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"Baroque Hoedown" was created by early Moog synthesizer pioneers (and frequent collaborators) Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley (Perrey–Kingsley) in 1967. It was contained on the album Kaleidoscopic Vibrations: Electronic Pop Music From Way Out. The composition was once described as being a "harpsichord gone country".
The composition later became the theme song for Disneyland's Main Street Electrical Parade in 1972 and all of its subsequent iterations around the world, Hong Kong Disneyland's Disney Paint the Night Parade, and for a time, Walt Disney World's Electrical Water Pageant. It was also incorporated into Disneyland's Light Magic, Paint the Night Electrical Parade, and Remember... Dreams Come True as a tribute to the Main Street Electrical Parade.
|“||In the 1970s, Walt Disney Productions chose this tune to be the theme for the Electrical Parade. It was extraordinary, I didn't know about it because the publishers said nothing to me. It was by chance, in 1980, that I went there and was so surprised to hear "Baroque Hoedown" arranged for a full orchestra.||”|
|— Jean-Jacques Perrey, text from English subtitle|
Perrey and Kingsley collaboration
Jean-Jacques Perrey met Gershon Kingsley in 1964 at the residence of Perrey's sponsor, Carroll Bratman. They became associates for a period of time and created music together. Baroque Hoedown comes from the second album Perrey and Kingsley made together; “Kaleidoscopic Vibrations.” Perrey and Kingsley made a previous album together called The In Sound From Way Out. The two albums were reissued in 1988 on one compact disc called The Essential Perrey and Kingsley.
Baroque Hoedown is accompanied by 13 other tracks in the album Kaleidoscopic Vibrations, including:
- The Savers
- The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
- Strangers in the Night
- One Note Samba — Spanish Flea
- Lover’s Concerto
- Third Man Theme
- Winchester Cathedral
- Carousel of the Planets
- Toy Balloons
- Moon River
- Mas Que Nada
- Pioneers of the Stars
All of the songs in this album on which Perrey and Kingsley collaborated have a fun, whimsical, futuristic feel. The synthesizer imitates different acoustic instruments in each piece. In the case of Baroque Hoedown, the synthesizer creates sounds that emulate instruments like a piano, a brass section, chimes, a harpsichord, a percussion section, and something that can only be described as a kazoo.
Covers and performances
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Baroque Hoedown, an original by Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley, has inspired quite a number of groups. One of the main groups that liked this new composition was Walt Disney Productions. Walt Disney Productions liked the composition so much that they arranged it for a full orchestra. They used it as a theme song in their Electrical Parade, as mentioned earlier.
During the parade, Disney played Baroque Hoedown as the main theme, and used it as background support while playing the theme songs from their television shows. The melody of this song is featured in a number of theme songs that we all know today. It is featured in the theme from Rock to the Future, The Unbirthday Song, and many more. It was also featured in the short film Mouse Mania.
Baroque Hoedown has been covered a few times. It has been covered famously by The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. This song has also been covered by a duet arranged for viola and flute, with the accompaniment of a piano. This cover is very different to the original soundtrack, as it does not feature any electronic sounds, or a Moog synthesizer. Performances of this piece were done by a recorder ensemble, a flute choir, and also as an ukulele solo.
Perrey and Kingsley are among the first group of programmers who successfully put out a single or album using the Moog synthesizer. Their album also featured electronic versions of popular songs.
Baroque Hoedown today
Baroque Hoedown continues to be used as the theme song throughout the Main Street Electrical Parade at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade: DreamLights! at Tokyo Disneyland. The current Magic Kingdom parade was originally created for Disneyland between 1972 and 1977, and ran there until 1996, and at its sister park, Disney California Adventure, from 2001 to 2010. An identical parade ran at Tokyo Disneyland from 1985 to 1995. An entirely new and technologically updated parade, Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade: DreamLights!, premiered in 2001. In 2009, the Disney California Adventure version of the parade was updated with an updated soundtrack based almost entirely on the DreamLights! arrangement, while largely retaining its 1970s-era floats. This version of the parade was moved from California Adventure to the Magic Kingdom in 2011, where it ran until 2016. It is set to make one final run at Disneyland in 2017.
In 2014, Hong Kong Disneyland premiered its new nighttime parade, Paint the Night, a spiritual successor to the Main Street Electrical Parade featuring two recurring theme songs throughout: a Cantonese-language arrangement of Owl City's "When Can I See You Again?" (from the film, Wreck-it Ralph) and "Baroque Hoedown". With the Electrical Parade relocated to Florida indefinitely, the Disneyland Resort premiered its own version, the Paint the Night Electrical Parade, on May 22, 2015, again featuring "When Can I See You Again?" (now in English) and "Baroque Hoedown".
Use of the Moog synthesizer
In 1963, Robert Moog met German music engineer Herb Deutsch at the New York State School Music Association gathering at the Eastman School of Music. Deutsch encouraged Moog to create the first prototype of a voltage-controlled synthesizer by combining a voltage-controlled oscillator and amplifier model with a keyboard. Moog noticed he could change pitch electronically by adjusting voltage using silicon transistors, thus he created a system that altered voltage by one step in order to change the pitch by an octave. Moog didn’t call the machine he created a “synthesizer” until 1967, the same year Perrey and Kingsley used his machine to write Baroque Hoedown.
In Baroque Hoedown, Perrey and Kingsley used nuances and characteristics of the Baroque style, such as running lines accompanied by a basso continuo (a bass line that is consistent throughout the whole piece), and an ornamented cadence. Perrey and Kingsley also added swung and syncopated rhythms to achieve the "hoedown" feel. In the piece, Perrey and Kingsley didn’t imitate a specific instrument, but rather utilized the electronic sound of the synthesizer. In one section of the piece, Perrey and Kingsley used the synthesizer to create a different timbre from what they had previously used, the timbre of telephone buttons being pushed.
Although Perrey and Kingsley were some of the first to use the Moog synthesizer, the Walter Carlos release Switched-On Bach was the first classical album to use the Moog synthesizer that become widely popular. After Carlos, American avant-garde composer John Cage and jazz musician Sun Ra utilized the Moog synthesizer, as well as pop artists such as the Beatles, the Byrds, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, and the Beach Boys.
The "Baroque Hoedown" melody is used in many songs, including:
- "Main Street Electrical Parade (Retro Future Mix)" from the Dance Dance Revolution Disney Rave game
- "The Theme from Rock to the Future" and "starship.6" by Plus-Tech Squeeze Box as well as their remix of Naivepop or Petitfool's "Bicycle Race"
- "Baroque Hoedown" by They Might Be Giants (recorded for DisneyMania 2, contains excerpts of "The Unbirthday Song" from Alice in Wonderland and "Brazzle Dazzle Day" from Pete's Dragon, which were both used in the Electrical Parade as well)
- "Main Street Electrical Parade" by Reel Big Fish (recorded for Dive into Disney, Japan-only ska and punk Disney tribute CD)
- Film pioneer Mike Jittlov uses a variation of the song as the soundtrack of his 1978 Disney-themed short film, "Mouse Mania", which debuted as part of the prime time Mickey Mouse 50th Anniversary Special
- a version of the song by the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet
- "Baroque Hoedown" is used in the ending theme of El Chapulín Colorado
- The Beatles, under the production of Perrey fan Kenny Everett, sampled "Baroque Hoedown" in their 1968 Beatles Fan Club Christmas record, prior to its use in the Electrical Parade.
- "I, Brobot", an episode of the Disney Channel show Phineas and Ferb, features the Phinedroids and Ferbots dancing to a song reminiscent of the melody
- A cover version featured in the Japan-only Pop'n Music series
- American guitar virtuoso Buckethead plays the melody live during his song "Jowls"
- "A Short History of Baroque Hoedown". Disney Hipster Blog. September 10, 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- "The real story behind the Electro-Synthe-Magnetic Musical Sounds of Disney's Main Street Electrical Parade". Don Dorsey Consulting. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Perrey, Jean-Jacques (2005). Explore the Magic. From One Lightbulb To Another (bonus documentary DVD). Disneyland Resort Paris: Disney.
- "Jean Jacques Perrey's Autobiography, Part Two". www.danacountryman.com. Retrieved 2015-10-13.
- "The Jean Jacques Perrey Interview". www.danacountryman.com. Retrieved 2015-10-13.
- "Disney Hipster Blog: A Short History of Baroque Hoedown". www.disneyhipsters.com. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- "Moog: A History in Recordings—The First Moog Synthesizer Recordings - The Bob Moog Foundation". The Bob Moog Foundation. Retrieved 2015-10-14.
- "The History Page: Turned-on tunes | Moog Music Inc". www.moogmusic.com. Retrieved 2015-10-13.
- "Logic Express 9 Instruments". documentation.apple.com. Retrieved 2015-10-13.