saljarena
2021-04-14T15:43:52Z
Greetings All,

I am a new registrant and was thrilled to find this website!!!

I am reaching out for assistance in identifying a piece of 'stock' music that has been frustratingly locked in my memory for many years. I have vivid memories as a child in the early 1960’s watching ‘Farmer Alfalfa’ cartoons, which immediately followed the daily TV ‘Please Stand By’ test pattern screen, our National Anthem, the Morning Prayer and The Modern Farmer line-up beginning at about 6am each morning. As you all know, they were a selection of silent cartoons crafted by Paul Terry in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s starring old Farmer Alfalfa (AKA: Farmer Gray) along with a variety of supporting animal characters (lots of cats and mice). Very entertaining for a child back in the day. Evidently, the local New York station who ran the cartoons (either WPIX 11 or WNEW 5) compiled pieces of 'stock' music to accompany these precious animations.

Having an ear for music as far back as I can remember, I retained portions of the background melodies and for years have been trying to identify them, so I can relive those wonderful times. Several years ago, I even reached out to the local TV stations, WPIX and WNEW to see if they had any record of the playlists for the cartoons but unfortunately, they did not and they told me they likely just pieced together 'stock' musical segments at the time to run with the cartoon. I was so very disappointed.

Just recently I did completed some research and fortunately discovered the composer, Roger Roger. To my absolute delight, I was able to find and listen to several of those great tunes on YouTube. One of my fondest and most complete memories was the tune: 'Whimsical Tale'. I almost broke down and cried when I heard it after all these years... just as I had remembered it!

I am a self-taught, amateur musician who enjoys playing the piano by ear and fortunately as a result, I can play portions of the music as best as I can remember them, but I would absolutely love to capture the original and complete orchestral rendition of them to hear them again, if at all possible. I’ve also tried to run my recorded snippets through music recognition apps such as Shazam, SoundHound and Musixmatch, but without much success, except for a piece that was identified as ‘Sellenger’s Round’ which I remember as a background on some silent cartoon segments however I am still searching for the orchestral version of that tune as I had remembered it. It must be somewhere out there though, because I have it burned in my memory.

I realize that this is a long shot but there is one particular tune that I have recorded as an .avi file and would absolutely love it if I could send it to someone and they can identify it. I would be so grateful if someone could even just point me towards a limited path of composer or composition possibilities to research. Please let me know how I can attach a file and send it along to someone for identification. Thank you so very much for any help you can provide in this crazy personal endeavour... before I leave this earth!

Sincerely, Sal
OutOfOdor
2021-04-17T18:27:08Z
Hey, I'd love to be able to hear whatever track you're wondering about. I'm sure if you just upload it to a storage service like Google Drive, you shouldn't have any problems sharing it.
"With all respect to the great mousetrap."- Popeye, "The Spinach Overture" (1935)
RichieD
2022-05-01T22:11:57Z
Hello! I came across your post quite by accident while trying to research online one of the tunes I first heard as background music to a number of silent Farmer Alfalfa a/k/a Farmer Gray cartoons shown on TV in New York City when I was a kid almost 70 years ago, so I just signed up on this website so I could post a reply. I recorded this tune and a number of other tunes like them from the TV at the time using a big Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder and still have my recordings (now on cassette) and still love the tunes. With a few minor variations, I could have written your post, and it reflects my own attitudes about the great background music used at that time for what were originally silent cartoons. The fact that you mention "Sellenger's Round" as the title for one of the pieces indicates to me that we are talking about the same kind of music. I first found out what the title of that piece was when I was in college and heard someone playing it on the piano in the lounge outside a student dining hall, but like you I have never found the full, beautiful orchestral version that was used for the cartoon. I likewise can remember other points in my life when I first found out the titles of other, similar pieces: one of them, for example, from Georges Bizet's "Jeux d'Enfants", I heard on a classical radio station when I was in my teens (after also hearing it every year in the 1938 version of "A Christmas Carol" with Reginald Owen after Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning, throws open the windows and calls down to a boy in the street) and another, "The Dance of the Clowns", from Felix Mendelssohn's incidental music to Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream", I first heard identified while listening to an airline's classical music selections on headphones while on a cross-country flight. My favorite tune, however, along with "Sellenger's Round", is one I just identified this week. It appears in two of the Farmer Gray cartoons currently posted on YouTube, one with no title that is indexed merely under "1920s fable cartoon" and begins with a cat fishing: the first tune in the cartoon is a medley of two traditional British/Irish hornpipes, "Sailor's Hornpipe" and "Fisher's Hornpipe" played on what sounds like a barrel piano, the second tune is an old Irish sentimental song in waltz time, "The Old Rustic Bridge by the Mill", played probably on the same instrument, and the third is the tune I have been wanting to identify for so long. It plays through almost completely during the rest of the cartoon but unfortunately is cut off in the last few seconds at the end (The tune also appears at the very beginning of another cartoon on YouTube titled "Wonders of the Deep"). I recognized years ago that the tune is a medley that incorporates portions of traditional English Morris dance tunes, but I never knew what the main theme was, that appears at the very beginning following what sounds like the beating of drums. I confirmed during the past few days that it is another traditional English dance tune (like "Sellenger's Round") with the title "The Boyne Water". I have been interested for many years in traditional Irish music and for a long time knew that there was a folk song about the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 with this title, but I never knew that there was also a dance tune, perhaps based on it but very different from it, with the same title. The piece was collected by the English folk music expert Cecil Sharp in 1909 from a gypsy fiddler and transcribed by him and even recorded by him on a wax cylinder, and you can find a copy of the sheet music for the piece reflecting his transcription online if you google "Boyne Water" and "Cecil Sharp" and/or "Locke" (the name of the gypsy fiddler). A recording of the piece for dancing, by a group called "The Shropshire Heroes", complete with the kind of calling that is done for square dancing in the background, can be found online that confirms that it is the same piece, but as with "Sellenger's Round" the full, orchestral version used in the cartoon is so much nicer and I regret that after all these years I have never located the complete recording of it. I do find it interesting that both tunes are from the English folk tradition and that makes me wonder whether the body of background music that included it was from an English source. If you can somehow get your .avi file to me or post it on this website, I would love to hear it and try to identify the tune on it. Best regards, Richie D
RichieD
2022-05-03T02:07:59Z
To follow up on my post yesterday, I never heard of the composer Roger Roger before reading SalJArena's post, but I have now done a little online research and listened to recordings of music by Roger on YouTube and elsewhere and I was amazed to find almost immediately recordings of eight pieces that I remember very distinctly as having heard as background music for Farmer Alfalfa/Farmer Gray silent cartoons over 60 years ago: "Aggression", "Dance of the Elfins", "Komic Kapers", "Love's Caprice", "Mayfair Walk", "Thoroughfare", "Tipsy Mocking Bird" and "Whimsical Tale". The fact that Roger composed so many of the pieces used with the cartoons is very interesting to me because the pieces I discussed in my post yesterday that I remembered and especially liked are of a very different type: lively "action" tunes from the classical music world (I mentioned the movement from Bizet's "Jeux d'Enfants" and the "Dance of the Clowns" from Mendelssohn's incidental music to "A Midsummer Night's Dream", and another is Johann Strauss' "Tritsch Tratsch Polka") and orchestral arrangements of very old traditional dance tunes from the British isles ("Sellenger's Round" and "The Boyne Water"). So, the tunes used when these cartoons were shown on TV in the late 1950s were definitely from several very different sources. Richie D
saljarena
2022-05-09T15:46:32Z
Hi RichieD -- I was so excited to view your response and the additional information that you had provided! When I discover 'Whimsical Tale' I almost had tears. A very memorable (and unusual) melody. Never thought that I would hear it again. I am still searching for one more tune that I can't identify. I recorded an .avi file on my keyboard but I don't know how to share it with anyone (so please send me instructions, per the person who commented re: Google Drive. This particular melody played in the same sequence cartoon as I recall. Would truly love to identify it. I'M ON A MISSION! BTW, I've also identified an orchestral version of 'Sellinger's Round' as I remembered it being played. It is a 1930's version of the tune and you can find it on Youtube. I can send the link if you have trouble finding it. I'm also open to sending you my .avi file directly if you are open to sharing your email address. -- Kind regards, Sal
saljarena
2022-05-09T15:53:05Z
Hello OutOfOdor -- So sorry that I missed your reply (almost a year ago!!!). Can you please send me instructions on how I can share my .avi file with you? I'm not very technology savvy and not familiar with using Google Drive. I'm also open to sending you my .avi file directly if you are open to sharing your email address. WOULD REALLY LIKE TO IDENTIFY THIS MELODY. Thank you!-- Kind regards, Sal
saljarena
2022-05-10T00:51:22Z
Here is a link on YouTube to a 1938 orchestral version of 'Sellinger's Round', a version I believe that was used as background for the Farmer Gray cartoons in conjunction with Roger Roger's 'Whimsical Tale'.

Also, this Roger Roger tune 'The Toy Shop Window' was the opening theme of the 'Spunky and Tadpole' cartoon series. Another golden nugget from the past.

Enjoy!
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