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October 06

The Jazz Singer debuted on this day in 1927.

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The Jazz Singer debuted on this day in 1927.

Grades 5 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Historical Figure & Event





On October 6, 1927, The Jazz Singer, which is generally considered the first "talkie" film, premiered. While the film was still mostly silent, it did contain sections of prerecorded and synchronized dialogue and music, which movie audiences had not heard before. Though sound in film was dismissed as a fad at the time, The Jazz Singer's memorable line "you ain't heard nothin' yet" clearly pointed to the future of film-making.





As a warm-up activity, ask students to think about a movie that they have seen quite a few times and describe the sound in the movie. Prompt students to think about music, sound effects, and dialogue. Most likely, students will find this activity difficult; we often do not pay attention to the sound in a movie.

Select a short scene from a film (see List of Suggested Scenes) and play the clip once with the sound on the television turned all the way down. Ask students to predict what sounds they expect to hear and why. Then play the clip again with the sound turned up. Have students compare the sounds that they heard with their predictions. Also ask students to write about how the scene was different when they could hear the sound; in other words, how did the sound affect them while watching the movie (e.g., more suspenseful, scary)?




  • The Arrival of Sound Film: The Jazz Singer

    This website provides a clip from The Jazz Singer showcasing the sound elements of the film, along with a few characteristic silent film elements.



    This site includes some interesting articles and video interviews about how sound is used in movies. Students may find the page on clichéd sounds to be particularly interesting.


  • The Marriage of Sight and Sound: Early Edison Experiments with Film and Sound

    This page from the Library of Congress American Memory historical collections discusses Edison's early attempts to unite sight and sound in film.


  • The Music of Al Jolson

    This website contains a brief biography of The Jazz Singer star Al Jolson, along with sheet music of some of his most popular songs.



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Grades   7 – 12  |  Activity & Project

Music in Movies: You Pick the Soundtrack

Explore how music can have an emotional impact on a scene in a movie, then help teens write and film a scene of their own.


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