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The Unwound Third => Other Musical Interests => Topic started by: Johnm on March 24, 2011, 08:00:44 AM

Title: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: Johnm on March 24, 2011, 08:00:44 AM
Hi all,
We were watching G. W. Pabst's 1931 movie version of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht's "Three Penny Opera" the other night, and I noticed that behind Polly Peachum's song fairly early in the movie, there is a slide guitar ghosting the melody behind her singing.  As you might expect with Kurt Weill having composed it, it's a pretty eerie sound, and it must have been scored that way, there's certainly no improvisation built into the score.  It surprised the hell out of me when I heard it, and it was an interesting and effective musical texture in that context.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 24, 2011, 08:30:39 AM
Ever hear Dave Van Ronk's Mack the knife on his Ragtime Jug Stompers record, with Sam Charters on Jug?
Fabulous!
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: dj on March 24, 2011, 08:39:19 AM
John, could you hear enough of the guitar to tell if it was being played lap-style?  I've heard recordings of some pretty hot German Hawaiian-style lap players from the 1920s.  Germany must have had a Hawaiian craze just like the U. S. did, which is probably how Weil got the idea for the scoring.
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: Mr.OMuck on March 24, 2011, 08:42:03 AM
Also John I seem to recall Zithers in the score,.... could sound similar to slide.
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: Johnm on March 24, 2011, 08:54:05 AM
Hi guys,
It did sound as though it was being played lap-style, dj.  I'm not familiar with the German/Hawaiian music of that era, but it does seem like it might be where Weill got the idea.  I didn't make it far enough into the movie to hear the places that were scored for zither, Phil.  I pooped out, it was pretty late, but will watch the rest of it and listen for it.  Incidentally, this movie has been released as part of the Criterion Collection, and it's a great print.  I never realized the opera takes place in London, despite being sung in German--it's one more layer of weirdness to the atmosphere that Brecht and Weill concocted.
I used to have that Ragtime Jug Stompers album, Phil, and had forgotten about that version of "Mack The Knife".  Van Ronk's version was definitely based more on the original and not on the Bobby Darrin version.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: banjochris on March 25, 2011, 09:28:08 AM
Might have to get this one again from Netflix and listen more carefully!
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: eagle rockin daddy on March 25, 2011, 11:32:43 AM
That DVR album is the best!  He also used to play another song from the musical, I think it was called, 'Oh Show Me The Way to the Next Whiskey Bar' or something like that.  It fit him well at the time.

Mike
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: Stefan Wirz on March 25, 2011, 12:10:20 PM
That DVR album is the best!  He also used to play another song from the musical, I think it was called, 'Oh Show Me The Way to the Next Whiskey Bar' or something like that.  It fit him well at the time.
Mike

More info here (http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/frankie.armstrong/records/letnoonedeceiveyou.html)
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: Richard on March 25, 2011, 12:46:08 PM
And the name of the particular song is....?
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: Stefan Wirz on March 25, 2011, 12:55:26 PM
... for those who like to be spoonfed: >:D
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama_Song
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: banjochris on March 25, 2011, 02:15:37 PM
The Doors also recorded that on their first album.
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: eagle rockin daddy on March 26, 2011, 08:17:56 AM
Judy Collins recorded Pirate Jenny
Title: Re: "3 Penny Opera"
Post by: Richard on March 27, 2011, 03:31:32 AM
Quote
for those who like to be spoonfed

'deed I do  :D