Paramount was one of the last major Hollywood studios to dedicated a stage for scoring. So when pressure built to have a stage converted for recording music, sometime in late 1930, Paramount execs decided to allocate money to take over a small shooting stage turning it into a nice sized scoring stage. The area selected was inside a long building that at one end contained Stage 10, one of the first sound stages built on the Paramount lot. Eventually that building was named after Bing Crosby, and contained offices, a screening room for the music dept. and a looping stage. Rumor had it the entire structure had been moved from the Famous Players-Lasky Studio that was on the corner of Sunset and Vine. Another tall tale was it arrived on a wagon pulled by a team of mules from the corner of Sunset and Gower sometime in 1932. Problem is, there was no stage located on the corner of Sunset and Gower plus the building the scoring stage was eventually located in was built before 1932. I will admit with its V-shaped roof it did resemble the glass walled silent stages that were on the Sunset and Vine lot so who knows? It just might have been disassembled and rebuilt on the Paramount lot. Bit my guess is, both stories are more legend than fact.
The Paramount scoring stage had inside dimensions of 55' x 90' x 30'. As was the case with all the early sound stages designed by Western Electric engineers, a sound monitor booth was installed on the mezzanine level so the sound mixer could be isolated and could look down upon the scene being filmed. That booth was located against the north wall that divided the scoring stage from adjacent Stage 10.
This illustration shows what a typical sound monitor booth looked like:
Views inside typical monitor booths:
Sometime in 1929 before Paramount converted the stage to full time scoring, a Wurlitzer pipe organ was installed, opus 2035. It can be heard in the 1931 version of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. That organ was later sold to NBC where it resided in the studios of KNBC in San Francisco. It's my belief the organ was originally installed to provide 'mood' music to the first six purposefully built sound stages on the lot. Fox Studios at their Movietone facility in West Los Angeles had installed a Wurlitzer (opus 1967) on Stage 1, also before it was converted for scoring. I have an old article describing how that organ could send sound to the first four sound stages built on the lot to provide 'mood' for the actors. I guess very quickly they realized that the need for total quiet on the set precluding such music. When Fox's Stage 1 became the scoring stage, the organ came in handy. It remained at Fox until the late 1990s when it was sold to a private individual. That organ was heard on numerous Fox film scores including THE SOUND OF MUSIC and PATTON.
As for the exact location of the Paramount scoring stage, refer to the following:
Looking down onto the Bing Crosby building on the Paramount lot:
The scoring stage was below and slightly to the right of Stage 10.
A side view of the Crosby Building:
And a diagram showing where the stage was located inside the building:
Next is a photo taken inside the stage in 1950 during the scoring of LET'S DANCE:
It shows the bandshell with its cylindrical columns which was built for the scoring session of THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE for Disney. That bandshell was originally installed on Stage 2 at RKO Pathe in Culver City. Reportedly, Leopold Stokowsky was in on its design. In the early 1940s, Paramount sound dept. head Loren Ryder approached Disney about purchasing it. At that time the bandshell and orchestra risers had been relocated to Stage 1 at Disney where there were used to record the score for BAMBI. Disney had built a smaller scoring stage and was not recording music on the much larger Stage 1 so the bandshell was sold to Paramount.
This angle shows the view towards the back corner:
That's Robert Emmett Dolan conducting with Fred Astaire standing next to him on the podium.
By the mid-1930s, the original sound monitor booth had been relocated to the back wall where it remained until Glen Glenn Sound took over management of the room in the late 1960s, gutted the stage, doing a complete remodel which included bringing the booth out onto the stage.
Here's the front of the relocated booth as seen in the film THE COUNTRY GIRL (1954):
It was quite large as seen in the following three photos taken from the Jerry Lewis film THE ERRAND BOY (1961):
As you can see from the last two photos, the area where the sound mixer sat was elevated slightly. When the booth was moved out onto the stage floor, much of this booth became a looping and later on an ADR stage.
Elmer Bernstein conducting his score for THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956):
It's looking towards the back wall where the sound mixing booth was located. Above it can be seen the glass window of the projection booth.
Elvis on the scoring stage - Jan. 1957:
Elvis leaving the scoring stage building:
As I mentioned, in the late 1960s, Glen Glenn sound took over sound operations on the Paramount lot and decided to gut the old scoring stage. When the drastic remodel was completed, the outcome looked like a set from STAR TREK!:
Glen Glenn christened the stage Studio M (for music). Paramount had never allocated a stage number to their scoring stage.
Large 'floating cloud' panels were hung from the ceiling. The booth was moved out onto the floor of the stage thus robbing it of approximately 20 feet of its length. A large wide screen was installed on the north wall. After the renovation, the stage was no longer suitable for large orchestral scores so many were taken elsewhere. Case in point was PAINT YOUR WAGON which was scored at Goldwyn where the orchestra and chorus added up to well over 100 performers.
Maurice Jarre working on Studio M:
Another huge remodel was done after Glen Glenn transfered operations of the stage to Record Plant in 1982. The booth was altered, the 'floating clouds' floated off to the trash, and new sound panels were installed on the walls along with a new soloist booth in the right corner next to the screen.
Then sometime at a later date after Record Plant handed scoring operations back over to Paramount, another remodel was completed. This included changes to the interior of the stage along with remodeling the booth.
A final renovation was done in the late 1990s where the stage was lengthened by about 15'. This was accomplished by demolishing the north wall, busting up some old concrete film vaults plus the area where the original sound monitor booth had been located. The screen was pushed back. This allowed for a larger number of players to be accommodated.
Here are a view glimpses of how the stage ended up looking like:
The sound quality on the Paramount stage had always been somewhat lacking. But with each renovation the quality somewhat diminished. The room suffered from 'slap echo' which meant standing on the stage and clapping one's hands brought back a flurry of spurious echos instead of a nice gradual decay.
So in 2006, Paramount announced it was closing the stage. It was briefly resurrected when Ocean Way, a local Hollywood recording studio, took over operations. But in September of 2008, the stage was permanently closed. The last score recorded on the Paramount stage was Thomas Newman's for WALL-E in August of 2008. Late in 2008 it was demolished along with the entire Crosby Building (including Stage 10) to make way for a brand new post production center to be managed by Technicolor. It's my understanding that no scoring stage will be part of that operation. That means the stages at Fox, Sony (once MGM) and Warner Brothers are the last scoring stages still in operation in Holywood.