Accustomed though we are to speaking of the films made before 1927 as “silent”, the film has never been, in the full sense of the word, silent. From the very beginning, music was regarded as an indispensable accompaniment;
when the Lumiere films were shown at the first public film exhibition in the United States in February 1896, they were accompanied by piano improvisations on popular tunes. At first, the music played bore no special relationship to the films; an accompaniment of any kind was sufficient. Within a very short time, however, the incongruity of playing lively music to a solemn film became apparent, and film pianists began to take some care in matching their pieces to the mood of the film.