| In the development of film music for the Hal Roach Studios, 1930
was a key year. During the spring and early summer, there was
a revolutionary change in the use of background music. It is useful
to take a closer look at the chronology of events during those
The first music by Shield appears in the Charley Chase comedy
Whispering Whoopee in the form of some untitled background piano
music. This was in March 1930.
Then, in May, two Charley Chase comedies called Fast Work and
Girl Shock appeared with more original music -- early, embryonic
versions of tunes which were to become so familiar in the later
Hal Roach films: for example, tunes called "Fliver Flops," "Little
Dancing Girl," "Gangway Charlie," and "If It Were Only True."
These experiments were successful. By trial and error, a new formula
was found for the production of sound films: take a good comedy
film, add a pinch of Shield music, and stir well.
After the summer of 1930, most Roach comedies used original music
(mostly by Shield) with utmost respect to the film scenes.
Shield had gathered a select group of musicians into the studio
in Culver City, and recorded his new compositions with them --
sometime between March and August of 1930, most probably in June.
We don't know who these musicians were, but they were propably
top players in local dance bands, handpicked by Shield for these
freelance recording jobs. We do know that Shield used the same
violinist, the same bassoon player, the same alto sax player,
on different sessions in 1930, 1931, and even much later, in 1936.
He knew exactly what he wanted, and also how to get it.
In September, 1930, in a Hollywood studio, Shield recorded his
one and only commercial record: a song from a then current film,
The Big Trail, called "Song of the Big Trail", coupled with the
popular foxtrot song, "Sing Song Girl" When the record came out, the music reviewer for The New Yorker
magazine immediately selected it among his favorite dance selections
and wrote: "A fox trot and a waltz, exploiting a new outfit which
probably wont stop with one good record."
The outfit was called Roy Shield and the Victor Hollywood Orchestra,
obviously a studio group. Unfortunately, they did stop with one
good record, cutting off any chance of lasting public recognition
for Mr. Shield.