Interesting performance

by Mark Gabrish Conlan

Gershwin's "Singing the Blues" piano roll is an interesting performance that shows him torn between the demands of the roll companies that their players stay within the printed notes as much as possible and his own desire for freedom to vary and improvise. The most interesting part of the performance is about four seconds, starting at 1:09, in which Gershwin sounds oddly "Bixian" even though Bix wouldn't record for another four years: it probably reflects their shared interest in French Impressionist composers like Debussy and Ravel. And the reference to "The Donkey Serenade" shouldn't be surprising, since Rudolf Friml had written "The Donkey Serenade" in 1912 and it had been a huge hit.

Later piano-roll companies figured out a way to create note-perfect renditions of popular songs just by cutting the right notes in a master roll, without the intervention of a human performer at all!

Posted on Aug 31, 2017, 7:50 AM

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