Music, Sound, and the Moving Image

Tantalising Fragments

Scotland’s Voice in the Early Talkies in Britain and Jenny Gilbertson’s The Rugged Island: A Shetland Lyric (1934)

Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (2018), 12, (2), 171–195.

Abstract

This article will consider the tantalising fragments of the Scottish voice in the early talkies, exploring the response of Scottish audiences to various accents and voices, and offering a survey of the films set or produced in Scotland during the period of transition from silent cinema to sound. Particular focus will be given to Jenny Gilbertson’s The Rugged Island: A Shetland Lyric (1934), one of the early Scottish indigenous sound productions that have been largely overlooked in critical accounts of early sound cinema in Britain. As this article will illustrate, the film offers unique insight into the disjuncture between the ambitions of filmmakers in relation to how Scotland might feature on the soundtracks of the early talkies and the reality of what could be achieved given the limitations of the available technologies.

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Neely, Sarah