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October, 2000 Edition
In Search of American Popular Song;

Sunday Newspaper Supplements
& Digital Reconstruction/Preservation

We have mentioned a number of times that one of our main objectives is to preserve music and manuscripts that are in danger of being lost to us forever. Parlor Songs was founded on the idea of preserving this music and bringing it back into the public consciousness.

No where does the need for preservation become more apparent than with music that was printed as a part of newspapers, particularly Sunday music supplements. From as early as the late 1800's, newspapers began including sheet music as a bonus item in the Sunday newspapers. Though some of the supplement music were reprints of already published popular songs, much of this music was especially written for the newspapers and as such represent a very limited distribution. Some became popular, and others faded into obscurity. In all cases, music printed on newsprint was either thrown out with the rest of the paper, used to wrap fish or line bird cages. The remainder that survived has come down to us mostly in ghastly condition.

There are two things that contribute to the rapid deterioration of these rare and valuable manuscripts. Both revolve around the medium they are printed on, newsprint. The first problem is simply that newsprint is a light weight paper that is not resistant to tearing and other damage. As a result, much of what we have is in very poor condition. The more the paper was used, the more likely it was damaged. The second, and more deleterious problem is that newsprint is typically produced with wood pulp, rather than the cotton fiber of bond paper. Newsprint is highly acidic and as a result, over time the acid content literally breaks the paper down till it is brittle and simply falls to pieces.

As a result, unless preserved either chemically or digitally, these items will simply turn to dust. All of the music presented this month is in extreme distress. Though some of it was lovingly and carefully cared for, the acid has nearly destroyed the paper. The result has required us to significantly reconstruct some of the sheets and preserve them digitally. As I worked with this month's songs, they literally were falling apart in my hands. We present to you two views of each cover this month. A reconstructed one and the original so you can see what was done to preserve them. You will be able to see the second image by placing your mouse over the cover image, move the mouse off and the original image returns. In addition, since reconstruction and preservation is our goal, be sure to read this month's essay about the process of digital reconstruction and preservation. We think you will find it interesting.

This month we continue our new format for the presentation of our music, SCORCH. Scorch is a plug in for your browser that will allow you to not only listen to our songs but to view the playing, real time on sheet music WITH LYRICS! Though we often find plug-ins to be annoying, this is one that we guarantee will be well worth the time to download and install.

It won't be much longer that we will be able to provide midi versions, so be sure to get the scorch player now as all music from here on out will be in the Sibelius format. So, to get started, download the Scorch player from Sibelius right now, then enjoy an astounding musical experience! The player is available for Mac and PC so all of you can enjoy the experience, regardless of platform! The player is free and only takes a minute to download once you get to the Sibelius site, click on the "scorch" menu item to download. Just click on the button to go to the Sibelius site and get your free plug-in
.

ATTENTION WEB-TV USERS!
We want to continue to provide you with access to our music. We know that the Scorch player will not work with WEB-TV and are working on an alternative way for you to continue to listen to our music.
Much of our design of this site was done with WEB-TV in mind and we appreciate all of you and your visits to our site. Please be assured, we want you to continue to enjoy ParlorSongs so please keep visiting us. We will continue to provide the midi versions of our music for you until we have explored all options.




The Heaven-Born Banner
1906

Music by: Gertrude Hoffman
Lyrics by: Vincent Bryan
Cover artist: H.B. Eddy

(Note, all cover image links now require the "SCORCH" player to play the midi file)This is one of the "younger" of the supplements we are featuring this month. It is also one that in better condition than most. It apparently was well taken care of and stored carefully for it has remained fairly intact. If you place your cursor over the image, you will see the condition of the original and by comparing the two images, you can see what we have done to restore the image. The damage to these comes in two forms, first, color loss and a general tendency towards less contrast and a monochromatic look. Though this one has managed to retain some of its original color, others this month are much worse. The second problem is the aforementioned acidity of the paper.

The song here is a wonderful patriotic song "dedicated to the school children of America". It is intended to teach some lessons about the flag. I found the melody to be terrific and in my opinion this song should have lasted and stayed in the repertoire. Why didn't it? I think it is mainly because the publication of a song in a newspaper resulted in very little circulation, usually just in a localized area. I also believe it is due to the throw away nature of these publications. It is likely only the most dedicated music lovers saved these and as a result, the songs simply faded from public consciousness. As a result, these supplement editions are rare and especially in need of preservation.

When you listen to this song, how can you deny its musical originality and freshness almost one hundred years later? It is a real treasure and we are happy to be able to revive it for you and preserve it for our future.

Listen to this wonderful children's march (SCORCH format)


listen to MIDI version

 

Dooley's Alibi
1902
Music by: Henry Waller
Lyrics by: Robert M. Burnside
Cover artist: H.B. Eddy

This work also appears to be in fair shape when you look at the restored image versus original image (place your cursor on the cover image). However, the acid in the paper has made this one so brittle that each time I have had to handle it to play the music or read it, large sections of the edges have simply fallen off in my hands. I have treated this one as well as the others in the worst condition with a commercial archival spay that buffers the acid but unfortunately, the damage has already been done. We can only arrest further decay.

The music here is a song that is from a stage play, "The Emerald Isle" and it states "As Sung By Jefferson De Angelis". De Angelis was a popular vaudeville performer around the turn of the century, often portraying Irish characters as in this song. De Angelis was responsible for many songs becoming hits however this one did not seem to last. Despite a rather extensive reference library, I cannot find this song listed anywhere nor can I find any reference to the composer.

Musically, the song is rather simple but not unpleasant. It has a rather insistent and repetitive rhythm and melody that wears thin after a while but it is the lyrics that rule with this song. A very catchy story about a man caught in some rather questionable circumstances involving another man's horse and his court appearance for horse theft. Be sure to use the scorch player and read the lyrics as it plays, it is quite an entertaining story.

Hear this old Irish delight (scorch format)

listen to MIDI version

 


When Someone Pulls The String
1897
Music & Lyrics by: Charles Hoyt
Cover artist: Brisley

This is the oldest of the newspaper supplements we have and may be one of the earliest ever. Interestingly, it is in the best shape of the entire group we have in our collection. The paper is a heavier paper and apparently was a less acidic batch for the deterioration is less noticeable and the paper seems less sensitive to handling.

Musically, this is another delight and the lyrics are so true, even today. You have to read them carefully, especially the second stanza which is the real payoff. The composer and lyricist, Charles Hoty was a very popular composer whose most lasting hit is The Bowery from 1892. That song was later used in the 1945 film Sunbonnet Sue and was the basis for a ballet sequence in the John Phillip Sousa biographical film The Stars and Stripes Forever. Born in 1860 in Concord, NH, Hoyt was most well known as a playwright and in fact, this song is from his A Stranger In New York. He wrote a number of hit plays, mostly farces and as you can see from these lyrics, had a rather acerbic wit.

The cover photo is of Harry Connor who is credited on the cover as having sung this song in Hoyt's play. The cover art on this piece almost appears to be hand painted in watercolor rather than printed. The colors have a soft, pleasing pastel quality to them. The overall artwork by the artist is quite detailed and delicate showing a great deal of care and attention.

Listen to this great old song (scorch format only)

Listen to MIDI version

 

Psyche
1902
Music by: Edward W. Corliss
Cover artist: unknown, photo by Marceau, NY

This work is another show tune from a play entitled Show Girl by the composer. This is not to be confused with the later Show Girl from 1929 which was a huge flop. Apparently though, this one was a flop too since I can find no reference to this version nor the composer, I guess we have to assume that this show and song very quickly became obscure.

The song is a very faced paced and melodically pleasant one. Regrettably, I can find no information about the writer, the show, the performer (Katheryn Hutchinson, in inset photo) or anything else about this tune. The newspaper that published the song (and several others from the collection) The New York American and Journal, has also gone with the wind.

Hear this upbeat show tune (scorch)


Listen to MIDI version

 


Good Bye, Teddy!
1904
Music by: John W. Bratton
Lyrics by: Paul West
Cover artist: unknown, Photo by Pach, NY

It is appropriate, as this year's presidential campaign reaches its end to feature a political song. Of course today, campaigns select an existing pop song to use as a theme; in days of yore, they actually wrote special songs. This song shows the typical bravado of a party in assuming that its candidate will win. Who was Alton B. Parker (the man in the cover photo)?

I suppose it is appropriate that I found information about Mr. Parker at a site called "The Political Graveyard", ouch! From that site, here is his basic vital data:

Parker, Alton (Brooks) (1852-1926) of Esopus, NY Born May 14, 1852. Chief judge of New York Court of Appeals, 1897-1904; Democratic candidate for President of the United States, 1904; delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1912. Died May 10, 1926. Interment at Wiltwyck Cemetery, Kingston, NY

The song here, published in 1904 during the election campaign, basically tells Teddy Roosevelt to move out of the White House because Alton Parker is going to win the election. Sorry Alton, not this time.

The composer of this work, John W. Bratton, fared a little better than Mr. Parker in his chosen career field. Born in Wilmington, Delaware in 1867, Bratton enjoyed substantial popularity in the 1890's. Along with lyricist Walter H. Ford he penned I Love You In The Same Old Way, Darling Sue in 1896 and a number of other hits during the nineties. Bratton died in 1947 in Brooklyn, NY.

The condition of this cover is relatively good with very little reconstruction needed. I mainly just had to eliminate some of the "noise" and stains and add some contrast and clarity.

Enjoy this great political work (scorch)

Listen to MIDI version

We hope you are enjoying this month's feature. For more great songs and stories about the "Sunday Supplements" go to part B.



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