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Now is The Hour – A Bit of Mystery

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  • FredC
    Group, I have run into a bit of a mystery over the tear-jerker tune Now Is The Hour . This tune has always struck me as a classic case of early 20th Century
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 1, 2012
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      Group,

      I have run into a bit of a mystery over the tear-jerker tune "Now Is The Hour". This tune has always struck me as a classic case of early 20th Century "Old Time Piano" music straight out of the Ragtime era. Although unsyncopated, surely Scott Joplin would've heard it and loved it. (Or so I like to imagine. Who knows?)

      When I was younger, I tried to pick the tune up by ear (from memory at that). I added tremolos and it didn't sound too bad.

      Here's another guys rendition that sounds kind of romantic to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvSkqU70vUE

      Not too sure if that guy is actually sight reading that or "faking" and adding some of his own ornamentation. In any rate, I thought it would be nice to get a piece of the original Ragtime era sheet music to learn and arrange on my own. So, I went to the Indiana University Library site to get a copy and imagine my surprise to learn not only was it still under copyright protection but ONLY dates to 1946 – 25 to 30 years after the Ragtime era had drawn to a close!

      Digging a little deeper, I learned from Wikipedia that the song was supposedly composed in 1913 by a Clement Scott under a different name. "Swiss Cradle Song", I thing they said. O.K., well that gets us back into the Ragtime era. But it gets even murkier. Some people claim that the tune actually came from New Zeeland in the 1920's!

      To add to the mystery, an elderly widow claimed in 1948 that her husband, one Albert Saunders, had actually composed the tune under the pseudonym 'Clement Scott". Hmmmn. Can anybody else add any more to this little mystery? Does anybody else on our group actually play this piece?

      Regards,
      Fred M. Cain
    • Bryan Cather
      In a similar vein, I ve had people swear to (or at) me  up down and sideways that The Old Piano Roll Blues was written sometime in the 1920s and that
      Message 2 of 9 , Aug 1, 2012
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        In a similar vein, I've had people swear to (or at) me  up down and sideways that "The Old Piano Roll Blues" was written "sometime in the 1920s" and that "Beer Barrel Polka" predates the First World War.

        Check the dates of both if you're curious.

        BryanC

        --- On Wed, 8/1/12, FredC <fredmcain2003@...> wrote:

        From: FredC <fredmcain2003@...>
        Subject: [EliteSyncopations] Now is The Hour – A Bit of Mystery
        To: EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 12:58 PM

         

        Group,

        I have run into a bit of a mystery over the tear-jerker tune "Now Is The Hour". This tune has always struck me as a classic case of early 20th Century "Old Time Piano" music straight out of the Ragtime era. Although unsyncopated, surely Scott Joplin would've heard it and loved it. (Or so I like to imagine. Who knows?)

        When I was younger, I tried to pick the tune up by ear (from memory at that). I added tremolos and it didn't sound too bad.

        Here's another guys rendition that sounds kind of romantic to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvSkqU70vUE

        Not too sure if that guy is actually sight reading that or "faking" and adding some of his own ornamentation. In any rate, I thought it would be nice to get a piece of the original Ragtime era sheet music to learn and arrange on my own. So, I went to the Indiana University Library site to get a copy and imagine my surprise to learn not only was it still under copyright protection but ONLY dates to 1946 – 25 to 30 years after the Ragtime era had drawn to a close!

        Digging a little deeper, I learned from Wikipedia that the song was supposedly composed in 1913 by a Clement Scott under a different name. "Swiss Cradle Song", I thing they said. O.K., well that gets us back into the Ragtime era. But it gets even murkier. Some people claim that the tune actually came from New Zeeland in the 1920's!

        To add to the mystery, an elderly widow claimed in 1948 that her husband, one Albert Saunders, had actually composed the tune under the pseudonym 'Clement Scott". Hmmmn. Can anybody else add any more to this little mystery? Does anybody else on our group actually play this piece?

        Regards,
        Fred M. Cain

      • FredC
        Bryan, Yeah, and Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose is another one. I always knew that didn t really date to the Ragtime era but I igured it was at
        Message 3 of 9 , Aug 1, 2012
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          Bryan,

          Yeah, and "Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose" is another one. I always knew that didn't really date to the Ragtime era but I igured it was at least the 1950's like the Piano Roll Blues. But in reality it only dates from the early 1970's! No matter. It can still be turned into a great Ragtime piano number. After all, as long as we're around, the Ragtime era never really died!

          However, the case of "ow Is The Hour" is a little bit different since there seems to be different dates out there as to when this tune was actually written or composed. 1913, 1920, 1928 or '46. Take your pick! I hope The Perfessor chimes in on this one!

          Regards,
          Fred M. Cain

          --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, Bryan Cather <catt967@...> wrote:
          >
          > In a similar vein, I've had people swear to (or at) me  up down and sideways that "The Old Piano Roll Blues" was written "sometime in the 1920s" and that "Beer Barrel Polka" predates the First World War.
          >
          > Check the dates of both if you're curious.
          >
          > BryanC
          >
          > --- On Wed, 8/1/12, FredC <fredmcain2003@...> wrote:
          >
          > From: FredC <fredmcain2003@...>
          > Subject: [EliteSyncopations] Now is The Hour â€" A Bit of Mystery
          > To: EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com
          > Date: Wednesday, August 1, 2012, 12:58 PM
          >
          >
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          > Group,
          >
          >
          >
          > I have run into a bit of a mystery over the tear-jerker tune "Now Is The Hour". This tune has always struck me as a classic case of early 20th Century "Old Time Piano" music straight out of the Ragtime era. Although unsyncopated, surely Scott Joplin would've heard it and loved it. (Or so I like to imagine. Who knows?)
          >
          >
          >
          > When I was younger, I tried to pick the tune up by ear (from memory at that). I added tremolos and it didn't sound too bad.
          >
          >
          >
          > Here's another guys rendition that sounds kind of romantic to me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvSkqU70vUE
          >
          >
          >
          > Not too sure if that guy is actually sight reading that or "faking" and adding some of his own ornamentation. In any rate, I thought it would be nice to get a piece of the original Ragtime era sheet music to learn and arrange on my own. So, I went to the Indiana University Library site to get a copy and imagine my surprise to learn not only was it still under copyright protection but ONLY dates to 1946 â€" 25 to 30 years after the Ragtime era had drawn to a close!
          >
          >
          >
          > Digging a little deeper, I learned from Wikipedia that the song was supposedly composed in 1913 by a Clement Scott under a different name. "Swiss Cradle Song", I thing they said. O.K., well that gets us back into the Ragtime era. But it gets even murkier. Some people claim that the tune actually came from New Zeeland in the 1920's!
          >
          >
          >
          > To add to the mystery, an elderly widow claimed in 1948 that her husband, one Albert Saunders, had actually composed the tune under the pseudonym 'Clement Scott". Hmmmn. Can anybody else add any more to this little mystery? Does anybody else on our group actually play this piece?
          >
          >
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          > Fred M. Cain
          >
        • jazzpianist
          Just google copyright office under google books. That easy. Now is the Hour (Maori Farewell Song) shows a copyright renewal in 1949, meaning it existed long
          Message 4 of 9 , Aug 1, 2012
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            Just google copyright office under google books. That easy.

            Now is the Hour (Maori Farewell Song) shows a copyright renewal in 1949, meaning it existed long before. That record shows Maewa Kaihan, Clement Scott and Dorothy Stewart as the contributors. It was, indeed, composed originally at the Swiss Cradle Song in Australia, as can be confirmed by viewing a violin/piano instrumental version of the piece at the National Library of Australia:

            http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-vn690254

            Another version is:

            http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-an6573164

            I can't confirm a 1913 origin, although there are enough stories to suggest it did exist prior to World War I. The copyright in the US and Australia appears to be 1923 fairly consistently, which would explain a 1949 renewal after 26 years. Given the proximity to New Zealand, it was a natural to be picked up there and given native Maori lyrics. Bing Crosby was one of the first to really make a hit of this.

            So, yes and no. Post-ragtime era perhaps, but not American in origin. I found a quote in Time Magazine from a January, 1948 edition that further confirms origin:
            ===============
            Everybody else was singing it before Americans even heard of it. It began 35 years ago as the Swiss Cradle Song, written by an Australian. Then a Maori woman, who liked the tune made up some words to go with it, sang it at a Maori festival. The natives picked it up; so did white New Zealanders who mistakenly thought it an old Maori folksong.

            Then England's Gracie Fields got hold of it. By now it had new lyrics and a new title: `Now Is the Hour'. Her brassy-voiced music-hall record of the catchy, draggy tune has been No. 1 on England's hit parade for 23 weeks. London Records decided that the song was just what they were looking for to crash the rich U.S. record market. Last week 24,000 records (weighing six tons) of Gracie Field's version arrived in Manhattan, the biggest shipment of foreign records ever to hit the U.S. Gracie wouldn't have the place to herself. Bing Crosby, Kate Smith and Eddy Howard all managed to put the song on records before Jimmy Petrillo, by putting a stop to all U.S. recording, got off his own variation on `Now Is the Hour'.

            ================
            Hope that is useful.

            BTW,
            http://ragpiano.com/pbmidi10a.shtml#beerbarrel will take you to the stories on those OTHER two NON-ragtime era songs, plus that THIRD one, Music*3.

            Bill Edwards
          • FredC
            Thanks, Bill. I guess I had some preconceived ideas or notions about this piece not knowing what all the facts were. For some reason the chromaticism in the
            Message 5 of 9 , Aug 1, 2012
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              Thanks, Bill. I guess I had some preconceived ideas or notions about this piece not knowing what all the facts were. For some reason the chromaticism in the tune makes me think of early 1900's America but those kinds of harmonies were probably all over the world.

              Regards,

              Fred M. Cain

              --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "jazzpianist" <perfbill@...> wrote:
              >
              > Just google copyright office under google books. That easy.
              >
              > Now is the Hour (Maori Farewell Song) shows a copyright renewal in 1949, meaning it existed long before. That record shows Maewa Kaihan, Clement Scott and Dorothy Stewart as the contributors. It was, indeed, composed originally at the Swiss Cradle Song in Australia, as can be confirmed by viewing a violin/piano instrumental version of the piece at the National Library of Australia:
              >
              > http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-vn690254
              >
              > Another version is:
              >
              > http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-an6573164
              >
              > I can't confirm a 1913 origin, although there are enough stories to suggest it did exist prior to World War I. The copyright in the US and Australia appears to be 1923 fairly consistently, which would explain a 1949 renewal after 26 years. Given the proximity to New Zealand, it was a natural to be picked up there and given native Maori lyrics. Bing Crosby was one of the first to really make a hit of this.
              >
              > So, yes and no. Post-ragtime era perhaps, but not American in origin. I found a quote in Time Magazine from a January, 1948 edition that further confirms origin:
              > ===============
              > Everybody else was singing it before Americans even heard of it. It began 35 years ago as the Swiss Cradle Song, written by an Australian. Then a Maori woman, who liked the tune made up some words to go with it, sang it at a Maori festival. The natives picked it up; so did white New Zealanders who mistakenly thought it an old Maori folksong.
              >
              > Then England's Gracie Fields got hold of it. By now it had new lyrics and a new title: `Now Is the Hour'. Her brassy-voiced music-hall record of the catchy, draggy tune has been No. 1 on England's hit parade for 23 weeks. London Records decided that the song was just what they were looking for to crash the rich U.S. record market. Last week 24,000 records (weighing six tons) of Gracie Field's version arrived in Manhattan, the biggest shipment of foreign records ever to hit the U.S. Gracie wouldn't have the place to herself. Bing Crosby, Kate Smith and Eddy Howard all managed to put the song on records before Jimmy Petrillo, by putting a stop to all U.S. recording, got off his own variation on `Now Is the Hour'.
              >
              > ================
              > Hope that is useful.
              >
              > BTW,
              > http://ragpiano.com/pbmidi10a.shtml#beerbarrel will take you to the stories on those OTHER two NON-ragtime era songs, plus that THIRD one, Music*3.
              >
              > Bill Edwards
              >
            • reliance_nz
              Hi Fred, The tune is still part of everyday life here in New Zealand, along with another non-native song (that made no impact anywhere else in the world but
              Message 6 of 9 , Aug 1, 2012
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                Hi Fred,

                The tune is still part of everyday life here in New Zealand, along with another non-native song (that made no impact anywhere else in the world but caught on like wildfire here - 'Ten Guitars', an Englebert Humperdinck B-side!)

                It's sung by the crowd and/or guest performers at the conclusion of most big rugby matches involving our world champion team the All Blacks, and just about every New Zealander would know the lyrics.

                I have it on various piano rolls, and will scan them to MIDI for you when I have a free moment.

                There was a very good article about the composer controversy published in one of our national papers a couple of years ago, link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/3154101/Unsung-hero



                --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "FredC" <fredmcain2003@...> wrote:
                >
                > Thanks, Bill. I guess I had some preconceived ideas or notions about this piece not knowing what all the facts were. For some reason the chromaticism in the tune makes me think of early 1900's America but those kinds of harmonies were probably all over the world.
                >
                > Regards,
                >
                > Fred M. Cain
                >
              • FredC
                Great article! By the way, did you find Now is The Hour on a roll yet? Regards, Fred M. Cain
                Message 7 of 9 , Aug 3, 2012
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                  Great article! By the way, did you find "Now is The Hour" on a roll yet?

                  Regards,
                  Fred M. Cain

                  --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "reliance_nz" <reliance_nz@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Hi Fred,
                  >
                  > The tune is still part of everyday life here in New Zealand, along with another non-native song (that made no impact anywhere else in the world but caught on like wildfire here - 'Ten Guitars', an Englebert Humperdinck B-side!)
                  >
                  > It's sung by the crowd and/or guest performers at the conclusion of most big rugby matches involving our world champion team the All Blacks, and just about every New Zealander would know the lyrics.
                  >
                  > I have it on various piano rolls, and will scan them to MIDI for you when I have a free moment.
                  >
                  > There was a very good article about the composer controversy published in one of our national papers a couple of years ago, link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/3154101/Unsung-hero
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  > --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "FredC" <fredmcain2003@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Thanks, Bill. I guess I had some preconceived ideas or notions about this piece not knowing what all the facts were. For some reason the chromaticism in the tune makes me think of early 1900's America but those kinds of harmonies were probably all over the world.
                  > >
                  > > Regards,
                  > >
                  > > Fred M. Cain
                  > >
                  >
                • reliance_nz
                  Hi Fred, I actually found it is already on my website as part of the Gordon Raspin scan collection. To download it, visit the front page (www.pianola.co.nz)
                  Message 8 of 9 , Aug 5, 2012
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                    Hi Fred,

                    I actually found it is already on my website as part of the Gordon Raspin scan collection.

                    To download it, visit the front page (www.pianola.co.nz) and you'll see under "SITE NEWS/ADDITIONS" there's a link to the Raspin collection zip file on 29/9/11.

                    There's two versions of "Now Is The Hour" in there, one titled "The Maoris Farewell", played by Len Luscombe for his own Broadway roll company based in Melbourne, Australia. The other is the first tune in the "Maori Waltz Medley", titled "Haere Ra - Maori Farewell", played by Edith Murn.

                    Both of these rolls date from the mid-40s, when Gracie Fields picked it up, although both Murn and Luscombe were born in the 1890s and had been making rolls since the early '20s. By the way, the Raspin MIDI scans, for some reason, have a MIDI pitch bend command at the start of each file, probably a bug in the custom roll processing software he uses, so what you hear is played by the wrong key - but it doesn't matter much, I suppose!

                    --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "FredC" <fredmcain2003@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Great article! By the way, did you find "Now is The Hour" on a roll yet?
                    >
                    > Regards,
                    > Fred M. Cain
                    >
                    > --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "reliance_nz" <reliance_nz@> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > Hi Fred,
                    > >
                    > > The tune is still part of everyday life here in New Zealand, along with another non-native song (that made no impact anywhere else in the world but caught on like wildfire here - 'Ten Guitars', an Englebert Humperdinck B-side!)
                    > >
                    > > It's sung by the crowd and/or guest performers at the conclusion of most big rugby matches involving our world champion team the All Blacks, and just about every New Zealander would know the lyrics.
                    > >
                    > > I have it on various piano rolls, and will scan them to MIDI for you when I have a free moment.
                    > >
                    > > There was a very good article about the composer controversy published in one of our national papers a couple of years ago, link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/3154101/Unsung-hero
                    > >
                  • FredC
                    Robert, Thanks for this. I not only enjoyed Now Is The hour but there are a lot of other good tunes on there as well. Listening to those is a good way for
                    Message 9 of 9 , Aug 6, 2012
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                      Robert,

                      Thanks for this. I not only enjoyed "Now Is The hour" but there are a lot of other good tunes on there as well. Listening to those is a good way for amateur piano players like me to get ideas.

                      Regards,
                      Fred M. Cain



                      --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "reliance_nz" <reliance_nz@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > Hi Fred,
                      >
                      > I actually found it is already on my website as part of the Gordon Raspin scan collection.
                      >
                      > To download it, visit the front page (www.pianola.co.nz) and you'll see under "SITE NEWS/ADDITIONS" there's a link to the Raspin collection zip file on 29/9/11.
                      >
                      > There's two versions of "Now Is The Hour" in there, one titled "The Maoris Farewell", played by Len Luscombe for his own Broadway roll company based in Melbourne, Australia. The other is the first tune in the "Maori Waltz Medley", titled "Haere Ra - Maori Farewell", played by Edith Murn.
                      >
                      > Both of these rolls date from the mid-40s, when Gracie Fields picked it up, although both Murn and Luscombe were born in the 1890s and had been making rolls since the early '20s. By the way, the Raspin MIDI scans, for some reason, have a MIDI pitch bend command at the start of each file, probably a bug in the custom roll processing software he uses, so what you hear is played by the wrong key - but it doesn't matter much, I suppose!
                      >
                      > --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "FredC" <fredmcain2003@> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > Great article! By the way, did you find "Now is The Hour" on a roll yet?
                      > >
                      > > Regards,
                      > > Fred M. Cain
                      > >
                      > > --- In EliteSyncopations@yahoogroups.com, "reliance_nz" <reliance_nz@> wrote:
                      > > >
                      > > > Hi Fred,
                      > > >
                      > > > The tune is still part of everyday life here in New Zealand, along with another non-native song (that made no impact anywhere else in the world but caught on like wildfire here - 'Ten Guitars', an Englebert Humperdinck B-side!)
                      > > >
                      > > > It's sung by the crowd and/or guest performers at the conclusion of most big rugby matches involving our world champion team the All Blacks, and just about every New Zealander would know the lyrics.
                      > > >
                      > > > I have it on various piano rolls, and will scan them to MIDI for you when I have a free moment.
                      > > >
                      > > > There was a very good article about the composer controversy published in one of our national papers a couple of years ago, link here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/3154101/Unsung-hero
                      > > >
                      >
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