The courtships of ada and len: Mediated musicals and vocal caricature before the cinema

Jacob Smith*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Ada Jones and Len Spencer were the stars of many musical comedies released by a modern media industry during the first decade of the twentieth century. The reason you probably haven’t heard of these media texts is that they were not performed onstage or produced by the film industry. Jones and Spencer were stars of the phonograph industry, and their records are some of the earliest media texts to combine a narrative with musical numbers and to juxtapose dramatic dialogue and singing. The Jones and Spencer records are a missing link between the nineteenth-century stage and the cinema, and so they recast the history and theory of the modern musical. At the same time, they are an archive of sonic texts that allow us to hear the Hollywood musical in a new way and to listen to musical performance styles both beyond and before the cinema.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Cinematic Listening
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780190853617
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021


  • Ethnicity
  • Musical
  • Performance
  • Phonography
  • Sound
  • Vaudeville
  • Voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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