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Music Groups -abstract names!

GUEST,Tunesmith 18 Jul 09 - 08:12 AM
Snuffy 18 Jul 09 - 09:39 AM
DMcG 19 Jul 09 - 01:57 AM
DMcG 19 Jul 09 - 02:31 AM
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Subject: Music Groups -abstract names!
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 08:12 AM

I don't know if this subject has been aired before - but here goes. When did music groups first start adopting "abstract" names? By that I mean, a name that was just a "label"; for example, in days on by, music groups would be named after the groups' locations - "The London Symphony Orchestra" or "The Sheffield Singers"; or a music group could be named after the group leader e.g." The Benny Goodman Orchestra" But at some point groups started to adopt names that were just "labels" e.g. The Cadillacs. I imagine that there was a transitional stage where groups had names like " The Feet Warmers" which has a literal meaning i.e. the audiences feet would get warm tapping along to the music. Also, a name like "The Skylarks" would suggest that the group singers could sing as sweetly as a bird. But, at some point all that was thrown out the window.

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Subject: RE: Music Groups -abstract names!
From: Snuffy
Date: 18 Jul 09 - 09:39 AM

The Squadronaires were formed in 1939. but there were probably others earlier which included the leader's name and a group name - John Milton and the Miltones. etc

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Subject: RE: Music Groups -abstract names!
From: DMcG
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 01:57 AM

That's a really difficult question, Tunesmith. For one thing, there's no clear boundary in my mind between names that are and are not descriptive. "The Clash", for example, would give a pretty good indication that they are not going to fit easily into mainstream music well before you had heard them. "Steeleye Span" is an interesting example, as it can be a completely abstract label, or a clear indication that they are folk-related, depending on whether you know the song "Horkstow Grange".

My guess is historically groups didn't have names at all, they would be referered to either "Lord X's musicians", based on their sponsor, or "John's band", where John is a prominent member, or else the "Nearby Village Band" based on locality. In each case, it isn't really a band name, is a description that happened to be handy at the moment it was used, not a permanent name.

Permanent names become relevant when the group needs an existance that is separate from its members, and I would guess these would originate in the big churches and universities: "The King's College Choir", and so forth. A big increase in this would happen when recorded music became available. These seem to be predominantly location and chief-member based, until at least the thirties. I would put a name like "the Squadonaires" in the same class, given it is airforce based. The earliest I know of that begins to be more abstract is "The Ink Spots" in 1932.

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Subject: RE: Music Groups -abstract names!
From: DMcG
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 02:31 AM

... according to Wiki, the name "The Ink Spots" was adopted in 1934, even though the members had been singing together earlier under a different name ("King, Jack and Jester" which is still somewhat abstract, but in the style of a vaudeville act, rather than what we would think of a group these days. As I say, it's difficult to disentangle!)

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