Songs without words

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sun Apr 25 19:00:27 UTC 2010

The Ventures are a long-lived and very influential guitar-based
instrumental group that had multiple hits in the 1960s. The Wikipedia
entry for the group uses the term "song" many times to refer to
instrumental pieces.

When the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in
2008 the musician John Fogerty spoke about the instrumental hit "Walk
Don't Run" and said, "That song kicked open a whole movement in Rock
and Roll. … The sound of it became 'surf music' and the audacity of it
empowered guitarists everywhere."

Larry Horn mentions the instrumental work "Theme from A Summer" in a
comment above. Billboard magazine in 1969 contains an advertisement
for a version of the piece recorded by The Ventures and the cut is
referred to as a "hit song".

Citation: 1969 June 7, Billboard magazine, Advertisement for The
Ventures, Page 69, Nielsen Business Media, Inc.

           "Theme From a Summer Place"
                         The Ventures
               Produced by Joe Saraceno
The biggest selling instrumental group in the world!
           Hit song No. 2 from their giant LP
                      "Hawaii Five-O"

Theme from A Summer by The Ventures is available for listening on YouTube.

In 1970 Billboard magazine states that The Ventures will "sing the
theme song" for a new television series. I have not heard this work,
but I believe that it has no vocals. A Billboard story the next month
says The Ventures have completed the task, i.e., "have cut the song
for Liberty/UA".

Citation: 1970 July 18, Billboard magazine, From the Music Capitals of
the World: Film Facts, Page 32, Nielsen Business Media, Inc.

FILM FACTS: The Ventures will sing the theme song for CBS-TV's new
"Storefront Lawyers" series. Mort Stevens is the composer. He wrote
"Hawaii Five-O," which was a hit for the group.

Citation: 1970 August 29, Billboard magazine, From the Music Capitals
of the World: Los Angeles, Page 23, Nielsen Business Media, Inc.

Montage Music, owned by National General Records, will publish "Theme
>From Store Front Lawyers," a new CBS-TV series. The Ventures have cut
the song for Liberty/UA.

Benjamin Barrett uses the phrase "Songs without words" for the title
of this thread. Michael Covarrubias mentions "a collection of
Mendelssohn's piano compositions, 'songs  without words'" Robin
Hamilton also discusses these works. A 1914 text claims that "Many
pianoforte compositions are literally what Mendelssohn described some
of his to be; namely, Songs without Words."

Citation: 1914, First Year Analysis (Musical Form) by Thomas Tapper,
Page 92, Arthur P. Schmidt.

Many pianoforte compositions are literally what Mendelssohn described
some of his to be; namely, Songs without Words. In these a distinct
Song melody is so harmonized that, when skillfully performed, it gives
one the impression of a Solo melody with accompaniment. But invariably
in such instrumental "songs" there is a definite form balance
established by the literal repeat of all, or of some portion, of the
opening period - a factor that is rarely present in the best vocal


On Sun, Apr 25, 2010 at 9:48 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Songs without words
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 6:50 AM +0100 4/25/10, Robin Hamilton wrote:
>>(I am old, admittedly not quite as old as Wilson, but dredging through the
>>tattered remnants of my memory, I can barely recall a time when a *purely
>>instrumental* recording achieved popular success in the UK.  That would be
>>in the early sixties, with the Shadows, issued on a 45 rpm vinyl disk.  Yes,
>>children, there was a time ...  And at that, the Shadows only made it into
>>the Top 10 since they were Cliff Richards' backing group.)
> The first such hit song without words I recall making it to the top
> of the [cispondial] pops was Percy Faith's "Theme from A Summer
> Place", back in the early 60s.
> LH
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list