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09 Dec

Listening to Light Music online

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Over this past summer, since the JIM ceased publication, I have discovered on line another site where one might partake of all varieties of music - serious, light, and popular - namely, X-Box Music, where I was enabled to listen to many examples of light music - familiar and unfamiliar - that at the time were not available for listening on more traditional sites, such as YouTube.

This was a boon for many who were keenly interested in further exploring this genre of music, and my own personal experience has been rewarding to a degree - I have to nonetheless qualify this experience, which I will come to shortly. Unfortunately, this site, offered free to those with a Microsoft account such as myself, has now become a paid site, effective the first of this month. Moreover, in my attempts to share some of the selections I took delight in with others, I discovered that not all of my recipients had equal accessibility to this material.

Happily, much of the material has been appearing en masse on YouTube - not all of what I had discovered as yet at this writing, but hopefully more of it in time, so that I at least can once again start to enjoy my explorations of it, but universal accessibility to those I wish to send it to is still not in place.

This newly rehoused material is listed as "automatically generated on YouTube" which provides no answers for me as far as point of origin. I note that very few views are indicated of such videos and I have seen no posted comments on those aside from my own.

I have additionally noted that when searching for any selection on either X-Box Music or subsequently with these transferred videos on YouTube, I had to be extremely inventive when specifying material - in some cases it had to be done by title, in others by artists, and in still other instances by album title.

There are additional problems, and I couldn't say at this point whether or not this has originated in the manner the information was transmitted to X-Box Music and subsequently transferred to YouTube, or was needlessly jumbled on these sites.

About two dozen albums from the Guild Golden Age of Light Music series are extant on these sites, most of which have been transferred, along with other similar albums. With those featuring multiple artists, there was a mere designation "Various Artists" with little more to go on, and one thus had to work entirely by means of the title, and not know whether it was the desired version or not unless one really delved into the album and opened it. Even worse, where this information was given, artists names were jumbled, so that in one Guild album represented, pairs of artist's names were incorrectly swapped with one another. Two selections appearing in entirely different albums, were similarly incorrectly exchanged. And in one other album (single artist) the selections in the album similarly had their names jumbled, and I here posted a correction for each of these, as I happen to own that particular album.

I am prepared to furnish specifics on the above, should it be desired. However, I would now like to share some of the happy discoveries that I have encountered, both familiar and unfamiliar.

In recent articles I furnished for the JIM publication, I mentioned the original work of both Felton Rapley and Peter Yorke, commenting on both very favorably. As a result of this new source of material, I promptly sought out the work of these two top notch purveyors of light music.

With Felton Rapley, I uncovered only three additional selections beyond what I was already familiar with, all of which I found to be worthwhile and deserving of attention, these were "Fanfare and Cortege," "Ocean Rhapsody', and "Jingles". With Peter Yorke, I'm happy to say, I've come upon three or four full albums of original music of his ostensibly conducted by himself, although I would be hard pressed to distinguish between those performed by his own orchestra and by the Queen's Hall Light Orchestra.

I listened to each of these albums in their entirety. I was amazed by the range shown in his work, although individual trademarks can always be spotted, which makes them for me so endearing, and this without the need to demonstrate any unusual harmonic scheme or melodic shape. By listening to a sufficient number of these selections, one can soon pick up the individual flavor, as would be the case with any notable figure in the field of light music.

Some of these pieces are exceedingly short and were obviously written to illustrate a transient mood in a dramatic scenario, and are not meant to stand on their own. Others, to achieve similar ends, tend to be rather generic in quality (far from unpleasant in that sense). But I must say that there are some pieces that are absolute gems that really do deserve to stand on their own and be listened to for their own sake, such as "Spring Cruise," " Blue Mink," "Little Miss Mink," "Emeralds and Ermine," and "Whipper Snapper." These are titles that come to mind but would hardly exhaust my list.

Also, I have found a Victor Young album entitled "Sugar and Spice" consisting of selections from his earlier years, which album was known to me as "Victor Young and his Concert Orchestra, Volume 2." I recall such titles as "Overnight" and "Latin Rhythm" which are among his best original pieces, and may I add, Mr. Young was quite an accomplished composer of light music selections of this type independently of his work in films which he is better known for.

Many of the original versions of Percy Faith's selections may now be accessed so that one does not have to settle for the bowdlerized, later versions of these. Reuben Musiker, in his wonderful book on the subject of light music, lamented the fact that so many of these artists allowed the essence of their style to cheapen in the interest of commercialization.

One can now listen to David Rose's wonderful rendition of Arlen's "That Old Black Magic" with its very interesting rhythmic accompaniment, and compare it to that by Morton Gould, whose own original (Columbia) recording of it has been on YouTube for years. These two renditions make an interesting comparison, and one would be hard pressed to express a preference and say which one is better. It is simply a matter of how vitally important the arranger's work is compared to the person who simply bangs out the tunes. Incidentally, in this connection, do not overlook Andre Kostelanetz's version of this song either.

I could go on and on, most particularly regarding alternate versions of the same set selections, but I will leave such thoughts for another occasion, as this in itself could conceivably become the subject of another essay.

I will always welcome feedback on any material or opinion that I present.

William Zucker.

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Read 14990 times Last modified on Sunday, 14 December 2014 09:33


  • Jim Stokes posted by Jim Stokes Monday, 09 February 2015 11:11

    Thanks for sharing, William. I've also discovered YouTube's expansions of light music. Some folks have generously posted new selections. In the process, I always have to re-visit Dolf Van Der Linden's recordings--such songs as "Spending Spree" and "Holiday Spirit" always greatly lift my spirits.

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  • Geoff Leonard posted by Geoff Leonard Tuesday, 09 December 2014 19:50

    Excellent piece, William, thanks very much!

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About Geoff 123
Geoff Leonard was born in Bristol. He spent much of his working career in banking but became an independent record producer in the early nineties, specialising in the works of John Barry and British TV theme compilations.
He also wrote liner notes for many soundtrack albums, including those by John Barry, Roy Budd, Ron Grainer, Maurice Jarre and Johnny Harris. He co-wrote two biographies of John Barry in 1998 and 2008, and is currently working on a biography of singer, actor, producer Adam Faith.
He joined the Internet Movie Data-base (www.imdb.com) as a data-manager in 2001 and looked after biographies, composers and the music-department, amongst other tasks. He retired after nine years loyal service in order to continue writing.