Sunday, March 21, 2010

Carl Fischer's Motion Picture Music Guide

The large music publishing firms recognized the value of selling music to the picture theaters fairly early on, and they quickly developed music specially suited to playing the pictures. Publishers also recognized that cinemas were ideal places to monetize their back catalogues. It was toward this end that Carl Fischer "published for the convenience of the profession" its Motion Picture Music Guide, which was essentially the Fischer orchestra catalogue organized according to the needs of a cinema orchestra. Compiled by Julius S. Seredy, Charles J. Roberts and M. Lester Lake, 1922 version ran about 30 pages of double-columned entries. Here is the opening of the collection:

You can see that each entry carries a classification, title, composer, catalogue number and price category.

The later better known 1929 version is far more extensive, running 244 pages albeit with a single column:

The new arrangement adds key, meter, tempo and duration to each line and this has clearly been laid out as much to be useful as to sell music.

Besides the entries, the 1922 version had also sprinkled a fair amount of advise throughout the catalogue. (The 1929 version, by contrast, has little text other than the preface.) Here is the text that introduces the 1922 version:
Is Indispensable

* * *
It shows how many different themes each number contains.

* * *
It classifies each theme, according to the mood it portrays.

* * *
It lists themes which can be used to express different moods, in their proper classification.
* * *
It helps you to derive the utmost value from your library, by showing you all the material in each number suitable for motion picture use.

* * *
It points out—on the piano part—the pages and measures, where each theme starts and ends.

* * *
It places at your disposal the largest collection of modern, classical, standard and popular orchestra music in the world.

* * *
Note: Piano parts of all numbers listed here are fully cued and may be used for piano solo or organ.

The following plug for Fischer-sponsored publications preceded the catalogue itself:

Why Every Motian Picture Leader
Musician Should Read the Musical Magazines.

Nearly every professional man of any prominence subscribes for and reads a few good magazines devoted to his profession. Where would the doctor be without his medical journals or the lawyer without his law papers. The journals are the professional man's stock in trade and are equally important to the musician in the motion picture theatre. They help him keep in touch with the latest developments, to get new ideas, and to broaden his outlook.

There are three magazines which will prove of most help and interest to the musician playing for the films. They are “The Metronome” and “The Dominant,” both band and orchestra monthlies; and “The Musical Observer,” devoted to the interests of all music-lovers. Everyone who plays a band, orchestral or other instrument in a picture theatre, should read one or both of the first two magazines. They are the tools of the trade. Not only do they keep you informed on all the latest popular and standard successes but they bring you in touch with the important musical events in the movie field—events which are making history and which you should not miss if you would keep up-to-date. Music in the movies and for the movies is a leading topic in these journals. Each issue contains interesting articles written by expert writers upon music as the foremost and indispensable accessory to film presentation and the progress of music in this field. Many news items inform you of the music offered in all the leading picture theatres. There are personal notes about the musical directors and their orchestras. In addition, both magazines contain two complete orchestra or band selections in every issue.

"The Musical Observer" covers the entire musical field and is of value and interest to anyone identified with music. It will help you to keep out of a rut and will prove an inspiration and an ambition builder by bringing you in contact with prominent musical people and musical activities the world over.

If you are looking ahead, it will pay you to get acquainted with these magazines. If you can read and think for yourself you will profit by subscribing for those that meet your needs best. You could make no mistake in taking all of them. But you owe it to yourself to read one of them, at least. (p. 6)