This survey represents in very brief form an investigation of several factors which contribute to the effective use of sound films in music education. The introduction briefly discusses the rise of the 16mm. motion picture from its conception through its early development and ungainly adolescence and finally to its maturity and a contributing factor in the education of our society. The sound film has proved itself in the field of education and aesthetics.
In order to discover reasons for the failure of the sound film to achieve its full potential, this study has brought together pertinent information relating to every phase opf the sound film from its beginnings to its final role in the classroom as a teaching aid. This has been accomplished by investigation the entire production and reproduction process.
The first area investigated was related to the production of sound films. The investigation included examination of equipment specifications and letter inquiries relative to the matter of sound recording and reproduction. These revealed man of the factors which affect the final film print used in the classroom. 16mm. sound recording, according to specifications of equipment and replies from the manufacturers, is fully capable of high fidelity. The music educator can feel confident that, as a general rule, an poor sound tracks he may be forced to reproduce and not a fault of the original sound recording, but and to be found in the subsequent process of printing and classroom reproduction technique.
The second area investigated was related to the laboratory methods employed in the production of sound films. This investigation did not include the chemistry of photography. More concern was given to the types of sound recording best suited for music recording and reproduction. Letter inquires relative to the capabilities of the 16mm. sound film and examination of the literature proved beyond doubt that high- fidelity music films can be and are being processed every day.
The third area investigated was related to the sound projector and its capabilities. The examination of the equipment specifications and the letter inquiries did not reveal the possibilities of the highest fidelity reproduction. However, according to projector specifications studied, sound reproduction should be quite acceptable. The range of frequencies and the dynamic fluctuations, although not so high as most music educators would desire, as quite acceptable to the normal musical ear. Additional equipment may be purchased which will increase both the frequency and dynamic range of the 16mm. reproduction to a point which is quite comparable to 35mm.
The fourth area investigated was related to the actual showing-room conditions, the operation of the reproduction equipment by the teacher and/or operator, and teaching techniques involved in the use of the sound film. More variables exist in this area than any of the other three. Thirteen classroom situations were selected from the Central and Eastern sections of Kansas and observations made of the conditions that exist when sound films are being reproduced. Each observation was classified in three ways, the showing room, the operation techniques and the teaching techniques. In general the showing rooms were not suitable for showing sound films. However, ignorance and neglect on the part of teachers and/or operators prevent what could be considered quite acceptable showing conditions.
The techniques of the operators represented additional detriments to the over-all good of the sound film. The techniques of sound reproduction are not considered important by most operators and any sound coming from the speaker is supposed to represent the best that can be expected. Some of the films were found to reproduce quite acceptably when the volume and tone were adjusted properly.
Lastly, the teaching techniques were examined by discussing with the teacher what preparation he himself had made previous to the showing, how the students had been prepared, and what the nature of the follow-up was to be. From this discussion pertaining to methodists of utilizing the sound film and operation of the actual closer procedure, it was found that for the most part teachers are using the sound film as a substitute for them selves rather than as a means to supplementing their own teaching procedures.
The complaint that sound on film for music education is usually not fit for reproduction may have some basis. A closer analysis, however, indicates that much of the trouble is not primarily with the film itself but with conditions under which it is used. It has been demonstrated often that a film that proved very unsatisfactory in one instances proved highly satisfactory when used under optimum conditions.
The teacher must not be blamed for every unsatisfactory showing of sound films for in some instances the recorded sound is not good and could not be reproduced satisfactorily under any conditions. This type of trouble may be traced to the film laboratory where mass production methods are employed in duplicating the master negative. There is a great demand of positive prints and in the rush many of the laboratories may be slighting the photographic to the extent that high-frequency response during reproduction on the projector is impossible.
The sound film is a worthy teaching aid. In many responses it surpasses actual experience. It exerts a powerful influence on its audience. When properly produced and wisely presented, it can be an effective classroom teaching aid. When neglected, it becomes a mediocre means of entertainment. It is only diligent and concerted effort on the part of the music teachers that will bring into production the films so sorely needed. It is only through application of the best known techniques of showing setup, operation procedure, and effective use of subject matter content that the sound film can be made to achieve its full potential.