A Gershwin Piano Roll of "Singin' the Blues."

A Gershwin Piano Roll of "Singin' the Blues."

Albert Haim
Albert Haim

August 30th, 2017, 9:56 pm #1

Am I dreaming? Or is this an important discovery?

"Singin' the Blues" is probably the best-known recording of Bix Beiderbecke (and Tram and Eddie and Chauncey). By 1927, when Bix recorded "Singin' the Blues," it was an old song. It had been recorded by the ODJB and there were piano rolls by J. Russell Robinson, one of the composers, Adrian Rollini, who hired Bix in 1927 for his short-lived New Yorkers band, and, last but not least, by none other than George Gershwin.

According tohttp://albumlinernotes.com/The_Piano_Rolls__Vol_2.html
"2. Singin’ The Blues (Till My Daddy Comes Home) (4:32)
(Con Conrad and J. Russel Robinson / Lyrics: Sam Lewis and Joe Young)
Fox-Trot, played by George Gershwin, December 920 (I think a typo; 1920), Mel-O-Dee 4133
A hit of 1920, the tune was written by Con Conrad (a.k.a. Conrad Dober of the Lower East Side) and James Russel Robinson, who worked with musician/composers Noble Sissle and W.C. Handy.

The piano roll precedes "Rhapsody in Blue" by a little over three years.

The two-and-a-half octave solo clarinet glissando opening Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is one of the great icons of 20th century music and one of the best known bars in music.


According to Wikipedia, "The opening clarinet glissando came into being during rehearsal when; "... as a joke on Gershwin, [Ross] Gorman (Whiteman's virtuoso clarinettist) played the opening measure with a noticeable glissando, adding what he considered a humorous touch to the passage. Reacting favourably to Gorman's whimsy, Gershwin asked him to perform the opening measure that way at the concert and to add as much of a 'wail' as possible."

I thought Gershwin wrote the intro to Rhapsody in Blue in 1924 when he was getting ready for the Aeolian Hall legendary concert of Feb 12, 1924.

But listen to the first few seconds of the Singin' the Blues Gershwin piano roll. It sounds to me like Gershwin conceived of the first few notes of the intro to Rhapsody in Blue in 1920! Is this old hat or new?
Finally, listen to the last few seconds at 4:25. What do you hear?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrytxC2ucA0

Albert
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David Logue
David Logue

August 31st, 2017, 12:57 am #2

Near the end I hear a series of notes that sound very similar to a strain of music from "Donkey Serenade".
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Mark Gabrish Conlan
Mark Gabrish Conlan

August 31st, 2017, 2:50 pm #3

Gershwin's "Singing the Blues" piano roll is an interesting performance that shows him torn between the demands of the roll companies that their players stay within the printed notes as much as possible and his own desire for freedom to vary and improvise. The most interesting part of the performance is about four seconds, starting at 1:09, in which Gershwin sounds oddly "Bixian" even though Bix wouldn't record for another four years: it probably reflects their shared interest in French Impressionist composers like Debussy and Ravel. And the reference to "The Donkey Serenade" shouldn't be surprising, since Rudolf Friml had written "The Donkey Serenade" in 1912 and it had been a huge hit.

Later piano-roll companies figured out a way to create note-perfect renditions of popular songs just by cutting the right notes in a master roll, without the intervention of a human performer at all!
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

September 1st, 2017, 2:48 pm #4

Near the end I hear a series of notes that sound very similar to a strain of music from "Donkey Serenade".
Thre pieces juxtaposed:

- Donkey Serenade
- Gershiwn's piano roll of Singin' the Blues
- Gershwin at the piano in Rhapsody in Blue.

http://picosong.com/wsteB

Albert
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