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Record of the Week

from The National Jukebox

Each week our panel of experts picks a different National Jukebox selection to highlight.

This week’s selection:

"The Gridiron March" performed by the Metropolitan Orchestra, recorded March 2, 1901.

In the early days of recorded sound it was considered quite a technical achievement to effectively record dance music. A proper dance orchestra of the day used one or more violins to render the lead melody. Prior to the advent of the Stroh violin, a violin finger board incorporating a vibrating diaphragm and amplifying horn, a clarinet was substituted for the violin as it would register more effectively.

Here is a typical-sounding early dance orchestra recording. Notice that it is of rather small instrumentation with cornet, clarinet, trombone, piccolo, and piano all playing distinct but occasionally overlapping parts, kind of like the small orchestras in New Orleans that slowly evolved into the first jazz bands.

In this 1901 recording we hear the enthusiastic Metropolitan Orchestra plow through “Gridiron March,” composed by Arthur Pryor, in their flatfooted, but charming manner. 

For information on the Stroh violin, please see http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/features/stroh-violin.

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  April 29, 2015
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