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The Choral Groups

April 2018

Recording Artists: The Choral Groups They did not have the swing or the swivel or the hair-sprayed sass of Girl Groups, but the choral groups of the 1960s in America created an artistry all their own. The albums covers in and of themselves were definite delightful works of art! The conductor of each choral group (and its orchestra) magnificently merged, or blended, many voices into one voice, one sound that defined that Group.

There were, for instance, the Ray Coniff Singers; the Ray Charles Singers (whom I once thought belonged to Ray, the Ray Charles of soul, among other genres); the Robert Shaw Chorale; and the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Henry Mancini, composer, conductor, and arranger; and Percy Faith, bandleader, orchestrator, composer, conductor and arranger — each musician had his own group of S-A-T-B, soprano, alto, tenor, bass singers to accompany his orchestra, and thereby produce a unified sound of harmony and beauty. In Paris, Ray Swingle formed, with former background singers, The Swingle Singers, who focused on syllabizing Bach a cappella. Those professional choral groups, along with their orchestras, really got going with some inspiration and marketing success from Mitch Miller. “Sing Along with Mitch" — and his bouncing ball hopping over the lyrics on the screen — was a wildly popular television variety show on NBC from 1961-1964.

Mitch was no slouch. He was a graduate of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, and an accomplished musician (oboe, English horn), as well as a top-notch, top-selling recording artist. By the time that Mr. Miller made it to the telly, he’d already become an integral part of the recording industry, heading A&R, Artists and Repertoire, at Columbia Records. Artists and Repertoire, at a record company — what a quaint concept! Mitch forged a dynamic form of popular music with his “Sing Along With Mitch” on NBC-TV. As a choral conductor, he influenced American popular music in ways that presently go un-influenced and unfilled. It’s a terrible void that seeks resolution, and not just the musical variety.

From the televised and recorded Sing-Alongs of the 1950s and the early 1960s emerged the professional Choral Groups of the 1960s. The choral group recordings were an outgrowth of the Big Band era: So many of those bandleaders and arrangers and conductors and musicians had to find jobs in a post-World War II recording industry that was searching for directions and looking for markets to broadcast, as opposed to today’s narrowcast via MP3s. These groups created what was called Easy Listening. Yes, they were easy to listen to! So easy that I find it hard to believe their concept is no longer around. Of course, the recording company, such as it now exists, would have to employ musicians, trained vocalists, arrangers, conductors, and sound technicians, even entire orchestras. Auto-Tune would be out of business.

The musical cousins of the Choral Groups of the 1960s were the Instrumental Groups, which were almost too many to name. There was, in fact, some form of kissing that went on between these cousins, the Chorals and the Instrumentals, as they played off of the same songs and similar arrangements of movie theme songs and tv theme songs.

The Chorals typically performed musical compositions from films. The Instrumentals favored the television tunes. Perhaps the collapse of the tv-and-film industries is inherently the reason for the demise of what was once fantastic music. That music was composed of the songs that you listened to while driving, without feeling ennui, road rage or the sudden need for a pitstop for any of several pressing concerns, such as one that I experienced while being pulled over by the County Sheriff who profiled me as the blonde girlfriend-accomplice of a Russian mobster-murderer in a near-by town.

The Sirius XM dog is really cleaning up on this one. Talk about Narrow-Cast! The Master’s Voice has changed quite a bit since the RCA Victor Dog, Nipper, that cute little Jack Russell terrier mutt from Bristol, England, first looked into the gramophone. I personally program the 40s, the 50s, the 60s, Soul Town, Symphony Hall, and Broadway. I used to have Willie’s Roadhouse among the button-rotation but Willie ain’t what he used to be! I also used to listen to The Sinatra Station zealously during the writing of THE DAWN, purely for research purposes. As a Dean Martin fan, I can say that Frank is not at the top of my playlist. Although when daughter Nancy helps out, I joyfully sing along to Something Stupid!

Dear Husband programs the 60s and the 80s. We both jump over the 70s, having had to survive them, at least musically, along with the Misery Index. He also visits the Coffee House, unwinds with Classic Rewind, and then heads for the Bridge — where it goes, I do not know, because I do not go there. These channels are, in fact, all programmed on the same car radio. Getting into the shared vehicle, without pressing the remote door opener, and thereby re-setting the preferences of this Spousal Unit, can prompt a small temper tantrum from me. Good marriages are made of things such as deference, and bowing to the questionable musical taste of your Beloved.

You might perchance long to take a musical stroll, or drive, down memory lane, when music was based on pure talents, who remained true to pure sound — the High Fidelity that has been cheated on, to the point where there is an alarming rate of infidelity among the poseurs who mimic the Recording Artists of the Past. If so, I heartily recommend buying a CD of any of those choral groups, each of which, in its own inimitable way, was — Not a one-hit-wonder, but a wonderful one-of-a-kind.

Sat-Radio Update Saturday 8 Oct 2022 It’s somewhat amazing to me how this paragraph from this essay of four years ago is very dated in one sense, but in another sound-sense, it remains very much the same. These channels are, in fact, all programmed on the same car radio. Getting into the shared vehicle, without pressing the remote door opener, and thereby re-setting the preferences of this Spousal Unit, can prompt a small temper tantrum from me. Good marriages are made of things such as deference, and bowing to the questionable musical taste of your Beloved. My Beloved still engages in questionable musical taste, but I am completely without a playlist, now that we no longer subscribe to a Satellite Radio in our brand-new Bronco (which we share). Dear Husband, however, has compiled play-lists galore, with and without, music of questionable taste.

He’s had to go the road of packaging his own playlists from our personal and private harmonic collections. That DJ-compilation work is, I guess, SOP for most people who utilize a Streaming Service for audio. The Milligans go with their own musical choices. I know what I want to hear, and when I want to hear it; just as I know what I want to say, and when (and where) I want to say it! Corporate Satellite is dying because it is not interactive, and its sound quality is abysmal. This severe business decline has occured within the space of four years. In my opinion, four years is an incredibly short duration of time for the economic demise of any long-term, well-established and popular business to overtly go plunk. (I am withholding judgement on the U.S. of A.) However (and I know that starting a sentence with “however” does not constitute good grammar, but let’s say we’re speaking here, not writing!!) —

Whenever a new technology is fantastically ingenious and fun and it spearheads the genesis and invention of supplemental technologies; whenever that technology builds a firm profitable foundation for the future, that whiz-bang industry whizzes past the Dominant Extant Corporation, and leaves it in the rear view mirror. A once-popular product swiftly becomes outmoded. Think of catalog versus online shopping; the Silent Movie and the Talkie; the horse-and-buggy and the automobile with the internal combustion engine. Speaking of Henry Ford’s revolutionary concept of “interchangeable parts”, that term has, during the past few decades, been given a totally different meaning in the America of out-sourced manufacturing. These modern interchangeable parts are the interchangeable idiots known as US politicians of the globalist stripe. The taxpayer-paid guvmint-assembly line snafus and foul-ups are non-stop. Let 'er Roll!

With the emergence of any mechanism that fills an unmet need, the free market breathes, well, freely, or, at least it tries to. The fixed (and sometimes the fix is definitely in), status-quo private enterprise is oftentimes granted protection from rivals and competition by the lobbying-racket. That corporate dinosaur then sucks all of the oxygen out of the investor-room, but, alas! The dinosaur still sinks in his own muck and mire and mud, focusing upon survival by cancelling, and bad-mouthing, the competition, instead of creating pathways to a more economically fruitful future. The brontosaurus-business on the commerce-block soon becomes a thing of the archaic past, overwhelmed, outmoded, and surpassed by that inevitable thing called Innovation. NASDAQ got overstocked with brontosaurus stocks!

Add the unstoppable energy of free market forces to that unstoppable energy of umpteen customers, demanding that high-quality commodity or service, and you’ve got a new success story on the entrepreneurial scene. The capabilities of cellular-network broadcasting have outpaced, like a rocket going off, what had once been cutting-edge satellite transmission. In this instance, cellular data swamped satellite radio so fast, that a 20th-century capitalist phenomenon is biting the dust. So there you go, or there They — Sirius XM — went. The subscription numbers crashed because of the lack of interactive digital communication. The audio quality of the music rapidly, and predictably, deteriorated as Sirius seriously crammed more channels into a bandwidth that was finite from the start. The satellite could only handle a certain density of data (known in the Olden Days as the baud rate). The programming of the product — songs — became amateurish and awful to listen to, cheaply concocted, repetitive, and monotonously patterned, perhaps due to the company’s skimping on the payment of royalties to the musical “artists”.

The lag time in sending and receiving signals via satellites caught up with Sirius-XM, and now it’s a joke. A sad joke.

Occasionally, I buy the hard-copy of a Recommended Song, as suggested by the streaming snoops of those secret algorithms on the Bronco cellular sound system. This past summer, I heard a composition by someone whose name I’d never heard. The title of the selection was displayed on the Bronco radio screen in Japanese, a language that I do not speak, or read. I researched this creative artist online. He was born in 1944 of an Italian father and a Romanian mother in Nice, France. He later became a Japanese citizen, and ran for public office in the Japanese National Diet (which is not a federally mandated meal plan with sushi).

He’s MULTI-CULTI at its best! His name is Claude Ciari. I attempted to purchase a CD of his online, and actually made a transaction from the Third-Party Seller. The order was placed on 17 June 2022 for $34.37. Yes, when I really want a piece of music, I am willing to pay top-gouge dollar for it! The delivery was expected by 2 August 2022. I am still waiting for it, but the window-opportunity of refund has most hideously closed on this order. This purchase was definitely not Prime.

My intention was for Dear Husband to upload tracks of this album to His Digital Library. My cell-phone gets used primarily for timing my morning cup of tea, and for its Hot-Spot function to provide me with an online presence that’s not behind my Cloaking Device. This can of worms get more wormy (and the worm is categorized as an animal) when one contemplates the dire necessity to buy melodic strains from Apple Music. I suspect there’s a worm, or many, in that apple. I’ll have to pursue the surf music of Mr. Ciari next summer. I’ve since moved on to Spanish guitar, and Charo!


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