Many Berlin biographers have addressed the machinations of Hollywood, but few have done it in as illuminating a fashion as Furia. I will return to the latter topic when lyrics analysis is addressed. For years it was reported in Berlin biographies that the song originated as a piano march—an instrumental composition sans lyrics. However, more recently, Charles Hamm argued that the song version actually came first, and only later was adapted into an instrumental two-step. Supporting evidence includes not only the facts of the copyright dates the instrumental version was copyrighted a half-year after the song , but also the structure of the piano version, which is peculiar when compared to most marches and rags, and suggests an adaptation of an earlier song.
Thus, from onward, one can at least say that a song was number X according to that particular source. For songs released beforehand, however, there is no consistent way to derive such a ranking. True, some books have tried to conjure numbers for songs of these earlier periods—e. But, in fact, it rose no higher than no.
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These rankings are accurate although they are actually from the broadcast of 5 October. Given his prior writings, it will come as no surprise that he devotes his energies more to the lyrics when analyzing songs—and indeed, his best original contributions are tendered from this perspective. He generally takes one of four approaches:. It gave the singer a chance to hoot with sheer joy.
It invited the roomful to join in the hilarious shout. In other instances, Furia nicely illuminates lyrics through the broader context he provides. Ultimately, everything was shot in black-and-white, but the proposed shift in film type had prompted Berlin to write a song that couched love in terms of a prismatic epiphany.
For instance, during the First World War, which witnessed songs of such sweeping conviction as George M. With microphones and prerecording, however,.
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Consider his coupling of Berlin and the eighteenth-century satirist, Alexander Pope page He asserts that. In contrast, the refrain is precisely the song that he sings to her. I will begin by reminding the reader that the song is in AABA form, with each A section beginning in minor and turning, at its very end, to the relative major.
The A sections tend toward longer note values, while the B section accelerates the pace rhythmically. Nothing but blue skies from now on.
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He writes, about the bridge:. Given his interest in song analysis, I suppose he felt that a focus only on lyrics—the subject of his more circumscribed prior writings—would be inequitable. Yet, in expanding his discourse beyond his demonstrated expertise, he introduces numerous misleading and even incorrect musical assertions. Ironically, had Furia eschewed purely musical commentary altogether, his approach to song analysis might have been criticized as one-sided, but at least his book would have been devoid of its most disappointing feature.
Indeed, it is a precarious property. Furia reiterates the strictures of the formal scheme over and over, as if chanting some sort of numeric mantra:. The problem, of course, is that although Berlin and other period songwriters did tend to fall back on an ingrained thirty-two bar, AABA or ABAB template, there were many other patterns employed.
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Its principal motivic material infuses all phrases, such that a letter-scheme representation would be difficult. That is, as written, the quarter note carries the beat in the song; its familiar opening phrase of sixteen measures is written in long note values, including several notes that are held for five beats. It could have been notated as eight measures, however, with the eighth note carrying the beat. Indeed, its opening sixteen-bar phrase presents 39 syllables of lyrics, which is not far afield from the number of syllables fitted to some eight-bar phrases. I suspect that he derived his formal description from Wilder, who declared the same scheme; 17 if so, one might not blame Furia from trusting a writer who was himself a songwriter.
In fact, Furia had just discussed some of the common period images of women, as found on the covers of Vogue and other magazines, making my comparison perhaps more apt than his. In fact, the bridge of the song simply has four bars of III. The chord is not tonicized; instead, these measures hover on that single accompanying harmony, with appropriate melodic alterations, before heading to the dominant chord in preparation for a repeat of the initial section.
A triumph worth trumpeting. Louis Post-Dispatch "Sophisticated, literate A welcome addition to the sparse lyrics-as-literature shelf. A good history of American popular culture. Overall, pleasure reading and then some.
The Poets of Tin Pan Alley: A History of America's Great Lyricists / Edition 1
Along comes Mr. Furia's admirable study to provide more than ample documentation. It goes without saying that any professional or would-be lyricist ought to eagerly devour every page, but even those who pay more disinterested attention to the popular arts will be fascinated by this insightful analysis. It is well researched and contains much fascinating information. I recommend it. Help Centre. Track My Order. My Wishlist Sign In Join.
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Description Product Details Click on the cover image above to read some pages of this book! Industry Reviews "[A] fascinating history of the popular lyricists JPY : The Autobiography.