Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Some mystery of Hylands music

What's this? 
Well, it's a new piece of sheet music recently acquired from the ebay. Now I've made it a rule to snatch every piece of Hylands Spencer and Yeager music that I see, since most of it is extremely rare, sometimes the copy in sight being one of two or three in existence. Most of the time, this is so with their music, since some of it slipped through Hylands' hands to get copyrighted. 

There's the problem.

Most people who have tried to compile all of Hylands' music have missed most of the music he wrote, simply because most of the music was never copyrighted. This is when things get frustrating. I have at least three pieces of music that either are or advertise pieces by Hylands that were never copyrighted, so that means we can't trace them, not matter how far we look and deep dig, they seen non-existent. This was an issue that began with his days publishing with Len Spencer, and it was with this firm that we see special pieces like the one above that cannot seem to be traced. Now to begin the analysis of the new piece. 

All-right, lets begin with that composer.
Who's that?
Well, I dug around through copyright records, and sheet music source after sheet music source, and couldn't trace such a name anywhere. Well, that means it's a pseudonym, but whose? Well, lets consider what's provided within the music. The inscription atop the first page of music reads:

"To my mother"

 Who was too young to have lost their mother?... ... ... 
Oh! Right, Hylands. Durr. 
Hylands? Well, that makes sense. Especially after looking through the music, there are those little embellishments that were written in such pieces as "You Don't Stop the World From Going Round", "The Darkey Volunteer" and even his much later "Lightning Rag" from 1912-ish. Okay, so the composer is probably Hylands, also because he didn't publish too many really strange composers who were completely unknown, but it's still a little strange. This opens up many more possibilities and theories some of us have had regarding Hylands music, and why it's so hard to track. Here are the reasons that his music is so hard to find and track:

  • Generally, his music wasn't popular enough to be well spread all over the country
  • Most of his music was never copyrighted, so that means that there's probably a whole lot more music out there by him we don't know about
  • He self-publihsed pretty much everything, so that means that there just weren't that many copies made to begin with
  • He probably hoarded copies, and lost them when he moved
  • He sold much of his music to his friends and to phonograph exhibitors(early on), which wasn't that many people
  • He used probably more than three pseudonyms in the late-1900's and early 1910's, because of the scramble he had with the White Rats Union(one of these pseudonyms has been confirmed as "Fred Whitney")

That pretty much sums it up. These are the reasons why music like the subject of this post, and one that I have by him called "Joe! O Joe!" from 1911, which seems to have never been copyrighted, and he's not under a different name. It would be interesting if someone came across a folio of music from many of the three major shows he wrote the music for from 1902-1906, or maybe some obscure Milwaukee or Illinois published music by him from before 1896. Finding older music by Hylands would be essential to our understanding of his style and origins, no matter what the context of the music happens to be(waltz, march, two-step, ballad, coon song, etc.). Clearly by 1896, his music was already interesting, and strange melodically, in accord to the earliest piece we know of his(so far), his arrangement of "Honey Come and See Me", which was originally composed by Charles Horwitz(the composer of that gorgeous song "Lucky Jim"). 

Since we've confirmed "Fred Whitney" as one of Hylands' pseudonyms, and that we've likely found another piece by him(with a different name!), I'd like to connect something. Whitney was his mother's maiden name---something I've already explained  on this blog, which is why that other pseudonym from over ten years later is still Hylands'. Let's refer back to the inscription on the top of the first page in the music, "to my mother", referring to his mother Mary Whitney(assuming that "Dick Thomas" is a Hylands pseudonym), who died in 1893, at a point of time when a few of the family died off, including Etta's husband of only six months or so, who died of smallpox, which might have been what took Mary. Her death must have been something Fred never got over, and it got him horribly emotional at any mention of his mother. That's at least what we can piece together with what we've got so far. Also, Fred seems like the mama's boy type anyway, just from occasional vibes when reading about him and doing some digging. 

**Hope to see some little sections for the Our Tattler contest! Again, PLEASE make some time to write some of these!**

Hope you enjoyed this! 

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