NOTE: The music in this post is not public domain. One can find the same audition-quality versions on the rights-holder’s web site. Yowp.
Everyone knows who Hoyt Curtin is. “Yeah, Yowp,” you’re saying. “He’s the guy that wrote all the music for Hanna-Barbera. You know, like that Flintstones song: ‘Let’s ride with the family down the street. Through the, um, something-or-other.’ There are CDs of the stuff out there.”
Does anyone know who Phil Green is?
He wrote a bunch of music in Hanna-Barbera cartoons, too. But there aren’t CDs of the stuff out there. Until maybe now.
When H-B Enterprises began to develop its first show, Ruff and Reddy in 1957, it did what many TV producers of the late ‘50s did. Instead of hiring a composer, it used music from stock libraries because that was cheaper. There were several libraries around at the time, and one of them was the Capitol Hi-Q library.
Not all the music in the library was composed specifically for it. Capitol either bought or leased library music from other companies. One of them was EMI—which might have been expected given the relationship between the two companies. EMI’s production library was called ‘Photoplay’ and the music was composed by one Harry Philip Green. Read Phil’s biography here. The music was designed solely for background use and not for at-home listening, so that’s why it—and other production libraries—are not commercially available like the latest überhyped pop junk.
For some reason, Hanna and Barbera didn’t use the Green cues in the Ruff and Reddy cartoons, nor in the first season of The Huckleberry Hound Show with one exception. Several cartoons opened, such as High-Fly Guy and Tricky Trapper, with a rolling bass drum and horns. In the Hi-Q library, it was known as “EM-147 Documentary Main Title.” But a year later in 1959 when they were developing a second half-hour show, Quick Draw McGraw, Green’s music started showing up (on both the Quick Draw and Huck shows)—most of it originally from Photoplay’s Q-2 ‘Comedy Cartoon’ set of discs.
A chap who has been mentioned on these cyber-pages before by the name of Earl Kress managed to help get several of those tunes released on Rhino’s Pic-A-Nic Basket of Cartoon Classics in 1996. Personally, I was delighted to hear these for the first time and to learn a little about them. Alas, since then, trying to get music clearance for all the pre-Curtin background melodies in the Huck and Quick Draw series has proven to be impossible; it’s one of the reasons the Quick Draw cartoons are not available on DVD where they belong.
However, I have been alerted by faithful reader—and Hi Q obsesso—Steve Carras that some of these Capitol/Photoplay Q-2 cues are, in audition quality, on-line.
For reasons I’ll never understand, companies re-name old production music when it’s re-released; Capitol did it to all the Photoplay stuff, too. So, as a public service, I am going to link to the music, and list the original Photoplay name. Click on the song name and listen (The “GR” is some kind of numerical code used by EMI):
GR-80 FRED KARNO’S ARMY
GR-84 THE BRAVEST WOODEN SOLDIER
GR-258 THE TIN DRAGOONS
GR-253 TOYLAND PARADE
GR-259 AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER
GR-254 CLOCKWORK CLOWNS
GR-93 DRESSED TO KILL
GR-64 WINDLASS AND CAPSTAN
GR-456 DOCTOR QUACK
GR-453 THE ARTFUL DODGER
GR-87 SKELETON IN THE CUPBOARD
GR-90 THE CHEEKY CHAPPIE
GR-255 PUPPETRY COMEDY
GR 256 TOYLAND BURGLAR
GR-99 THE DIDDLECOMB HUNT
GR-96 BY JIMINY! IT’S JUMBO
GR-77 CUSTARD PIE CAPERS
GR-65 BUSH BABY
GR-63 THE GIRAFFE
GR-459 DAWN IN BIRDLAND
GR-257 BEDTIME STORY
Now, this isn’t the only material of Green’s that was used in Quick Draw, Augie or Snooper—the wonderful overture to what’s generally dubbed ‘Big City Suite 2’ isn’t here—but this is a pretty good sampling.
And, no, this isn’t intended to be a full history of all the music on the early Hanna-Barbera cartoons before Curtin wrote his own (somewhat inferior) tracking library. We’ll try to get around to discussing that in a future post.