Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Hamberlin, Larry. “Visions of Salome: The Femme Fatale in American Popular Songs before 1920.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 59 (Fall 2006): 631-96.

After the Met’s infamous one-night-only premiere of Richard Strauss’s Salome in 1907, a fad for stage and song representations of Salome and her Dance of the Seven Veils (dubbed “Salomania” by the New York Times) hit America. The reception of Salome in America was contextualized by an earlier fascination with “exotic” Egyptian dancing on display at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair as well as a trend of Salome-themed vaudeville acts. Because of this earlier exposure, songwriters during the Salomania craze tended to be more aware of the inauthenticity of Orientalist dancing and poked fun at the scandalous opera and vaudeville interpreters alike. A popular theme was the artifice of Salome’s exotic seduction. Many Salome songs used the Salomy [sic] melody, a minor-key tune built from a 1–flat 7–5 core that came to be associated with pseudo-oriental dancing. The earliest known examples of the Salomy melody appear in Mariutch Down at Coney Isle (1907) and I’m Going to Get Myself a Black Salome (1908), although it is likely these songs quote an unknown earlier tune. Moreover, songs about a black Salome are likely referencing a real individual, vaudeville dancer Aida Overton Walker, who attempted to perform a restrained Salome as a springboard to artistic legitimacy but was rejected by audiences. After Strauss’s Salome returned to American opera houses in 1909, Salomania reached its peak and interest began to decline. Clarice Vance’s 1909 parody routine “Salome” and others like it lampooned the Salome craze itself. In the aftermath of Salomania, the Salomy melody receded into a general orientalist trope, used indiscriminately to evoke exoticism but not Salome herself.

Works: Harry Von Tilzer: Mariutch Down at Coney Isle (642, 647, 659-60); Stanley Murphy and Ed Wynn: I’m Going to Get Myself a Black Salome (658-64); Ben M. Jerome and Edward Madden: The Dusky Salome (660, 663-65); Archibald Joyce: Vision of Salome (660, 677-80); Jimmie V. Monaco and Joe McCarthy: Fatima Brown (661, 682-84); Abner Silver and Alex Gerber: Becky from Babylon (661, 683-85); Richard Howard: When They Play That Old ‘Salomy’ Melody (661, 686-88); Gus Kahn and Bud De Sylva: Moonlight on the Nile (661, 688-89); Ted Lewis and Frank Ross: Queen of Sheba (661, 688); Sigmund Romberg: Fat, Fat, Fatima (661, 688); Orlando Powell and John P. Harrington: Salome (671-74)

Sources: Unknown: Salomy melody (659-65, 677-88); Harry Von Tilzer: Mariutch Down at Coney Isle (659-60, 676); Felix Mendelssohn: Lieder ohne Worte, Op. 62, No. 6 (Spring Song) (673-74); Richard Strauss: Salome (677-81); Georges Bizet: Carmen (688); Edvard Grieg: In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt (688)

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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