In a brief scene in the 1931 Warner Bros. horror film, Svengali, an aging heiress takes voice lessons, falls in love with her teacher, and upon finding her love unrequited and her voice uninspired, throws herself in the river. That the film hastily banishes her for these infractions isn’t much of a surprise, for we don’t tend to remember bad voices, nor do we dwell on older women who would dare possess them. In fact, were it up to Hollywood, we’d hardly dwell on older women at all.
Among this year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture were two films with drum scores: Whiplash, in which a highly regarded but abusive conductor molds an aspiring young jazz musician into the genius he was meant to be, and Birdman, in which an aging film actor who was never a genius at all stars in a play and possibly flies. In spite of their innovative soundtracks, neither film received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Score.