|(Composer - Leroy Shield cont.)
Sixty years on, radio programs are even harder to find and to listen to than film scores. I have only heard a few. Even so, I was excited to discover that Shield re cycled many of his Hal Roach film themes for use in radio. "Prelude" became the leader music for a musical talent show; Our Gang's signature tune "Good Old Days" was used for a children's program, Kaltenmeyer's Kindergarten; the tune "Wishing" was used as theme for a daily soap opera; a goof effect called "Miser" be came one of Shield's Musical Transitions for Radio, and the lovely slow waltz "You Are the One I Love" became the theme song for his musical variety programs, Roy Shield Revue and Roy Shield and Company, which ran from the late '30s until 1952. From film background music, Roy Shield made a smooth transition to popular and easy listening music.
It is commonly believed that the term "easy listening" was first used in the late '40s by Paul Weston for his Capitol album, Music for Easy Listening. However, as early as 1943 Shield used the term in radio for his long running series Design for Listening: subtitled, "Easy Listening featuring Ray Shield and the Singing Strings."
Again, he was one of the pioneers of the genre. Again, he could easily have been a household name, a popular orchestra leader like Leroy Anderson, Lawrence Welk, or even Jackie Gleason. But that clearly wasn't his style. His role was literally in the back ground, producing modest, in obtrusive "music to feel good by."
|inspire workers to higher endeavors; up lifting music with titles
such as "Workaday World" and "Calling All Workers." In the '50s
and '60s, such instrumental back ground music was used in TV sitcoms,
cartoon series, and even the BBC test pattern. Like Leroy Shield's,
their names are mostly unfamiliar, but you can probably whistle
some of their tunes.
A newspaper report from February 1936 mentions that Roy Shield was so much in demand as musical director for radio that his last "vacation" was spent in Hollywood, where he composed more than twenty tunes for use in motion pictures. This vacation must have taken place in July 1935 at the Roach Studios, because the first results appeared on film by August: in Irvin Cobb's The Infernal Triangle, Laurel & Hardy's Bonnie Scotland, Charley Chase's Manhattan Monkey Business, and Our Gang's Divot Diggers. In the world of Laurel & Hardy, these tunes became quite well known because of an action undertaken two years later to "upgrade" four early talkies: Brats, Blotto, Perfect Day, and County Hospital. Sound editor Elmer Raguse used Shield's stock music from 1935 plus some material from Our Relations to assemble new music scores. For some reason, this music was mixed quite loudly into the soundtrack. Consequently, we really have Elmer Raguse to thank for the survival at least on film of most of Shield's later compositions: "Just a Melody Sweet," "Steppin A long With a Song," "Standin' on the Corner" and "Up In Room 14" from Brats, "Crow-hop" and "Stream line Susie" from the nightclub scene in Blotto.
|treasured, like you could go out and buy Sinatra records.
His music survived in mutilated form, as bits and pieces of back ground music. These have become the primary source no, really the only source for us today. It requires some imagination to see or hear it in its original context.
Putting together these fragments, searching for more and more pieces of the puzzle in films which are now "hard to find," has been a project in itself, some thing the Dutch group The Beau Hunks (led by Gert-Jan Blom) and I have occupied our selves with for most of the '90s. It may require typical Dutch stubbornness, a finger-in-the-dyke mentality, to pull this off. It has certainly required a sense of mission, the feeling that it's worthwhile preserving this music for the sake of the music, and much more than just a hobby, just collecting for the fun of it or for curiosity's sake.
Roy Shield was one of the major composers of our century. I find this quite obvious, and it was acknowledged by his contemporaries, but today it is a truth remaining to be rediscovered.
In order for something to be rediscovered, it has to be forgotten first. When Leroy Shield died in 1962, his obituary in Variety failed to mention his most important work the music recorded for Hal Roach Studios.
Roy Shield and Hal Roach, each for their own reasons, appear to
have conspired to cover Shield's tracks most effectively. The
only times his name appeared on a film title was when he directed
the music for two feature films, Fra Diavolo and Our Relations; but his major contribution, the music of the two-reelers, came
and went without a single on-screen credit.