One in this educational public affairs series that traces the origins and development of the American musical theater and examines the careers and contributions of the creative artists who have made the musical a native American art form. In an informal workshop setting, New York City high school students meet the composers, lyricists, and performers who have shaped the American musical and question them about their work. In this edition, host Jim Morske examines the music of Tin Pan Alley and the barbershop quartet sound. After the CBS Orchestra opens the program with "Waiting for the Robert E. Lee," Morske explains that most popular composers of the 1920s got their start on a stretch of Twenty-eighth street in Manhattan, commonly known as Tin Pan Alley, after which the Buffalo Bills barbershop quartet sings a song typical of the early years of the twentieth century, "Dear Old Girl." After Morske explains how this row of music publishers got its name, the Buffalo Bills discuss the origins of barbershop harmony and the elements that make it different from traditional four-part harmony, using the song "The Halls of Ivy" to demonstrate. They also define and sing examples of "woodshedding," "swipes," and "patter songs." Next, they sing the verse of "Sweet Adeline" to show the intricacy and beauty of a segment of songs often overlooked in favor of the chorus, after which the audience joins in and sings as well. Following Morske's description of some old-fashioned methods of promoting popular songs, the Buffalo Bills perform Harry von Tilzer's popular 1900 number, "A Bird in a Gilded Cage." An example of a song reflecting its era is performed by the CBS Orchestra in "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis," originally written to celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase at the St. Louis Exposition. Morske explains that by 1910, livelier, whimsical songs were gaining popularity as illustrated in a "By the Sea" medley sung by the Buffalo Bills. Even at the height of ragtime, however, sentimental ballads, such as "Love Me and the World Is Mine" remained in demand. After singing the last selection, the quartet reveals how the group was named, and the purpose of the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). The quartet closes the program by leading the audience in a rendition of "Let the Rest of the World Go By."

Cataloging of this program was made possible by a grant from the GRAMMY Foundation.


  • DATE: December 27, 1960 Saturday 12:30 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:28:43
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: T:55115
  • GENRE: Music
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Barbershop Quartets
  • SERIES RUN: WCBS (New York, NY) - TV series, 1959-1965


  • Ned Cramer … Producer
  • Ethel Burns … Associate Producer
  • Neal Finn … Director
  • Hal Hastings … Conductor
  • CBS Orchestra, The … Music Group
  • Jim Morske … Host
  • Buffalo Bills, The … Guests, Singers
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