Monday, February 11, 2013

Alice in Wonderland Tune-Dex Cards

When I first saw these, I thought they were those miniature sheet music cards used by marching bands in the attachments on their instruments.  But not so.  These are Tune-Dex cards.
What are Tune-Dex cards you say?  That is a very good question, and one that I spent some time finding the answer to, thanks mostly to an in-depth article on pop-song piracy in the Spring 2004 issue of Stay Free magazine, a portion of which is reprinted here with permission.
"In 1942, George Goodwin, a radio-station director, initiated a subscription service, the Tune-Dex, which he hoped would serve as a card catalog for the music industry, helping individuals in film, radio, recording, and advertising in the day-to-day routine of operations involving programming or licensing. 
The front of each 3- by 5-inch card gave the most familiar phrases of a pop-song melody, with lyrics and chord symbols--shorthand guides to piano and guitar accompaniment. 
The back of each card identified the copyright holder and the performing-rights agency controlling the song's licensing, and it gave references to published versions of the song.
In May 1942, Goodwin sent out the first monthly issue of 100 Tune-Dex cards. The Tune-Dex was a huge and immediate success, adopted industry-wide. 
It ran to 25,000 cards and ended in 1963 only because ill health forced Goodwin's retirement. (He died in 1965.)"
So, gentle readers, what we have here is a piece of pop-music history!  A small part of the music industry's card catalog of popular music if you will.
I've never seen any other examples of Tune-Dex cards from the Alice film, but there must be more out there somewhere, locked away in some radio station filing cabinet.






6 comments:

Major Pepperidge said...

Talk about obscure!

Brian Sibley said...

Obscure, yes, but fascinating!

Matt said...

It is a fascinating article in its entirety, it goes on to discuss how the Tune-dex gave birth to something else entirely, the Fake Book, something which as a non-musician I knew nothing about, although I've seen references to them hundreds of times not knowing what they were.

Jason Motz said...

I have about 1,800 tunedex cards for sale if anybody is interested.

Jason Motz said...

I have about 1,800 tunedex cards for sale if anybody is interested.

Jason Motz said...

I have about 1,800 tunedex cards for sale if anybody is interested.

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