March 25, 2011
Family concert 2, Ragtime Xylophonia is this Sunday, and is shaping up to be a really fun day of music and activities! LACO principal timpani Wade Culbreath has been hard at work making the program great. He wanted us to share some really interesting things about percussion being used, the history of the xylophone and George Hamilton Green, the composer of a lot of the music that will be played on Sunday.
First, I wanted to share the list of fun percussion instruments that will be played on Sunday (I am particularly excited about the toy pianos & all animal calls – which Wade says are “rhythmically gifted farm animals” – love it!)
- 1918 Deagan Artist Special Xylophone
- 2 Marimbas
- 4 Toy Pianos
- Bass drum
- Snare drum
- Hi Hat
- Chinese cymbal
- Splash cymbal
- Fight Bell
- Opera gong
- Duck call
Here is some really interesting background information that Wade wanted to share with you:
Information from Wade about the program:
The 1920s were the golden age of the xylophone. It was so immensely popular that it was more common for the average family to own a xylophone than a piano.
I just want to add here – Cool! Do you know anyone who has a xylophone in his/her living room??
Thomas Edison, inventor of the incandescent light bulb, was also the inventor of the phonograph.
This recording process was entirely acoustic and without the aid of electronic amplification. It depended solely on the acoustic sound waves produced by the instrument. Because of the clear and pointed nature of the xylophone, it recorded very well on wax cylinder and many recordings featuring xylophone were produced.
George Hamilton Green
In 1916, Green became soloist with Earl Fuller’s Rector House Orchestra. Popular dance bands in the twenties were proficient at “ragging the melody” and the musicians were adept at “noodling” over the chord changes. The success of this new sound created a new demand for xylophone within the context of the dance band. It wasn’t long before Green was recording for all the major labels of the day including Edison, Victor, and Columbia.
The Jazz Singer was released in October of 1927 and as the first “talkie” (motion picture with synchronized sound), it marked the beginning of the end of the silent movie era. Shortly thereafter in 1928, a young filmmaker named Walt Disney was making a new series of animated films with synchronized sound.. For Steamboat Willie, the first animated motion picture with sound, Disney hired the Green Bros. Novelty Band to perform the soundtrack. They added percussive sound effects to the film and George also played xylophone thereby beginning the long standing relationship between xylophone and animation.
George Hamilton Green’s recordings and method books became the inspiration for generations of mallet players. One of his publications, “New Series of Individual Instruction Courses for Xylophone and Marimba,” is one of the first studies in jazz improvisation.
In 1919 Fox focused especially hard on marketing the one step Fluffy Ruffles.
Its clever rhythm and a whistling melody makes an immediate hit with the dancers, and the number itself looks like one of the best one-step hits we have ever issued. You cannot go wrong on “Fluffy Ruffles,” so get your copy today. “Fluffy Ruffles,” One Step, By George Hamilton Green: “A live, snappy dance number, full of pep and ginger. There is snap and “paprika” in every measure and a “you-just-can’t-keep-your-feet-still” swing to its catchy rhythm and tempo. And there is melody, too—yes—and a happy, humming, whistling melody you will surely like. “Fluffy Ruffles” is indeed a great dance hit. In New York City and the East dance lovers are raving as they dance to its fascinating strains. Its popularity is fast spreading eastward and the best orchestras in the best places are playing “Fluffy Ruffles.” Ask for it tonight. Hear it, buy it, take it home. Get it for your piano, your player piano and your talking machine.
Now that you know all about it – we’ll see you at the concert!