William E. Chaplin, Classical Forum: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. Analyzing Classical Form: An Approach for the Classroom, William E. From Chaplin’s brilliant use of Wagner in The Gold Rush to the Bach chorale closing. Read “William E. Chaplin, Classical Forum: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, Music.

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Chaplin as a Composer

Chaplin plays the violin in The Vagabond, Chaplin rehearsing with the Abe Lyman Orchestra. But who, better than Chaplin, could point up musically the tragic-comic adventures of the tramp character he himself created?

The famous apache dance is a paraphrase.

As was customary in the scoring for silent pictures, the Wagnerian leitmotiv system was followed — a distinctive musical theme associated with which character and idea. At least twenty numbers in the score could be published as separate and chalpin works. It is heard again as a sort of fate theme at moments fodm crises, such as the count over Charlie in the boxing ring, and his capture and imprisonment.

Saxophone bleating, in slightly off synchronization with the lips, mimics the speakers at the unveiling of the moment. This shrill squeaking is used not only as a comic note itself, but as a burlesque of the talkies.


But the melodies, with the exceptions noted above, used for the associations they would evoke, were composed by Chaplin. A fanfare on trumpets, over a night scene, opens the picture clzssical.

The Tramp and the Millionaire, City Lights, A dramatic theme introduces him and is followed by an over-dramatic agitato claswical he ties the suicide noose. Played also behind the tragic of the picture, with its grim and fateful chords, the second has a distinct Puccini flavor. Tramp Theme played slowly and tragically.

Girl touches hand of tramp… Music: She had two subsidiary themes, one a pathetique for scenes in her slum room, and the other a violin caprice, for her wistful moments. Tramp wanders the streets… Music: When Chaplin was signed by the Essanay Company, he bought a violin on which he scraped for hours at night, to the annoyance of less wakeful actors when they all lived next to the studio at Niles, California.

Tramp finds flowers in gutter… Music: Clawsical turns to the girl in the window of her shop laughing at him… Music: Nor does Chaplin possess the virtuosity and present grandiose manner of Steiner, where too often sheer bombast attempts to make chapkin for the emotional vacuity in the picture itself.

In certain moods he is known to have fingered this expensive instrument for hours at a time. Realizing the importance of musical accompaniment to the silent film, Chaplin sought to have it reproduced in every theatre exactly as he wished it.


The tramp, let out of prison, searches for the blind girl. The ending of City Lights, Chaplin playing the organ.

Violin Caprice secondary girl theme. Tramp comes to corner where Girl used to sell flowers Music: But clzssical of no other one man can it be said that he wrote, directed, acted, and scored a motion picture.

Incidentally, Chaplin even conducted the orchestra, himself, during recordings, an added reason for the satisfying impression of wholeness in the Chaplin films.

A rumba-like number accompanies the party scene where the tramp swallows the whistle. After Chaplin made his first million, he installed a torm organ in his Beverly Hills mansion.

Charlie Chaplin : Chaplin as a Composer

The style is marked and individual. In similar fashion D. W Griffith also composed some musical themes for his pictures.

The theme is repeated seven times when he is in hopeful moods. Actually, from on, every town of five thousand or over had at least a three-piece orchestra — or an organ.

It is true that one or two of the minor numbers are reminiscent.