Mars, they're making eyes at you
Kenny Graham bio
Hi there, pop fans!
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Brain Drain
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The Devil looks after
Hymn Number Dinky Do
The Expert
Post mortem
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Fame and fortune
Mars, they're making eyes

A TV advert. uses for its musical background a great chunk of something resembling the Mars movement of the Holst “Planets Suite.” The composition differs, but the style of orchestration has been retained.

It is felt necessary to protect a composer’s melodies or themes, but not his orchestral devices and arranging technique. But most composers are just as easily identified by the sound they get out of an orchestra as they are by the tunes they use. The times clever arrangers have scored a simple nursery tune in the style of various composers are numberless. Also it must be remembered that quite a lot of composers use folk tunes as their thematic material and the manner in which they score these tunes allows the listener to recognise the composer. So it would appear that maybe it is scoring technique that needs protection.

But I must not be a drag and spoil a good thing—so let’s all join in. After all, it don’t ‘arf save a lot of ‘ard graft. For my part I am about to hawk the following bastardised versions of famous works to advertising houses.

How about the opening bars of Beethoven’s 5th as the background for an advert explaining the durability of Super Poly Paint? “Sleeping Beauty” Or Tchaikovsky’s to advertise Borlix Night–cap? Or the Midnight section of Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” to advertise Tickex Watches? Or Ellington’s “Black, Brown And Beige” to advertise boot polish? Imitation is the most lucrative form of flattery.

Vive le difference!
I am utterly fed up with pigeon–holes the type that people get put into. All men are born free, or so we are told, but from kindergarten onwards we are apt to find ourselves in some kind of uniform, be it the blazer, battledress, bowler, badge, beads or the final box.

You see them all over the place every day of your life. What is surprising is that most of them are worn so proudly. The wearers arrogantly announce to the world that they belong in such–and–such a pigeonhole.

I have heard it suggested that most people find some sort of security from the fact that in uniform they can blend with their fellow–wearers and so escape the risk of standing out like a sore thumb. If this is the case, I can’t understand why they do their utmost to betray their individuality  by some minute alteration in the manner in which the uniform is worn.

Musicians are usually notorious for spurning uniformity—as the yellow socks and brown suede shoes worn with dinner suits during the big–band era, or the Jacob’s coat of many colours and metallic dingle–dangles of the present scene attest. Yes, a musician has a mind of his own.

Or has he? During the reign of the King of Swing a variety of musicians went crazy buying spectacles–some with plain glass lenses in them! Bebop sent others in a frantic search for berets, dark shades and goatee beards. Since then, the game has been to give the appearance of a Mexican taxi–driver, or to go the whole hog and walk about looking like a Guru gone gaga! The latter are the saddest. They are so intent on not conforming that the long hair and bastardised Eastern garb have become common and their particular pigeonhole is bursting at the seams.

I know exactly how easy it is. I remember scouring all the jewellers’ shops in London until I bought an oblong–shaped ring as worn by Lester Young. And I looked a wow in my two and three–quarter inch brimmed Stetson and zoot suit. It was terribly important to let folk know that I was no icky square.

Then I got my call–up papers.

I soon discovered why they called that khaki sack–cloth monstrosity the Queen’s Uniform : it certainly wasn’t made for me! The experience turned me off uniforms for ever. Now I am quite happy with two—my drinking set and my going–to–appointments set. My beard? Well, I grew that as camouflage. Jazz musicians had given themselves such a bad name that I decided to confuse the issue by posing as a de–frocked sea–captain or an out–of–work artist.

Now I am going to do something positive. I’m forming the League Of Individualists. Those interested in proclaiming their abhorrence of uniformity will be issued with a green polo–necked shirt and a badge.


 Copyright © 1969, Kenny Graham. All Rights Reserved