Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Music of Liberty Square, 1980 - Now

Note: this post was significantly updated on January 22, 2018.

This week, we'll be wrapping up our look at the music history of Liberty Square, and taking a deep dive into my personal favorite background loop of all time: the Liberty Square music that played from 1980-2010, which is close to my heart.

Liberty Square isn't an easy area to create music for. The obvious choice is Fife and Drum music, but the aggressive, militaristic aspects of a march don't match the pastoral quality that WED achieved in this area. Imagineering must have considered all of this carefully, because in the build up to open EPCOT, they recorded a loop for Liberty Square instead of asking Jack Wagner to put one together, as they had in 1971.

Establishing the Date

Establishing the date of very old pieces of music isn't always easy. Due to a kinship with an EPCOT Center track that will be discussed below, for many years the Liberty Square loop was assumed to have been installed in 1982, which is to say concurrent with its EPCOT counterpart. But the Liberty Square music can also be heard in numerous early Disney home videos from 1981, which means it predated EPCOT - but not by a heck of a lot. Enough to still have a firm connection to EPCOT.

But my thinking about the loop changed dramatically when Retro Disney World posted one of their restored home videos in late 2014. It's from 1980, it has sound, and at 12:58 in the video, you can hear it - the classic Liberty Square loop.

This changed things a bit. A year in advance of EPCOT Center I could accept as a matter of convenience, but this new video brought us all the way back at least to October 1980 for the loop in question, and to me changed the way we should think of it.

Establishing the Tracks

This was an extremely difficult loop to establish an actual track listing for. To begin with, by far the bulk of the songs in this loop are marching tunes, but played at the leisurely pace of the eighteenth-century drawing room. This means it can be very tough to distinguish the songs by ear.

Further complicating matters is the fact that in the era most of these tunes most readily fit into, it was common and accepted practice to write "parodies" of other songs, fitting new lyrics to established tunes. This was often used for political purposes, so that the Yankee "The Liberty Song" is sung to the British Royal Navy anthem "Heart of Oak", or "Free America" is sung to the tune of "British Grenadiers". Such political profanity even gave rise to our national anthem: the English club song "The Anacreontic Song" is combined with Francis Scott Key's "Defence of Fort M'Henry" to become "The Star Spangled Banner".

Adding yet more complications, certain Disney tracks are interpolated into the mix. By far the most vexing is the first track, which could be heard behind the opening scenes of the 1971 "Hall of Presidents" film:

Buddy Baker's score for The Hall of Presidents is an elaboration of his brilliant score for Great Moments With Mr Lincoln. The Lincoln score itself is rooted in themes originally written for the Walt Disney Productions television film Johnny Shiloh. I've watched both Johnny Shiloh and the George Bruns-scored Johnny Tremain trying to ferret out connections to this first mystery track, all in vain. The song does somewhat resemble a slowed-down version of Bruns' "Johnny Tremain" theme, but not enough to lead me to believe that it was intended to be the same song.

Similar Baker material was recycled into the soundtrack for "America the Beautiful" in 1967, and Walt Disney World Forever listed the 1994 Hall of Presidents cues as "America the Beautiful", apparently in error. For lack of anything better, I've called the track "Constitutional Convention", its name on the original LP.

If there are any specialists of the music of the late-eighteenth and early nineteeth century out there and you recognize something I've mislabeled, please speak up - I'm only working with my own ears here. I've included some dates for the authentic music here to show how careful Baker was in selecting songs of the appropriate time period for Liberty Square.

Liberty Square BGM 1980 - 2010 and 2018 - Present
Buddy Baker/WDP, Arranged by Walter Sheets

01) Constitutional Convention - Buddy Baker?, 1971
02) The Liberty Song - John Dickinson, 1768
03) Chester - William Billings, 1770
04) Yankee Privateer - Traditional; circa 1779
05) Unknown A
06) Yankee Doodle - Traditional; circa 1755
07) Molly Malone - Traditional; circa 1830
08) Free America - Dr. Joseph Warren, 1774
09) My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free - Francis Hopkinson, 1759
10) The Liberty Tree - George Bruns, 1957
11) The Fate of John Burgoyne - Traditional; circa 1777
12) Hail Columbia - Philip Phile, 1798
13) Unknown A
14) Yankee Doodle - Traditional; circa 1755

This version of the loop is compiled from a new induction recording of the American Adventure BGM and secondary sources provided by Chris Lyndon and is presented in the highest quality possible. Most other online presentations of the loop cut tracks 13 and 14, which simply repeat tracks 5 and 6, but this is indeed part of the proper loop and they are retained here.

Download the Liberty Square loop here (MP3 and FLAC).

Background Information

To understand this loop we also have to understand its kin: the area music for the American Adventure at EPCOT Center, opening in 1982. Buddy Baker was music director for the whole of the EPCOT Center project, and the hour-long compilation of American classics which plays outside the pavilion, and the score of the show inside, can be thought of as his "last word" on the subject of the Americana music he had been excelling at for two decades.

The American Adventure loop includes ten of the Liberty Square loop's twelve songs; not present at EPCOT are the repeated tracks Unknown B and Yankee Doodle. The main theater in the American Adventure uses an alternate take of "Hail Columbia" in a slightly more upbeat tempo, probably recorded in the same session. The American Adventure loop also contains about 30 more minutes of post-Civil War songs dating into the 20th century, such as "When Johnny Comes Marching Home", "Sidewalks of New York", and "Summertime".

What this means is that there is definitely a relationship between the Liberty Square music, the American Adventure area music, and the American Adventure show music. The same harpsichord which plays in the Liberty Square tracks kicks off the American Adventure soundtrack, for example. For years it's been assumed that the 1980 Liberty Square track is just a cut down version of the American Adventure track. Is this true?

Listen to the Liberty Square tracks. What you're hearing is a harpsichord, sometimes a flute and horn, and usually a few bowed instruments - salon music, in other words. Now listen to the music recorded for the American Adventure:

The American Adventure tracks include wind instruments, harmonicas, drums, and other features missing from the Liberty Square tracks - even on songs like "Carry Me Back To Old Virginny", which would seem to lend themselves to similar treatment. In other words, they were probably recorded in a separate session, with a distinct group of instruments.

The American Adventure had been under development in one way or another since the mid-70s. It had been worked on long enough ago that Marc Davis, who left WED in 1978, had developed a version of the show called "America Speaks". Davis seems to have been the one who hit on the idea of teaming up Ben Franklin, Mark Twain, and Robert Benchley (later Will Rogers) to host the show. So if recording music for EPCOT's America pavilion in 1980 seems extraordinarily early, it isn't really, even if the final form of the show was still very much an ongoing question. Along with World of Motion and Universe of Energy, it was one of the few shows for EPCOT Center that had been progressing through the WED pipeline unchanged since the 1970s.

I think the Liberty Square tracks sound different because they were intended to be different - and, more pointedly, they were recorded specifically with Liberty Square in mind. The meandering, rolling quality of the "American Adventure" tracks - in line with the easy-listening vibe of World Showcase - are brought together with the sprightly salon music of Liberty Square to form the American Adventure BGM, one of the few loops in World Showcase to have a split personality.

If this split alone doesn't silently suggest that the tracks were recorded with Liberty Square in mind, then the inclusion of two significant pieces of Baker's score for the Hall of Presidents - under the direction of Buddy Baker himself - should seal the deal.

That Darn Sousa Music

That's pretty much how things stayed for 30 years. It may even have been longer; everyone I've ever talked to says they remember that Buddy Baker loop since forever ago. Then, following a major refurbishment of the Hall of Presidents in 2009, the Liberty Square music changed in early 2010.
Liberty Square - Area BGM (Jan 2010 - Nov 2017) 
01. Stars and Stripes Forever [6]
02. King Cotton [6]
03. Washington Post March [6]
04. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers [6]
05. El Capitan [6]
06. The Gridiron Club [6]
07. I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy (Four Cohen Songs) [Edited] [1]
08. Invincible Eagle [6]
09. Gallant Seventh [6]
10. The Liberty Bell March [5]
11. Comrades of the Legion [5]
12. Hail to the Spirit of Liberty [5]
13. You're a Grand Old Flag [7]
14. Stars and Stripes Forever [5]
15. Semper Fidelis [4]
16. The Gunners [4]
17. Radetzky March [4]
18. Ancient Honorable Artillery Company [3]
19. George Washington Bicentennial [3]
20. The Chimes of Liberty [2]
21. National Emblem [2]

[1] Esprit de Corps by the United States Air Force Concert Band (CreateSpace)
[2] Forward March! Great American Marches by the US Army Band (Altissimo Records)
[3] A Grand Sousa Concert by the Nonpareil Wind Band (Angel Records)
[4] Marching to Glory by Various Artists (Pickwick PWK050)
[5] Sousa Spectacular by the Eastman Wind Ensemble (Phoenix)
[6] Sousa's Greatest Hits by the United States Marine Band (Altissimo Records)
[7] West Point on the March by the United States Military Academy Band (Altissimo Records)

Notes: Playlist based on a 2010 induction recording by Horizons and compiled by Horizons and wedroy1923.  Additional information by wedroy1923.  Thanks to Horizons on 04/04/2013 for finishing this playlist.
If fife and drum music made Liberty Square seem too militaristic, then the Sousa and Cohan extravaganza represented by this loop was just as incongruous. Absolutely nothing about this loop was appropriate to Liberty Square in tone or in time period. Even more bizarrely, perhaps as a compromise, the 1980 Liberty Square music - the real Liberty Square music - played in November and December as "Christmas Music". Even a brief glimpse at its track listing above will tell you that the songs have nothing to do with Christmas.

Interestingly, perhaps aware that there is a major disconnect between the Liberty Square music and Liberty Square itself, Imagineering has reduced its footprint over the years. They've begun playing the Columbia Harbour House music around the exterior of that building, and a muted organ version of Grim Grinning Ghosts near the Haunted Mansion, splitting Liberty Square up into three zones, with the Sousa banished to the area immediately around the Hall of Presidents. But as the years passed this didn't seem any more appropriate. Some new BGM tracks, like the Caribbean Plaza Pirates movie soundtrack music or the "contemporary Japan" music played in World Showcase seem weird at first before synthesizing into the whole, but the 2010 Liberty Square track stuck out. It was just a bad choice.

(And here is where the updated sections begin. I've kept my original ending of the article with strikes through it at the bottom of the post in the interest of historical preservation.)

Which is why it was wholly appropriate that the proper Liberty Square music returned in early January, 2018 - it was a nice gift at the end of a tough year. It was appropriate because everything about the architecture and sense of space that WED achieved in this, the richest area of Magic Kingdom, is oriented towards a homey, welcoming, peaceful atmosphere. Liberty Square may be a town on the brink of revolution, but it's also a place where the leisurely turning of a paddlewheel sets the tone and every American president agrees to get along - on stage at least.

The 1980 Liberty Square loop was entirely designed to reflect the atmosphere of the area as it was actually built. And it works - it works perfectly. Few integrations of music and themed design have ever been as snugly, and as tightly woven. As a transition from Main Street into Frontierland, Liberty Square was the pastoral - the slow movement of the symphony between the go-for-broke American optimism of Main Street and the rough and tumble Frontierland.

So next time you're in the Magic Kingdom, stop for a while, relax, and listen to that great music. And reflect on the fact that sometimes good things can come back to us.

Ready for more? Visit the Passport to Dreams Theme Park Music Hub.
Or, hop a monorail to the past and spend a full "day" at the Walt Disney World of the 1970s by downloading Another Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World.

-- original ending paragraphs --

Of course Sousa marches don't fit with Liberty Square - everything about the architecture and sense of space that WED achieved in this, the richest area of Magic Kingdom, is oriented towards a homey, welcoming, peaceful atmosphere. Liberty Square may be a town on the brink of revolution, but it's also a place where the leisurely turning of a paddlewheel sets the tone and every American president agrees to get along - on stage at least.

If I'm right in my guesses above - and I'm willing to bet that I am - then the 1980 Liberty Square loop was entirely designed to reflect the atmosphere of the area as it was actually built. And it worked. It worked perfectly. Few integrations of music and themed design have ever been as snugly, and as tightly woven. As a transition from Main Street into Frontierland. Liberty Square was the pastoral, the slow movement of the symphony between the go-for-broke American optimism of Main Street and the rough and tumble Frontierland.

But the choice for or against a piece of music comes down to more than that, because more than almost any area music I can think of, the 1980 Liberty Square music - overseen and created by two Disney Legends, used in park for two generations without feeling dated - belongs to Liberty Square, just as surely as "Yo Ho" belongs to Pirates of the Caribbean. Six years of marching music in Magic Kingdom's best land is too long. It's time to bring back the 1980 Liberty Square music, for good. Some things just can't be improved on.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Early Music of Liberty Square

Liberty Square remains the Magic Kingdom's most successful area beyond the upper edge of Main Street; it's as small and effortless as it is accomplished and rich. It's as intimate as Magic Kingdom gets, and anchors three of her best attractions. In terms of landmass, it's small, but in terms of artistry, it's large.

Which is why you really, really need the musical background here to be appropriate. I'd argue that Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland can support a wide variety of music styles because they're themed to attitudes and ideas, not places. 

But when you get to Main Street, Frontierland, and Liberty Square, you have to be very careful. People already have an idea of what those areas could feel and sound like, and the key is to meet these expectations while harmonizing with the architecture and the overall message of the area. It's trickier than you think.

Liberty Square is special to me, so for the next few weeks we'll be taking a close look at the music of Liberty Square.

The 1971 Music: A Fife and Drum Extravaganza

Anyone who collects park music has likely come across a scratchy piece of fife and drum music with odd fades in and out which purports to be the very original Liberty Square music. From most perspectives, this file is chock-a-block with problems. The music quality is poor, there's weird fades, and worst of all, it's only 12 minutes long. And this from a subset of the community which is no stranger to mislabeling, subterfuge, and just plain lying. No way this is authentic, right?

Wrong! The original Liberty Square music comes to us from the collection of Mike Cozart, who beat all of us to the punch by getting friendly with Jack Wagner before he died. Many of the early, difficult to verify music loops which circulate in the collector community, such as the original Adventureland Veranda and King Stefan's Banquet Hall loops, come from Mike, who got them direct from Jack.

Mike sent along a photograph of the original Master Copy reel from his collection:

Michael Sweeney has identified most of the tracks in the digital file version of this music reel as we have it today. Most of them come from a 1957 Eastman Wind Ensemble Record "Spirit of '76". Please note that the version which was used to create our music loop in question was the LP version. The same music is available most commonly today via a 1997 CD which compiles "Spirit of '76" as well as another Eastman Wind Ensemble record, "Ruffles and Flourishes". This CD version breaks up the running order of the tracks a bit and obscures some of the choices Jack made in 1971.

Tracks 11 - 13 in this list come from a as yet unknown source. Given the rest all come from a same LP - and appear basically in album order -  may seem rudimentary, but is characteristic of other very early Wagner-era music loops.

Liberty Square Area Music [ca. 1971 - ca. 1980] 
01. Yankee Doodle [1] 
02. Sergeant O'Leary [1] 
03. The Belle of Mohawk Vale [1]  
04. Garry Owen [Fades In] [1]  
05. Dixie [1]  
06. Sentry Box [1] 
07. The Breakfast Call [1]  
08. Rally 'Round the Flag [1]  
09. Bonnie Blue Flag [1]  
10. The White Cockade [1]  
11. Battle Cry of Freedom [Fades In]  
12. Yankee Doodle  
13. The Girl I Left Behind Me [Fades Out]

[1] The Spirit of '76 & Ruffles and Flourishes by the Eastman Wind Ensemble (Mercury Living Presence)

Okay, okay, I'd better say something before the more ardent BGM fans out there start throwing things at the computer screen: this list, and the photo provided of the reel above, don't match up. The reel clearly indicates a run time of 14:40. And then below the 14:40 on the identification sticker in Jack's handwriting, it says "19:10", which isn't correct either. This loop has three different run times, and none of them make any sense!!

Okay, relax, let's put on our detective cap here and go through this one problem at a time.

The Missing 2:40

The loop as we have it comes out to around an even twelve minutes. Thanks to Jack's notation on the reel above, we know that the full length was intended to be 14:40. So where did the missing 2 minutes and 40 seconds go to?

What is evident when you're looking at the original LP instead of the somewhat misleading CD version, is that Jack drew from a very specific set of tracks to create the loop. Each side of the Eastman Wind LP is divided into two suites. Side A includes "Traditional Marching Tunes for Fife and Drum" and "Camp Duty of the US Amy", and Side B contains "Traditional Music for Fife and Drums" and "Drum Solos". He uses the entirety of Side A's "Traditional Marching Tunes" and one Track from Side B's "Traditional Music for Fife and Drums". He doesn't use anything from "Camp Duty" or "Drum Solos". Why?

Rear of the Eastman Wind Ensemble LP
It could be that these suites are very, very heavy on, well, drumming. One reason why he may have added the fade into "Gary Owen" is to eliminate the long drum solo at the start of the recorded track. Based simply on what we have, he didn't seem interested at all in "Camp Duty" or "Drum Solos". In fact, when he needs more music for the loop, he goes over to Side B skipping "Camp Duty" entirely.

Therefore, if the missing 2:40 is from the Eastman Wind Ensemble LP at all - and I'm not saying it is, because we'll never know, but if it is - then it's probably from Side B of the record in the "Traditional Music for Fife and Drums" suite.

Tracks used are highlighted
And it just so happens that the next three tracks on the LP following "The Breakfast Call", which he used, happen to work out to about two minutes and 33 seconds - "The Dinner Call", "Wrecker's Daughter Quickstep", and "Hell on the Wabash".

This would fit in with his modus operandi elsewhere in the loop of simply working down the LP more or less in disc order. The final song in the "Fife and Drums" suite - Downfall of Paris - is a length which would require combination with either an edited track or more material of an unknown origin to hit the required 2 minute 40 second window, which of course is not outside the realm of possibility.

With Pauses?

An additional wrinkle on the Master Copy is Jack's handwritten note: "19:10 with Pauses". This means there was apparently sections of the BGM loop which had no music recorded in them!

As it happens, this 1971 loop used to circulate on the internet broken up into three files: what I've got listed above as Tracks 01-03 was once file one, Tracks 04-10 was file two, and Tracks 11-13 in a third. Sometimes they're presented in other orders, as on Utilidors' copy, but those three groupings remain consistent.

Notice that the first two groupings come from Eastman Wind Ensemble and the third from the as-of-yet unidentified second source.

It seems unlikely to me that whoever broke them into pieces did not do so for no reason. I think they broke them up into pieces to get rid of long gaps between the songs. In fact, I swear I remember downloading this piece of music online in the early 2000s and being baffled that it was filled with long pauses between the fife and drum music. I deleted it, convinced it was a mistake. Now I'm not so sure and I wish I had kept that copy.

So we know that the track is intended to have 14 minutes 40 seconds of music in a loop which is 19 minutes 10 seconds long, which is a difference of 4 minutes 30 seconds.

And if we combine this with my guesses above that the missing 2:40 comes from the Eastman Wind Ensemble LP, and that the missing Eastman tracks would have been all grouped together possibly in LP playlist order, we have a fourth "suite" of tracks which is missing from our version of the 1971 BGM.

That's four distinct "suites" of fife and drum music, three contributed by the same "Spirit of 76" LP, and one from an unknown source. I doubt Jack would have begun or ended any BGM loop with a long gap of silence, that leaves three spaces between "suites" where the silence would have been. 

These three gaps exactly correspond to how these files were broken up while they were circulating on the early internet. And, as it happens, 4 minutes and 30 seconds breaks up into three 90 second pauses exactly. So, one possible 1971 playlist could have been:
01. Yankee Doodle [1]
02. Sergeant O'Leary [1]
03. The Belle of Mohawk Vale [1]
    (90 seconds of silence)
04. Garry Owen [1]
05. Dixie [1]
06. Sentry Box [1]
07. The Breakfast Call [1]
08. Rally 'Round the Flag [1]
09. Bonnie Blue Flag [1]
10. The White Cockade [1]
    (90 seconds of silence)

11. Battle Cry of Freedom
12. Yankee Doodle
13. The Girl I Left Behind Me 
     (90 seconds of silence)
14. The Dinner Call [1]
15. Wrecker's Daughter Quick Step [1]
16. Hell on the Wabash [1]

[1] The Spirit of '76 & Ruffles and Flourishes by the Eastman Wind Ensemble (Mercury Living Presence)

Please remember, this is nothing but a pure guess.  But if I'm right, then the final group of three tracks could have been physically truncated off the reel at some point before Mike Cozart got it transferred to digital - such damage being more likely to occur at the end of the reel than the start or the middle - and then later on somebody else removed the long gaps of no music between the songs.

So why would there be gaps anyway, and what's with the strange fades? Why is this loop so weird?

I think that what Jack had in mind was a bit different from theme park BGM as we know it today. We're accustomed to a constant, gentle musical accompaniment inside theme parks, often in continual hour-long cycles. No such conventions could have informed Jack's choices in 1971 since he was inventing the style as he went. I think what he was going for here was the impression that a fife and drum band could be playing, perhaps just around the next corner. The fades in and out could represent the approach or retreat of another group of minute men.

Let's also not lose sight of the fact that just because Jack was paid to create this loop doesn't mean it was widely heard in the way theme park music is today. As demonstrated elsewhere on this blog, in the 70s the Magic Kingdom sound system was patchy, and wild. You probably couldn't hear most of the music in the park unless you were inside or right under a speaker. Perhaps this only played from a few speakers near the entrance of the land, or only immediately around the Hall of Presidents.

We'll probably never know for sure.  But, yes, we can confidently say that the 1971 Liberty Square music is authentic, even if it only survives today in weirdly incomplete form.

Ready for more? Visit the Passport to Dreams Theme Park Music Hub.

Or, hop a monorail to the past and spend a full "day" at the Walt Disney World of the 1970s by downloading Another Musical Souvenir of Walt Disney World.