Monday, August 18, 2003

Tin Pan Alley

Joyce used a number of songs from Tin Pan Alley
in his works.

Tin Pan Alley was an area in NY populated by
popular music publishers and song writers who
developed the idea - now prevalent in the pop
music world - that hit songs could be made
through the fine art of plugging.

Imagine the year 1900 : no records, no cds, no top
40, no MTV, no radios; yet even in that era there
were songs that sold a million copies - of sheet
music! The music movers and shakers from 1890 -
1920 had to be especially creative in getting their
songs before the public. One technique was to hire
boys to stand around in front of music stores and
saloons whistling their tunes over and over and
over. Another much used technique was to hire a
“stooge” or “boomer”, usually a clear voice tenor or
soprano who would sit in the galley of a of a concert
hall. When the performer had finished the song to
be plugged, the boomer would then stand, as if
inspired by the song and repeat the chorus. The idea
was to get the audience to join in, thus reinforcing
the song in their memories.

That might be why most Americans know the chorus
to songs like Take Me Out to the Ball Game, but not
the verses. Take Me Out was not one of the songs
Joyce used in his works but several other Tin Pan Alley
hits are, including Sweet Rosie O'Grady, My Irish Molly-O,
Daisy Bell and When Irish Eyes are Smiling.

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