

I question that. Such eulogistic language is not the stuff of proper history. "Classical era" and "studio era" are more prevalent and frankly more useful terms. "Classical" here means "of or relating to a form or system considered of first significance in earlier times" (Merriam-Webster). In other words, there was an accepted standard way of doing things in the studio era. That era began to disintegrate when the studios lost control of their theater chains and had to find new ways of doing business. The process, accentuated by the rise of television, began in 1948 and took approximately a decade to play out. The dissolution of the studio music departments around 1958 is an appropriate terminal marker for film music.

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 12:16 PM   
 By:   Yavar Moradi   (Member)

Many many years ago (when I was on the Filmtracks board) I coined the term "Bronze Age" to reflect the period from Star Wars to the roughly late 80s/mid 90s, though it has more to do with style than specific years. Bronze follows from Silver after all, but has more of the yellowish color of Gold, so seemed appropriate to reflect the trend away from the modernism that came up in the Silver Age, back towards more of the Golden Age aesthetic, but in more modern guise.

Star Wars is a good cutting off point to switch Silver Age to Bronze Age, but of course scores like Poledouris's Conan the Barbarian (or Lonesome Dove) epitomize the idea.

Then somewhere in the early/mid-80s, electronics/synthesizers became very prominent, sometimes making up a score all on their own. These are what I'd call the "Digital Age", and it's been having quite a lot of overlap with "Bronze" scores, but they're so different in attitude even though they share a lot of the same time span. I think Digital Age scores have been really winning out over scores with a "Bronze" aesthetic over the past decade or two.

Yavar

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 12:16 PM   
 By:   gsteven   (Member)

Stone Age:

One Million Years, B.C.
Quest For Fire
The Flintstones
Clan of the Cave Bear

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 12:24 PM   
 By:   Basil Wrathbone   (Member)

It's simple if you think of it in this way.

GOLDEN AGE aficionados are blessed with a Golden Ear for quality film music, and have the widest range of film music appreciation. With their passion for film music from real composers and musicians playing real instruments, they are open to any era that exhibits real orchestral or instrumental music. Whether it's large scale orchestras, small jazz or blues groups, musicals, epics, dramas, westerns, sci-fi or comedy, Golden Age listeners aren't concerned with matters of "old" or "new", but being the most discerning group, they naturally focus more on fine composers than the mediocre or bad ones more prevalent today.

Golden Age listeners are inquisitive, appreciative and more daring in their tastes, and can find musical nourishment even in small amounts of today's film music. There would be few Golden Agers who do not appreciate many Silver or Modern Age scores from fine composers of real music like Goldsmith, Duning, Skinner, Rosenthal, Moross, Fielding, Bernstein, Williams, Glass, Delerue and many, many more. So a Golden Age listener could just as easily be described as an "Ageless" listener, eagerly collecting wonderful scores from all eras, refusing to pigeon-hole their film music horizons into a mere couple of decades. It follows, that with this great breadth of film music awareness, very often cultivated by being present through all or almost every period, Golden Age listeners are generally more demanding of quality and will not be satisfied with mere sound design "scores" cobbled together by technicians rather than musicians of stature. However, they do embrace electronic instruments like, for example the theremin, when there is actually a need to play the instrument rather than pretend there is an instrument when there is none.


SILVER AGE listeners share many of the attributes of their learned Golden Age cousins. Unfortunately, some are actually "Modern Age" zealots in disguise, dipping into the edges of Silver Age as it pleases them, but never venturing further. Thankfully, many dedicated Silver Agers are far more open-minded and explore both earlier and later film music as a matter of course, and can thus enjoy a musical experience almost as wide-ranging and fulfilling as Golden Agers.


Lastly, we have those who are exclusively "MODERN AGE" fans. This group is best known for its dismissal of quality music of the past as being "for old farts" and they often boast a preference for synthetic sound from pretend instruments, pounding away incessantly with no trace of refinement. They also have the impertinence to suggest that the other groups are limited and closed-minded in their tastes, while they themselves rarely venture beyond the bounds of a mere couple of decades. Needless to say, being the Group with the youngest and least mature patronage, their tastes are usually not fully formed and some allowance must be made for this. The members of this group even lambast composers of their own chosen period, if the scores are not noisy enough and do not have a superhero or monster image on the cover of their CD.
In any case, the "Modern Age" is a misnomer when used in conjunction with Gold and Silver ages. More appropriate would be "Tin Age", reflecting better the Tin Ears of its sound-design audiences and exponents.


Hope that helps.

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 2:15 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Many many years ago (when I was on the Filmtracks board) I coined the term "Bronze Age" to reflect the period from Star Wars to the roughly late 80s/mid 90s, though it has more to do with style than specific years.

Totally agree with your assessment!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 2:31 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

As Thor says, the term "Golden Age" in respect of film history is well established

I question that. Such eulogistic language is not the stuff of proper history. "Classical era" and "studio era" are more prevalent and frankly more useful terms.


You can question it all you want. That doesn't negate the fact that the term has been widely used in almost every single book on film history out there. However, you are correct that the term 'Classical Hollywood Cinema' is even more prevalent since it has more specific meaning. The latter term also avoids the value judgement of the term. Golden Age has often been mentioned en passant in the discussion of the 'studio era'.

As for the timeframe (beginning and end), we can debate that to the sun goes down, and I'm not sure we'll be any wiser by the end of it. I tend to set the end at the late 50's (for many of the reasons you cite), others put it way into the 60s. Both have good arguments. Heck, even David Bordwell -- one of our foremost film scholars and historians -- has continually redefined the timeframe of the paradigm in his many books on the subject.

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 2:34 PM   
 By:   Grecchus   (Member)

Basil - WOW!

I do believe that the Golden Age practitioners and proponents would also have worn stylish hats in their time. A sign of greater civility and personal finesse, if I may say so.

Maybe that is what is missing?

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 2:54 PM   
 By:   Michael24   (Member)

Hope that helps.

Perhaps if it hadn't be so sickeningly uppity and snarky.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 3:25 PM   
 By:   PFK   (Member)

It's simple if you think of it in this way.

GOLDEN AGE aficionados are blessed with a Golden Ear for quality film music, and have the widest range of film music appreciation. With their passion for film music from real composers and musicians playing real instruments, they are open to any era that exhibits real orchestral or instrumental music. Whether it's large scale orchestras, small jazz or blues groups, musicals, epics, dramas, westerns, sci-fi or comedy, Golden Age listeners aren't concerned with matters of "old" or "new", but being the most discerning group, they naturally focus more on fine composers than the mediocre or bad ones more prevalent today.

Golden Age listeners are inquisitive, appreciative and more daring in their tastes, and can find musical nourishment even in small amounts of today's film music. There would be few Golden Agers who do not appreciate many Silver or Modern Age scores from fine composers of real music like Goldsmith, Duning, Skinner, Rosenthal, Moross, Fielding, Bernstein, Williams, Glass, Delerue and many, many more. So a Golden Age listener could just as easily be described as an "Ageless" listener, eagerly collecting wonderful scores from all eras, refusing to pigeon-hole their film music horizons into a mere couple of decades. It follows, that with this great breadth of film music awareness, very often cultivated by being present through all or almost every period, Golden Age listeners are generally more demanding of quality and will not be satisfied with mere sound design "scores" cobbled together by technicians rather than musicians of stature. However, they do embrace electronic instruments like, for example the theremin, when there is actually a need to play the instrument rather than pretend there is an instrument when there is none.


SILVER AGE listeners share many of the attributes of their learned Golden Age cousins. Unfortunately, some are actually "Modern Age" zealots in disguise, dipping into the edges of Silver Age as it pleases them, but never venturing further. Thankfully, many dedicated Silver Agers are far more open-minded and explore both earlier and later film music as a matter of course, and can thus enjoy a musical experience almost as wide-ranging and fulfilling as Golden Agers.


Lastly, we have those who are exclusively "MODERN AGE" fans. This group is best known for its dismissal of quality music of the past as being "for old farts" and they often boast a preference for synthetic sound from pretend instruments, pounding away incessantly with no trace of refinement. They also have the impertinence to suggest that the other groups are limited and closed-minded in their tastes, while they themselves rarely venture beyond the bounds of a mere couple of decades. Needless to say, being the Group with the youngest and least mature patronage, their tastes are usually not fully formed and some allowance must be made for this. The members of this group even lambast composers of their own chosen period, if the scores are not noisy enough and do not have a superhero or monster image on the cover of their CD.
In any case, the "Modern Age" is a misnomer when used in conjunction with Gold and Silver ages. More appropriate would be "Tin Age", reflecting better the Tin Ears of its sound-design audiences and exponents.


Hope that helps.




Once again ...... I agree with Basil! Well said! smile

 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 3:34 PM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

Such generalizations and clichés, hilarious! more please. big grin

I wonder which group will betray which group first a la Game of Thrones. wink

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 3:34 PM   
 By:   zooba   (Member)

OLD AGE - You pee a lot, usually not making it to the can in time.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 11, 2013 - 3:38 PM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

OLD AGE - You pee a lot, usually not making it to the can in time.

So that's where the term 'golden' comes from.

 
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