Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bañagale, Ryan Raul. “Selling Success: Visual Media and Rhapsody in Blue.” In Arranging Gershwin: “Rhapsody in Blue” and the Creation of American Icon, 148-73. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue has been used in many visual contexts such as films, television programs, and advertisements, and in the process has gained a sort of inherent meaning associating it with success, the American Dream, New York, and modernity. The visual usage of the music then capitalizes on these new meanings. It was Woody Allen’s film Manhattan in 1979 where the piece, along with other Gershwin songs, was strongly associated with New York City, later reinforced by Scorsese’s Bringing Out the Dead and Disney’s Fantasia 2000. Tied to the connection with New York, the piece is also an emblem for success. The association with success is then further reaffirmed by the usage of Rhapsody in Blue in United Airlines’s longstanding advertising campaign. At first, the piece was used to evoke class and elegance, but over the course of the ad campaign the piece began to signify the success of an American-based airline as the commercials couched the music in different styles like East Asian and western fiddle two-step. Later advertisements in the early 2000s used Rhapsody to harken back to United’s past during a period of economic downturn and bankruptcy and focus on an uplifting and rebirth of the airline. United also used the music in a physical space in the O’Hare airport terminal to emphasize the “fun” of air travel, though it was far removed from the original work.

Works: Irving Rapper (director): Rhapsody in Blue (149-50); Woody Allen (director): Manhattan (149-53); United Airlines: advertising campaign 1987-present (“Nation’s Business”, “Pacific Song”, “Playing Our Song”, “Mileage Plus”, “Rising”, “It’s Time to Fly”, “Interview”, “Dragon”, “Heart”) (149, 158-73); Eric Goldberg, et al (directors): Fantasia 2000 (149, 153); Martin Scorsese (director): Bringing Out the Dead (153); Mark Kirkland (director): The Simpsons: “Elementary School Musical” (155-56); Brad Falchuk (director): Glee: “New York” (155-56); Baz Luhrmann (director): The Great Gatsby (156-58); Gary Fry: Rhapsody Ambiance (170-72).

Sources: Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue (148-73).

Index Classifications: 1900s, 2000s, Jazz, Film

Contributed by: Emily Baumgart

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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