Centuries of Sound
Centuries of Sound

At Centuries of Sound I am making mixes for every year of recorded sound. The download here is only for the first hour of the mix. For the full 4-hour version please come to centuriesofsound.com to stream, or patreon.com/centuriesofsound for downloads and a host of other bonus materials for just $5 per month. This show would not be possible without my supporters on there, so please consider signing up or sharing this with someone who may be interested.

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One of the reasons this project started was a musical vacuum. In 2012 I was living in a place where nobody cared much for music of any sort – at best it would be tolerated as a background noise, and generally being noticeable meant being “noisy” and I would be asked to turn it off, or usually not even asked. Soon the headphones were on every day, and sounds became something entirely personal and unsharable. The act of immersion is ultimately a personal one, there is nothing communal about it, so how then to evoke the experience of a single, very traumatic year with a collection of music which most people living through it would not have heard?

The best-selling hit songs of 1940 are not in this mix, either they were recorded in 1939 or they are altogether too lugubrious to be worthy of inclusion. Even if they were all here, the figures that loom largest here – Churchill, Hitler, FDR, Mussolini – would not have cared for them either, and it wouldn’t be until the 1960s that there would be a world leader who appeared to be in any way touch with popular culture (you may be surprised to hear his voice appear in this mix) – no, these people only listened to real music, that is “classical” music, and it was fitting therefore that the historical events caused by their actions (I mean, of course, The War) would be accompanied by wordless orchestral sounds. It is fortunate then that this is also the year Disney released Fantasia.

You most likely know Fantasia as a ground-breaking animated film, which is a fair description. From our point of view, however, it is more notable for its sound design, for which the word “revolutionary” seems entirely inadequate. Conductor Leopold Stokowski, already noted for his pioneering recording work, led the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Academy of Music Concert Hall in Philadelphia in performing a series of pieces. Thirty three microphones were placed around the orchestra, with eight optical recording machines recording. Six channels recorded different sections of the orchestra, while the seventh recorded a mixture of the first six, and the eighth captured the overall sound from a distance. The result is not just the first properly realised stereo recording, it is music recorded with a vibrancy which would genuinely not be equaled in decades. Cinemas were, of course, not ready for this sort of sound, and the film was only initially shown on a limited number of screens which could be properly adapted for the purpose. Wider distribution was hampered also by the running time (over two hours) and the impossibility of distributing anything in Europe in 1940. The result was a financial loss, and reruns were heavily edited, with a more easily usable, but much less special, mono soundtrack. So the astonishing sound we have here was heard by surprisingly few people.

As far as a comment upon the war goes, the violence of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring fits better than any new music written in 1940, but this mix is not without contemporary musical comment on current – or at least recent – events. Most notably, this is the year Alan Lomax sat down with Woody Guthrie and had him expound at length about the horrors of the dust bowl. The resultant recordings formed the basis of his 1940 collection Dust Bowl Ballads, an evocation of a time and place of a sort we haven’t really had before. This is also the year of John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath, Ed Murrow’s London After Dark and Hitchcock’s Rebecca, lending the mix an unvarnished cinéma vérité feel, from time to time. The War Effort and the artifice of propaganda, at least from an American perspective, would not begin until 1942, and we have other troubles in 1941.

And yes, there is also a lot going on in jazz and rhythm and blues this year, but let’s talk more about that next time.


0:00:00 Leopold Stokowski – Toccata And Fugue In D Minor
(Clip of HG Wells interviewed by Orson Welles)
(Clip from The Philadelpia Story)
0:01:06 Woody Herman – The Golden Wedding
(Clip of Deems Taylor from Fantasia)
(Clip from A Case of Spring Fever)
(Clip of Roosevelt Speaking About Cancer Of Nazis And Aid To Britain)
(Clip from Review of the Year 1940)
0:03:48 The Florida Kid – Hitler Blues
(Clip of 1940-02-27 RSH Lord Haw Haw – British Minister Of Misinformation)
0:07:09 Duke Ellington & His Orchestra – Ko Ko
(Clip from How To Improve Immigrants’ English)
0:09:50 Abibu Oluwa & His Group – Layiwola Akande
(Clip from The Sea Hawk)
0:10:36 Jararaca E Ratinho – Sapo No Saco
0:12:45 Abbott & Costello – Who’s On First?
0:15:26 Earl Hines And His Orchestra – Boogie Woogie On St. Louis Blues
(Clip from Pinocchio)
0:18:18 Fats Waller – Everybody Loves My Baby
0:21:02 Andrews Sisters – Beat Me Daddy Eight To The Bar
(Clip from The Bank Dick)
0:22:52 Glenn Miller & His Orchestra – Pennsylvania 6-5000
(Clip from The Philadelpia Story)
0:26:13 Will Bradley Trio – Down The Road A Piece
0:29:20 Tommy Mcclennan – Whiskey Head Man
0:31:23 Meade Lux Lewis – Honky Tonk Train Blues
(Clip from Strange Cargo)
0:35:34 Bukka White – Special Stream Line
(Clip from The Grapes of Wrath)
0:40:04 Woody Guthrie – Lost Train Blues
0:42:23 Woody Guthrie – Breathing In Dust (Speech)
0:44:28 Woody Guthrie – Talkin’ Dust Bowl Blues
0:47:02 Woody Guthrie – The End of The World (Speech)
0:48:19 Woody Guthrie – Blowin’ Down This Road
0:51:19 Woody Guthrie – Migrants Arrive in California (Speech)
0:53:00 Woody Guthrie – Do Re Mi
0:56:00 Artie Shaw And His Orchestra – Special Delivery Stomp
0:58:38 Norman McLaren – Dots

(Clip from H.G. Wells and Orson Welles interview. Radio KTSA San Antonio on October 28, 1940)
1:00:04 Leopold Stokowski – Rite Of Spring
(Clip – Wyndham Lewis – end of enemy interlude)
(Clip from H.G. Wells and Orson Welles interview. Radio KTSA San Antonio on October 28, 1940)
(Clip from Review of the Year 1940)
(Clip of 1940-04-09 RSH Lord Haw Haw – Denmark & Norway Part 2)
(Clip from A Case Of Spring Fever)
(Clip from 1940-05-11 news)
(Clip of Winston Churchill – Speech to Parliament 13 May 1940)
(Clip of Winston Churchill – first radio address as prime minister – May 19, 1940)
(Clip from Review of the Year 1940)
(Clip from 1940-05-28 RSH Lord Haw Haw – Holland & Belgium Invaded)
(Clip of Raymond Massey as Abe Lincoln in Illinois)
(Clip from Review of the Year 1940)
(Clip from 1940-06-03 News with Elmer Davis)
(Clip of 1940-06-04 Winston Churchill – We Shall Never Surrender)
1:22:12 Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra – Die Götterdämmerung
(Clip of 1940-06-10 Mussolini Speech)
(Clip of Winston Churchill – Address to the nation on the RAF)
1:23:55 Emanuel Feuermann With The Philadelphia Orchestra Conducted By Leopold Stokowski – Bloch’s Schelomo
(Clip of 1940-06-20 News with Elmer Davis)
(Clip of 1940-07-04 Arthur Mann)
(Clip from Review of the Year 1940)
(Clip of 1940-07-14 – BBC – Gardner Dogfight Over England)
(Clip of BBC News plus actual air raid on London 1940)
(Clip of 1940-08-20 Winston Churchill – House of Commons – The Few)
(Clip of 1940-07-04 Arthur Mann)
(Clip of Radio Broadcast, London After Dark – Aug 24, 1940)
(Clip of Albert Einstein Interview)
1:42:22 Benny Goodman – Bela Bartok , Contrasts Iii – Sebes

(Clip from BBC – It’s That Man Again – Tommy Handley)
1:45:10 Flanagan & Allen – There’s A Boy Coming Home On Leave
(Clip from My Favorite Wife)
1:47:53 Sam Castandet Et Son Orchestre Antillais – La Rue Zabyme
(Clip of Jerry Siegel – Radio Interview)
1:50:41 Harry James & Orchestra – Flight Of The Bumble Bee
1:52:26 Django Reinhardt Et Le Quintette Du Hot Club De France – Rhythm Futur / Swing De Paris
(Clip from The Bank Dick)
1:54:26 Sidney Bechet – Bechet’s Steady Rider
1:56:50 Sidney Bechet – Dear Old Southland
(Clip of Abbott & Costello – Lion Hunting)
1:57:41 Benny Goodman Sextet – Sheik Of Araby
(Clip of Abbott & Costello – Lion Hunting)
2:01:06 Onitsha Native Orchestra – Angelina
2:04:02 Southern Wonder Quartet – I Am A Pilgrim
(Clip from The Letter)
2:06:12 Artie Shaw Orchestra – Gloomy Sunday
(Clip from Rebecca)
2:10:24 Slavi Velev – Kitka Horo
(Clip of F. Scott Fitzgerald reading Shakespeare)
2:12:06 Babaka – Na Dulga Sofra
2:14:53 Lil Green – Romance In The Dark
(Clip from Suspense – The Lodger)
2:18:35 Louis Armstrong – You’ve Got Me Voodoo’d
(Clip from The Letter)
2:21:40 Billie Holiday And Her Orchestra – The Man I Love
(Clip from Primrose Path)
2:24:44 Ray Noble & His Orchestra – Harlem Nocturne
(Clip from The Thief of Bagdad)
2:28:28 Fisk University Jubilee Singers – Blow, Gabriel, Blow
2:29:54 Ink Spots – Whispering Grass
2:32 Tommy Dorsey (Vocal – Frank Sinatra) – We Three (My Echo My Shadow And Me)
2:35:32 Edith Piaf – L’accordeoniste
(Clip from How To Improve Immigrants’ English)
2:40:15 Quintette Du Hot Club De France Avec Alix Combelle – Les Yeux Noirs
(Clip from How To Improve Immigrants’ English)
2:42:27 Big Joe – If You Take Me Back
2:44:19 Big Bill Broonzy – Midnight Steppers
(Clip from Our Town)
2:46:03 Lead Belly – The Midnight Special
2:48:57 Tampa Red – It Hurts Me Too

2:50:07 Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys – Bob Wills Special
2:52:19 Jimmie Davis – You Are My Sunshine
2:54:05 Adolph Hofner & His Texans – Sam, The Old Accordion Man
2:56:40 Judy Garland & Mickey Rooney – Hollywood Christmas Parade 1940
2:58:08 Al Bowlly – Over The Rainbow
3:00:11 Geraldo (Vocal Dorothy Carless) – I Can’t Love You Any More (Than I Do)
3:02:16 Lionel Hampton – Flying Home
(Clip from The Philadelphia Story)
3:05:32 Dinah Shore – Mood Indigo
(Clip from The Long Voyage Home)
3:07:39 Roswell Sacred Harp Singers – White
3:08:48 The Carter Family – Black Jack David
(Clip from Christmas in July)
3:10:30 Luís Americano – Tocando Pra Você
3:11:57 Carmen Miranda – Bruxinha De Pano (+ Almirante)
3:14:28 Los Cadetes Del Swing – Besame Mucho
3:16:39 杉井幸一 – 九連環
3:19:44 Gus Viseur & Son Orchestre – Rosetta
3:20:54 Django Reinhardt Et Le Quintette Du Hot Club De France – Cou-Cou
(Clip from A Case of Spring Fever)
3:23:33 Hans Busch Orchester – Student Geht Vorbei
3:24:49 Ken Snakehips Johnson (Vocal – Al Bowlly) – It Was A Lover And His Lass
3:26:59 Jazz Gillum – Key To The Highway
3:28:26 Brownie Mcghee – Back Door Stranger
(Clip from His Girl Friday)
3:29:59 Don Redman – Chant Of The Weed
3:32:47 Duke Ellington And His Orchestra – Cotton Tail
3:35:53 Ida Cox – You Got To Swing And Sway
(Clip from All This, And Heaven Too)
3:36:48 Gamelan Musicians Of Yogyakarta, Java – Babarlajar Mataram
3:39:47 Kirishima Noboru & Kikuchi Akiko – Soshuu Yakyoku
3:43:00 Hot Lips Page, Herbie Fields, Donald Lambert et al. – I’m In The Mood For Love

(Clip from John F Kennedy’s First Recorded Interview – 1940 on KROC AM in Rochester, MN)
3:45:35 Leopold Stokowski – The Nutcracker Suite, Op.71a Arabian Dance
(Clip from 1940-09-15 BBC 175 German Aircraft Destroyed)
(Clip from 1940-09-20 CBS – European News)
3:38:34 Leigh Harline – Lesson In Lies
(Clip from Santa Fe Trail)
3:50:12 Jascha Heifetz, Arturo Toscanini & Nbc Symphony Orchestra – Beethoven’s Violin Concerto In D Major, Op. 61
(Clip of 1940-10-05 BBC Robin Duff – in Air Raid Shelter)
(Clip of 1940-10-13 BBC Princess Elizabeth & Margaret – Speak To Evacuated Children)
(Clip of 1940-10-15 BBC – Blitz Emergency Services)
(Clip from Do You Carry Your Gas Mask?)
(Clip from Review of the Year 1940)
3:54:26 Leopold Stokowski – A Night On Bald Mountain
(Clip from 1940-11-15 BBC – Coventry Loudspeaker Announcement)
(Clip from 1940-11-15 BBC Very Reverend RT Howard – Coventry Cathedral Destroyed)
(Clip from 1940-12-31 BBC Herbert Morrison – Minister For Home Security)
(Clip from 1940-xx-xx BBC – Girl Tells Of Bomb Shelters)
(Clip from 1940-12-20 BBC Robin Duff – Sees London Burning)
4:01:35 Beniamino Gigli – Mascagni Cavalleria Rusticana Siciliana
(Clip from Mr Joseph P Kennedy Says Au Revior)
(Clip from Roosevelt Speaking About Cancer Of Nazis And Aid To Britain)
(Clip from Siege!)
4:04:23 Leigh Harline – Desolation Theme
(Clip from Santa Fe Trail)
(Clip from Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collapse Newsreel)
(Clip from Foreign Correspondent)
4:07:22 Ink Spots – Do I Worry?
(Clip from They Drive By Night)
4:10:15 Charlie Chaplin – Speech from The Great Dictator
4:13:36 Leopold Stokowski – Toccata And Fugue In D Minor
(Clip from Princesses Elizabeth & Margaret Address the Children of Britain)

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