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MMD > Archives > August 2000 > 2000.08.05 > 06Prev  Next

Identifying Band Organ Tunes
By Matthew Caulfield

Dan Robinson's post about the film "Chances Are" [000804 MMD], in
which the band organ plays the selection "Maytime Waltzes" from
Wurlitzer roll 6511, brought back an old memory of my involvement
with that tune in that movie.

The Library of Congress (LC) occasionally received inquiries from
broadcast, recording, or film legal departments asking for help in
identifying particular musical compositions for the purpose of getting
clearances from the owner of the rights so that the music could be
broadcast or otherwise used.  I became known inside LC as being pretty
good at identifying band organ tunes.  One of the inquiries I was
brought in on was the identification of the background music used in
the carousel scene in "Chances Are."

I was given a tape of the sound track section containing the band organ
music and asked to identify the "two tunes" played on it.  It was easy
to recognize the snippet before the fade-out as being Sigmund Romberg's
"Maytime Waltzes" (Sept. 25, 1917).  But the snippet after the fadeout
had me stumped.  It was familiar, although it was obscured by Cybill
Shepherd's dialog.  But I couldn't place the tune.  I played it over
and over until the dialog drove me crazy and the tune was drilled into
my memory -- but no luck, even after I spent a whole weekend going
through my band organ tapes trying to pin down that second tune.

On Monday I had to report to LC's Archive of Folk Song (which had
received the "Chances Are" studio's inquiry) that I was 50% successful,
but failed in identifying the second tune.  A few days later it hit me
that there _was no_ "second tune" and that, if there hadn't been the
fadeout right where it was, I would have recognized that it was all
part of "Maytime Waltzes," one of those compositions where there is a
difference in its sections, rather like the trio in a march which can
fool you if you detach it from the rest of the piece.

Luckily the information got to the movie studio's legal department in
good time, allowing the Glen Echo band organ to be immortalized in the
Downey/Shepherd film.  Incidentally, it was only months later that I
learned of the film's connection with Glen Echo.

Matthew Caulfield

(Message sent Sun 6 Aug 2000, 00:20:25 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Band, Identifying, Organ, Tunes

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