I know about three other lists that got reposted - so no wonder they
are swamped. I heard about it from DAW-MAC which was reposted from a
Cabnadian composer's list, etc...
Lou Judson Intuitive Audio
On Mar 20, 2006, at 12:11 PM, Helen Cornwall wrote:
> They're swamped from people following up this article. I figured out
> the little green icon that looks like part of a puzzle is for
> streaming, which I can't get to work, (firewall?) but if I search on
> the item it gives me the choice to download an MP3, which then plays
> fine on Winamp. Mario Ancona accompanying this email, from 1907...way
> thanks, and if I get weekend time I'll follow up the other
> possibilities. --Hc
> Lou Judson wrote:
>> Here's the actual article:
>> March 19, 2006
>> How Pop Sounded Before It Popped
>> By JODY ROSEN
>> FOR a couple of months now my iPod has been stuck on Stella Mayhew's
>> "I'm Looking for Something to Eat." It's a lurching little waltz-time
>> pop tune, drawled over brass-band accompaniment. The lyric is
>> hilarious, the lament of a gal on a diet who can't stop eating, and
>> it climaxes with a glutton's soul cry: "I want some radishes and
>> olives, speckled trout and cantaloupe and cauliflower/ Some mutton
>> broth and deviled crabs and clams and Irish stew." I can't get it out
>> of my head so far, it's my favorite record of 2006.
>> As it happens, it's also my favorite record of 1909. It is an Edison
>> Phonograph Company wax cylinder, recorded 97 years ago by Mayhew, a
>> vaudeville star who liked to poke fun at her considerable girth. In
>> certain ways, the song is up to date: the satire on dieting is plenty
>> relevant in the early 21st century, and Mayhew's slurred talk-singing
>> is a bracingly modern sound. But the noisy, weather-beaten recording
>> is unmistakably a product of the acoustic era the period from about
>> 1890 to the mid-1920's, before the advent of electric recording
>> when musicians cut records while crammed cheek-by-jowl-by-trombone
>> around phonograph horns in rackety little studios.
>> Mayhew's record is just one of several thousand cylinders, the first
>> commercially available recordings ever produced, that have recently
>> become available free of charge to anyone with an Internet connection
>> and some spare bandwidth. Last November, the Donald C. Davidson
>> Library at the University of California, Santa Barbara, introduced
>> the Cylinder Digitization and Preservation Project Web site
>> (cylinders.library.ucsb.edu), a collection of more than 6,000
>> cylinders converted to downloadable MP3's, WAV files and streaming
>> audio. It's an astonishing trove of sounds: opera arias, comic
>> monologues, marching bands, gospel quartets. Above all, there are the
>> pop tunes churned out by Tin Pan Alley at the turn of the century:
>> ragtime ditties, novelty songs, sentimental ballads and a dizzying
>> range of dialect numbers performed by vaudeville's blackface
>> comedians and other "ethnic impersonators."
>> For decades, these records languished unheard by all but a few
>> intrepid researchers and enthusiasts. Now, thanks to the Santa
>> Barbara Web site and the efforts of a small group of scholars,
>> collectors and independent record labels, acoustic-era popular music
>> is drifting back into earshot, one crackly cylinder and 78 r.p.m.
>> disc at a time. These old records hold pleasant surprises, but they
>> also carry a larger lesson about gaping holes in the story of
>> American pop.
>> While historians have exhaustively investigated blues, jazz, rock and
>> their offshoots, the mainstream pop music of the early 20th century
>> has received only glancing treatment, the victim of a variety of
>> prejudices entrenched in popular music culture. Listeners accustomed
>> to the crispness of modern studio recording have been put off by the
>> primitive sound of the old records, with their limited frequency
>> response and harsh bursts of noise. Pop-song purists have scorned the
>> music as the height of Tin Pan Alley's factory-produced pap the
>> gruesome stuff that came before Jerome Kern, Cole Porter et al.
>> swooped in to transform popular music into a legitimate art form.
>> Nearly everybody has been repelled by the content of songs that date
>> from a time when coarse racial caricature was one of America's
>> favorite sources of amusement.
>> Then there is the anti-pop sentiment that has dominated rock-era
>> historiography, the tendency to trace rock's roots exclusively to
>> folk sources Delta bluesmen, Appalachian balladeers and other
>> romantically hard-bitten bumpkins while dismissing as inauthentic
>> anything with a whiff of Broadway about it. But turn-of-the-century
>> pop was roots music in its own right, and the period that gave us the
>> very first star singers and hit records deserves a central place in
>> the historical narrative.
>> "Acoustic-era music is the historical underdog," said Richard Martin,
>> the co-owner with his wife, Meagan Hennessey, of Archeophone Records,
>> a label that specializes in acoustic-era pop. "These are scratchy
>> records, with 19th-century aesthetics, with racist material all over
>> the place, with artists you've never heard of. This stuff is
>> completely unknown, and it's a treasure trove."
>> Today, a flurry of activity is reviving those antique musical
>> treasures, and strengthening the challenge they present to critical
>> orthodoxy. Archeophone (archeophone.com), a tiny mom-and-pop label
>> based in St. Joseph, Ill., has released dozens of superb compilations
>> chronicling the careers of the period's top recording artists,
>> including Henry Burr, a prolific warbler of sentimental ballads, and
>> the acoustic era's biggest star, Billy Murray, who wrapped his reedy
>> pipes around virtually every hit of the day, including George M.
>> Cohan's "Yankee Doodle Boy" (1905) and Irving Berlin's "Alexander's
>> Ragtime Band" (1911). The label's current top seller is a two-disc
>> feat of audio archaeology, "Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the
>> Recording Industry, 1891-1922," released in conjunction with a
>> groundbreaking book by the historian Tim Brooks.
>> Meanwhile, the Internet is crammed with specialists sharing knowledge
>> and posting audio files of their own collections. By far the biggest
>> online resource is the Santa Barbara site. It took $350,000 and
>> several painstaking years for archivists to digitize the university's
>> vast cylinder collection the third-largest after the Library of
>> Congress's and Syracuse University's using a newly invented
>> electric cylinder player that extracts information from the ancient
>> grooves with startling clarity. The response has been overwhelming,
>> with more than 750,000 songs downloaded and streamed in the four
>> months since the site went up.
>> "I thought the site would be used primarily for scholarly research,"
>> said David Seubert, the project's director. "I had no idea that so
>> many people would want to hear the records."
>> Spend a little time browsing the site and a lost musical world opens
>> to you. The range of music is staggering: whistling soloists,
>> xylophonists playing polkas, John Philip Sousa leading his band
>> through famous marches. Hacks abound tone-deaf songbirds mauling
>> treacly ballads but there are also some real virtuosi. There are
>> dozens of catchy records by Harry Lauder, the Scottish music hall
>> star with a lustrous vocal tone and a flair for comedy. There's the
>> banjoist Vess Ossman, whose fleet-fingered renditions of cakewalks
>> and rags reveal that rhythmically dynamic improvisation entered
>> American music years before the rise of jazz. Pop vocalists like
>> Murray don't exactly swing, but there is a briskness and cheer in
>> their singing that is infectious the sound of American pop
>> shrugging off its Victor Herbert-light opera complex and becoming
>> something definitively Yankee Doodle.
>> It is a commonplace that sitcoms and stand-up comedy are contemporary
>> extensions of vaudeville, but we have lost sight of pop music's
>> vaudeville roots. The popular theater was the main performance outlet
>> for Tin Pan Alley's tunes, and you can hear that vaudeville lineage
>> on acoustic-era records, in the singers' booming,
>> shout-down-the-rafters vocal styles and in lyrics packed with punch
>> lines. It was a time when pop music and comedy were virtually one and
>> the same, and one of the delights of the period's big hits is the
>> glee and unpretentiousness with which they aim for the funny bone.
>> That emphasis on jokes and novelty has done the music no favors with
>> historians who equate art with gravity.
>> But the best of these novelties were artful, with indelible melodies
>> and flashes of wit, and many have endured: "Give My Regards to
>> Broadway," "Yes, We Have No Bananas," "Shine On, Harvest Moon," "The
>> Darktown Strutters' Ball," "Carolina in the Morning." Period
>> recordings of these standards can be revelatory. Consider "Take Me
>> Out to the Ball Game": it's one of the most frequently sung songs in
>> the United States, but few people know the verses on Edward Meeker's
>> 1908 record. It turns out "Take Me Out" was a comedy number about
>> shifting gender roles, starring a baseball-crazed young woman.
>> Katie Casey was base ball mad.
>> Had the fever and had it bad
>> Just to root for the home town crew
>> Ev'ry sou Katie blew.
>> These lines, belted out by Meeker with an audible twinkle in his eye,
>> carry us back the social tumult of the Progressive era, to an America
>> moving swiftly and anxiously into a post-Victorian phase. Songwriters
>> were obsessed with topicality, charting every fad and invention and
>> bubble in the melting pot, and the recordings from the period are
>> unusually rich artifacts far more historically evocative, for
>> instance, than the 32-bar variations on the theme "I Love You" that
>> dominated popular song for years afterwards.
>> Yet most public archives and record companies have been cavalier
>> about conserving these valuable artifacts. (The preservation of
>> silent film reels has been a far bigger priority, although the very
>> earliest records, delicate brown wax cylinders from the 1890's, are
>> far more imperiled.) The most notorious episode occurred in the early
>> 1960's, when RCA dynamited the Camden, N.J., warehouse that held the
>> masters for Victor Records' thousands of acoustic-era 78's. The
>> rubble was bulldozed into the Delaware River and a pier was built
>> atop it: a huge part of our musical heritage, entombed in a watery
>> And while scholars and critics have lavished attention on early roots
>> music recordings no rock snob's record collection would be complete
>> without Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music" and an Alan
>> Lomax field recording or two they have almost completely ignored
>> this other recorded legacy. Pop critics are currently in the throes
>> of post-"rockist" revisionism, thinking through their longstanding
>> biases against commercial pop music. Maybe it's time to look at how
>> those same prejudices, projected back into history, have distorted
>> our vision of pop's distant past.
>> The truth is, beneath their quaint rhythms and lyrics about
>> "spooning" under stretching boughs, acoustic-era songs are
>> thematically quite similar to rock and even hip-hop, awash in sex and
>> dancing and a cheery anti-authoritarianism. (Little wonder that
>> moralists of the day thundered against Tin Pan Alley's "suggestive"
>> songs and the pernicious moral effects of ragtime.) You hear that
>> spirit in the Columbia Quartet's 1911 recording of Irving Berlin's
>> "Everybody's Doing It Now," in the salacious relish with which the
>> singers deliver the lines "Everybody's doing it/ Doing it?/ Doing
>> what?" Berlin's song is nothing less than an anthem of youth
>> rebellion, an ode to kids going nuts doing racy dance moves
>> precisely the kind of song that, according to conventional wisdom,
>> did not crack the pop mainstream until sometime around 1954.
>> Of course, the biggest obsession of songwriters during this period
>> was ethnic pastiche, and you won't get too far into the Web site
>> without bumping up against "How Can They Tell That I'm Irish?," "I'm
>> a Yiddish Cowboy" or "Ching-a-Ling's Jazz Bazaar." And then there are
>> the ubiquitous "coon songs" hundreds upon hundreds of them, filled
>> with racial epithets, chomped watermelon and other grotesqueries. No
>> period in American music has been as bound up with the question of
>> racial representation, and it is embarrassment about minstrelsy more
>> than anything else that that has kept this stuff tucked in the
>> darkest corners of sound archives.
>> "Some of it was probably better forgotten for a while," Mr. Seubert
>> said. "I think coon songs would have been a pretty hard thing for a
>> folklorist to try to resurrect during the civil rights era."
>> Now, though, minstrelsy is a hot scholarly topic, and much of the
>> current interest in the acoustic era revolves around blackface and
>> black performers. By far the most talked-about figure is the
>> brilliant vaudeville singer Bert Williams, the first African-American
>> pop star, who specialized in blackface material. (Archeophone has
>> released three volumes of Williams's recordings.) But if we really
>> want to know acoustic-era pop music, we need to look at the white
>> minstrels, ask some hard questions and rein in our instincts to
>> dismiss their acts as racist trash, full stop.
>> Some of the most compelling voices of the period belong to female
>> "coon shouters" Mayhew, May Irwin, Sophie Tucker who eventually
>> washed the burnt cork off their faces and graduated to a thrillingly
>> insouciant singing style. That style owed everything to minstrelsy
>> but was no longer explicitly "black."
>> Then there are even trickier cases, like that of Al Bernard, a
>> blackface comedian and female impersonator who specialized in
>> fiercely swinging ragtime and minstrel numbers. Are we ready to admit
>> that unequivocally racist songs, delivered by white singers in the
>> thickest possible dialect, might not only be historically significant
>> music, but great music?
>> Students of pop history will be mulling over such questions for some
>> time to come. In the meantime, there are thousands of new records to
>> be listened to some of them more than a century old. "Some of this
>> stuff is dreadful, you'd really rather not listen to it," Mr. Martin
>> allowed. "But there's some really enjoyable stuff along the way."
>> One enjoyable record, which distills the period's pleasing mix of pop
>> hooks, belly laughs and sheer strangeness, is the vaudevillian Eddie
>> Morton's "Don't Take Me Home," a jaunty ragtime novelty about a
>> husband who runs off to war to hide out from his henpecking wife.
>> Morton sings the verses pretty straight, but in the fiendishly catchy
>> chorus "Don't take me home!/ Pleeeease, don't take me home!" his
>> voice ripples across the frantic oompah beat, a long sobbing phrase
>> that's halfway between an Irish tenor's flourish and the yelp of a
>> dog whose tail has been stepped on. It's unclear what impact the
>> record made when it was released in 1908. In 2006, it sounds like a
>> Copyright 2006The New York Times Company
>> Lou Judson Intuitive Audio
>> On Mar 20, 2006, at 6:47 AM, Dick Spottswood wrote:
>>> for modern journalism, an exceptionally insightful piece. Maybe pop
>>> music criticism is finally moving beyond Rolling Stone.
>>> ----- Forwarded by Dick Spottswood/dick/AmericanU on 03/20/2006
>>> 09:47 AM -----
>>> Hank <[log in to unmask]>
>>> 03/20/2006 09:26 AM
>>> Recipient List Suppressed:;
>>> Fwd: NYTimes.com: How Pop Sounded Before It Popped
>>> Date: Mon, 20 Mar 2006 09:06:18 -0500 (EST)
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>>> Message from sender:
>>> This is the site we spoke about a few months ago. I donated 6
>>> cylinders of mandolin music to them. Best Jim
>>> ARTS / MUSIC | March 19, 2006
>>> Music: How Pop Sounded Before It Popped
>>> By JODY ROSEN
>>> An astonishing trove of pop music from 100 years ago is now
>>> available on the Web, opening up a lost musical world that deserves
>>> its place in the historical narrative.
>>> <unknown.gif> <unknown.gif>
>>> 1. Why Do So Few Women Reach the Top of Big Law Firms?
>>> 2. 'American Theocracy,' by Kevin Phillips: Clear and Present
>>> 3. Plight Deepens for Black Men, Studies Warn
>>> 4. Music: How Pop Sounded Before It Popped
>>> 5. Wanted: A Few Good Sperm
>>> » Go to Complete List
>>> Thank You For Smoking opens March 17th
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>>> defending the rights of smokers and cigarette makers in today's
>>> neo-puritanical culture. Confronted by health zealots and an
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>>> <unknown.gif><unknown.gif>Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company