Monday, 3 March 2014

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS: "CHANGE MY CLOTHES"

L.J. SPENCE'S STARTING POINTS

20. "CHANGE MY CLOTHES"

03/03/2014


OK, this will hopefully be a link that will work for a long time to come:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaX_qOMvQ9o

(This might be a "copy and paste job", unless anyone knows how to embed a YouTube video in Blogger's iPad app!)

This is, I believe, a very important piece of music. "Change My Clothes" was a piece of incidental music used in many Laurel & Hardy short films, and served as the theme for both "Way Out West" (1938), and the 1937 reissue of "Blotto" (1929). It is written by LeRoy Shield, a composer that wrote semi-classical pieces and led radio orchestras, in addition to writing film music, but is often misattributed to Marvin Hatley, the resident composer at the Hal Roach Studios, who wrote "The Cuckoo Waltz," the enduring L&H theme tune that juxtaposes the lumbering bass line of Hardy with the out-of-tune dissonance of Laurel.

But why pick this piece of music? I first looked for it on a whim, a dim memory from watching Laurel & Hardy as a child, which became a warm, happy memory on hearing it now. Listening to it objectively, however, I realised this may be one of the first cases of "incidental music" in a film, coming from the advent of the "talkies" from the start of the 1930s. Used as a background to bits of business, life carrying on as normal, and with a mundane title like "Change of Clothes," it wears its intended use on its sleeve. It is delightful in its mundane nature, and an interesting early example on how to write a piece of music that depicts life just, well, carrying on as normal. It's hard to do well, but it worked on me.

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