amateur history

W. L. Hayden revealed

The author of Centennial Grand March and arranger of Celebrated Shoo Fly Galop and Must I, Then turns out to have been a music teacher and equipment dealer in Boston.

What catches my eye is that he was both a musician and a businessman in the music industry, selling instruments and equipment but also composing and teaching. It’s like Guy Hands of EMI putting out his own CDs.

I ran across this ad in C. F. Martin and His Guitars, 1796-1873, which is a great book about American music history.

7 replies on “W. L. Hayden revealed”

One of those “miracle of the printing press” moments, when a bit of printed matter and a centralized depositary let an ordinary salesguy and musician preserve his work for posterity.

I hear too often creative people say that they cannot engage in commerce–but I think, sometimes, that so many creative people in history, and particularly in American history, have–and have thrived.

I think of Charles Ives, starting in the actuarial department of an insurance company, and ultimately owning an interest in an insurance firm–and generating fascinating music without fear of “commerce”.


WRT ‘One of those “miracle of the printing press” moments, when a bit of printed matter and a centralized depositary let an ordinary salesguy and musician preserve his work for posterity.’: that’s beautiful, man. YES!

While I’m poking around in historical stuff sometimes it strikes me that these people would be very pleased to be rediscovered far in the future.

That Rhoades thing is classic. It also makes me think that we are not, after all, as far removed from the 18th or 19th C. as we like to think, as one could easily imagine a similar collection in an essay book about a guitarist in Hayden’s time.

This latest jag of musical history you’re featuring has not only been entertaining for me, but also gotten me thinking.

I really admired that thing you said about how you wanted to do covers and not originals to avoid pretension. There’s an integrity to that if one views it from perspective of the wonders and flaws of the singer/songwriter “lens” which was a part of our youth. Yet in the pre-record-industry 19th C., fellows like Hayden, while revering what came before, would not hesitate to write new material.

The difference is that they did not see themselves as “voices of a generation” or as “making a statement”. They were creating music in the same way they sold guitars–as part of the shared experience of spreading music. Although the IP legalistic issues were completely different, the idea is the same as our “sharing economy”. We create music to share less because we want to be “rockstars” than because we want to be part of a dialogue about spreading music.

In this vein, in addition to spreading and revering Hayden’s music, I can see that there is a place for song-writing Hayden-esque music as well–not music to “be all” or “end all”, but PD/GNU/CC/Free Art License music
that people can play without fear of being sued. In Hayden’s time there was a demand for parlor music, but a dearth of product for the guitar. In our time, there is ample copyrighted product, but a dearth of product
for free use (neither you nor I are offended by copyright or artists making money, of course, but that’s a different discussion).

In this vision, if you or John Pazdan or Victor or whomever could write new guitar pieces like Hayden’s, to meet this need, like living issues of old Sing Out! magazine, that would be the least pretentious way possible to make a difference with guitar song-writing, next to performing PD works by the Haydens of the world.

I am sure all these people would be thrilled, and in my odd universalist view, perhaps in fact they are :).

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