The three basic categories of sound are dialogue, sound effects and, music. Dialogue, is the interaction of speaking between the characters, sound effects are the sounds added to the film that produce the various noises concerned with the scene, such as shooting, bombs, reve of engines, and any sounds that are needed to complete the scene, the music is used to underscore the action on the screen, if it’s a happy scene the music become happy, the worst music is the one which signals a horror scene or murder. “The first microphones for recording sound were clumsy and bulky and produced poor sound quality” (Dixon & Foster, 1950, p.94).
The different categories of sound are all used in Stagecoach. The impact of sound in establishing the theme was the use of dialogue between the different characters of eight different people traveling on a stagecoach from Tonto, to Lordsburg, New Mexico in 1855. The dialogue tends to be with a western type of accent since Stagecoach is of the Western Genre. How these people all changed during this journey is the heart of the movie. The people ranged from a Virginia lady of high class, to the other lady, who was a saloon girl not considered at the start of the trip to be a lady. Stagecoach, was filmed in 1939 and is in black and white. John Ford Directed the film and he used sound to set each scene by the type of instruments used.
“Characters talking to one another in films, known as dialogue, is now so much a part of the movie experience that audiences take it for granted. But creating a scene in which characters talk to one another as they do in real life is no easy task” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014, p.201).
Sound effects used were hoof beats, the horsewhip, shooting bullets, screams of the Apaches in their war cries. “Before there use in films, sound effects were used in radio for years to add realism to the broadcast. Crumpling cellophane may have been used to make the sound of fire, a doorbell in the studio might indicate the arrival of a visitor, and more” (Goodykoontz & Jacobs, 2014, p.204).
The music in the film was classical during the running of the horses pulling the stagecoach the music added fear and danger to the scenes as the stagecoach raced on, in the dance hall there was a piano player, who played old time piano music and in the scene at Apache Wells, the Apache wife the the Mexican station master sang to the Vaqueros, warning them to leave because the Apache’s were on the way. All the music contributed to a fast-paced film that along with the characters creates fear along the trail to Lordsburg.
“At it’s root, film is a visual medium, after all, but scored are not just tossed off ditties, some become classics in their own right, and imposers become important assets to interpreting
the film” (GoodyKoontz & Jacobs, 2014, p.206).
The sound effects in Stagecoach were realistic, as was the dialogue, and the music that was part of the movie. If the dialogue changed, the theme of the movie and the importance that was placed on the characters learning the good in their fellow passengers would have destroyed the point of the movie.
Dixon, W.W. & Foster, G.A., (1950) A Short History of Film,
GoodyKoontz, B. & Jacobs, C. P. (2014). Film From Watching to Seeing, Bridgepoint Education, Inc. San Diego, CA: