Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Jingle Begins

Not Jingle Bells but The Product Jingle. The product Jingle predates radio by a bit. We are lucky that we can clearly credit one man for this. And before you go out to deface his headstone Let me tell you what you would have have guessed. Nicolas Slonimsky was the sort of warped genius that art students produce docmentaries about. He was a Russian born, naturalized American musicologist. Amazing Bio here:

What puzzles his critics and fans is that he seemed to be two men. Both of them somewhat mad.
On one had he was the bona-fide musical genius. He edited the monumental Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. (still in print)He compiled an exhaustive compilation of literally thousands of different scales and permutations called the Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns. This epic work is described as an inventory of all conceivable and inconceivable tonal combinations. This text culminates in the mind-boggling "Grandmother Chord" containing twelve different tones and 11 different intervals
On the other hand, he also He put together the Lexicon of Musical Invective, a random collection of bad reviews of recognized classics. The text is so anally thorough that it concludes with an an index of the weapon-like words used to attack composers we now consider great, with multiple entries for phrases like "tonal Antichrist," "perverse," "barking" and "sea-sickness." He wrote the comic/critical essay Sex and the Music Librarian. He once performed the right hand part of Chopins' black-key etude by rolling an orange over the keyboard single handed! This man taught his own daughter latin by speaking only Latin in the home until she reached the age of 5!

So, While I concede that it was he who wrote the very earliest singing commercials. (These were comissioned by The Saturday Evening Post in 1925 for Pepsodent and Castoria.) However it is my opinion that he meant it as a joke. He of course took the joke too far and occassionally performed the jingles as a lark. Click Play to hear him reinturpret his now infamous Castoria jingle.

I do not know what radio station ran these, but the actual scripts for them are archived by the Library of Congress. If anyone wants to be the hero, be my Guest.