Greenhill Grammar school, Oldham




T H E     G R E E N H I L L I A N  


No. 7  December 1958



The Magazine of









In this my one and only editorial I should like to take the opportunity of touching upon a subject which has never before been mentioned in our magazine, but which has come more and more to the forefront recently, that of music, from the classics to rock and roll.

"Mary had a little lamb." These were the first words ever to be heard via the wireless and they were spoken by Edison's assistant. From this science progressed until the invention of the flat record in the early twentieth century, used by a collection of small recording companies in England and America. During the first World War production stopped, but a German invented a method of recording on steel tape and this became known as the Blacknaphone. From this progress followed two lines, those of steel tape and steel wire, right up to the modern tape recorder which has a magnetic-powder coated tape capable of highest quality sound reproduction. Parallel with this invention ran the discovery of the flat records, which were all of shellac base played on various machines of doubtful fidelity, from the horn type to the new electrical pick-up. With the advent of an improved electronic knowledge and equipment, the problem of amplifying sounds electrically instead of automatically led to a rapid improvement in quality. During the 1930's a research programme led to the cousin of the modern L.P. Extensive publicity by radio and advertising led to a revival in the record world which has since shown no sign of abating. Following closely upon what appeared to be the almost perfect sound recording came yet another innovation, for with the addition to existing equipment of little more than another speaker and a new pick-up, stereophonic recordings can be played. No longer does sound appear to emerge from "a box in the corner" but the whole room seems filled with a sound that almost lives. To listen, for example, to the recording of the pipes and drums of the Scots Highlanders is almost to see the swirl of their kilts and to smell the tang of the heather.

Shame is it that, in the face of the now available near-perfection of musical reproduction, the taste in modern music seems to be deteriorating. Rather than listen to the world's finest artists playing the world's finest music that is now so freely available, they almost without exception fall prey to the latest gimmicks of the recording engineer and the meaningless gibberish of the so-called "rock 'n roll" writers, who between them produce the noises which seem to constitute the greater part of what is colloquially known as the "Top Twenty." The gyrating rhythm fans ought to listen to the Ritual Fire Dance of Manuel Defalla and the devotees of the plaintive tune to a Chopin Nocturne. Have the lovers of musical fireworks never heard the Third Movement of Mendelsohn's "Italian Symphony" ?

It should not be assumed from this, however, that all good music is classical, nor that all classical music is good - let us face it. Music after all, is a means of expressing an emotion in the same way that Milton's "Paradise Lost" expresses his. Early jazz was making more than an expression of the newfound feelings brought about by the newly-found freedom of the Southern negro slave; he was musically uneducated and instrumentally ill-equipped, but he had a story to tell and he told it sincerely and to the best of his ability. The folk music of all countries, such as "Loch Lomond" and the American tramp song "The Big Rock Candy Mountains," are an expression of the lives and emotions of many peoples. As well as the classics therefore, one must also include in one's musical education the classical jazz of such men as Fatz Walla, Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet and others. But one's education is unlikely to show any noticeable gaps if in the cause of this study one is unable to find time to listen to the "Pick of the Pops."

In fact, the present trend of modern popular music can best be summed up by lifting from its very midst a title, "Hoots, mon."