View Full Version : Ukulele book collection found

04-01-2009, 02:05 AM
I posted this on the UC forum (http://www.ukulelecosmos.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=11637&p=137918#p137918)yesterday, but I also wanted to share my good fortune with UU members:

Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by a local used book store to peruse. I noticed a familiar word in large, bold letters on the top of a pile of unsorted books: UKULELE.

There, amidst the collection of tattered romances, the heavily-thumbed crime novels, the science fiction tales and the spy thrillers, was a group of nine thin ukulele music books, held together by an elastic band. The price was $5.

Included in this trove of mini treasures is:
20 Big Hits for Ukulele, arranged by John Lane (Robbins Music, 1956). Contents include Laura, You Never Say Yes, Don't Get Around Much Anymore, Wang Wang Blues, Something's Gotta Give and House of Blue Lights (the last one co-written by Freddie Slack, who was a great stride piano player with the Dorseys and known for his work on such upbeat hits as Beat Me Daddy Eight to the Bar and Down the Road Apiece).
Irving Berlin Songs Arranged for the "uke", by Roy Smeck (Irving Berlin Music Corp, 1950), including 20 songs: Always, Blue Skies, Marie, Mandy, The Girl That I Marry and others.
Roy Smeck's Ukulele Fun Book; A Pocketful of Unrivalled Song Hits (Edward B Marks Music Corp., 1950). Includes In the Good Old Summer Time, Ballin' the Jack, Glow Worm, Pionciana and El Rancho Grande, etc.
Smith's 200 Songs for Ukulele, revised edition (Wm. J. Smith Music Co, copyrighted 1924, 52 and 54). Includes La Cucaracha, Whispering Hope, Skip to My Lou, Two Gun Bill, Darlin' Let Me In, The Farmer in the Dell, Home Sweet Home, Tourelay, Rock of Ages and many more. A bit odd - a lot of the songs show the chords under the words, not above the staff, so it takes some getting used to.
May Singhi Breen Collection of Ukulele Solos (Robbins, 1955). The "Ukuklele Lady's" collection of what appear to be chord-solo songs a la Lyle Ritz, including June Night, Lilacs in the Rain, Runnin' Wild, Wabash Blues, When You Wore a Tulip and others. She produced several uke books, and I'd like to find more of them.
20 All-Time Ukulele Hit Paraders, (Chas. H. Hansen Music Co, 1950), including You Are My Sunshine, Georgian on My Mind, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Toolie Oolie Doolie, Green Eyes and others.
Mills Favorites for Ukulele, Arranged by Roy Smeck (Mills, 1950), including Jealous, When You're Smiling, Diga Diga Doo, The Sheik of Araby, Ma He's Makin Eyes at Me, Let a Smile be Your Umbrella, and others.
The Remick Ukulele Song Book, As arranged and played by Roy Smeck (Remick Music Corp., 1950), including It Had to be You, I'm Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover, Bye Bye Blackbird, Carolina in the Morning, Tamiami Trail, Sweet Georgia Brown and more.
Ukulele Ike: Collection for the Ukulele #1 (Miller, 1949). This has previously been provided by other members as a PDF.

Quite a find, and sheer serendipity that I was there at that time. Many of the songs appear to be in the public domain - they're from the 1920s and 30s. Over the next few weeks I will try to get some quiet time on the scanner at work and put them into PDF format to share with my fellow uke enthusiasts.

I have another little gem - really quite a good collection - that I'll also include:
A Pocketful of Songs for the Uke, complied and edited by Harry Reser (Shapiro, Bernstein & Co, 1950) including Sweet Sue - Just You, Side by Side, If You Knew Susie, Sunny Side of the Street and others.
I really like this collection. It has some nice arrangements in it.

I tried a few songs from the others last night and found them a mix of interesting and awkward arrangements. But you can decide for yourself. I'll post a link as I get them scanned.

04-01-2009, 02:45 AM
...looking forward to your PDFs...

04-01-2009, 02:52 AM
What a find! Thanks ahead of time for all the work of copying and posting! I know I'll be browsing those PDFs fo' sho'! :p

Ukulele JJ
04-01-2009, 02:53 AM
What a great find! Thanks for offering to post them.



04-01-2009, 06:29 AM
What a great idea! Thanks in advance for whatever you manage to do. Sounds like you have enough songs there to keep us all busy for years! I know it's a lot of work, but we really appreciate your efforts!!! :worship: :music:

Many thanks! – Lori

P.S. –Hey, if you need help scanning, and want to divide up the task, I have an oversized scanner that can do 2 letter sized pages at once.

Captain Google
04-01-2009, 06:39 AM
That is truly awesome. I look forward to seeing those PDFs. :shaka:

04-01-2009, 11:30 AM
Nice find...
Every so often I swing by a couple of local used book shops that have old sheet music too, looking to see what I can find.

The "Ukulele Lady" May Singhi Breen was quite busy back in the day it seems.
I have found a few pieces that credit her for the Ukulele arrangement, today I picked up one titled "Sugar" from 1927 done by her.

Ahnko Honu
04-01-2009, 11:47 AM
WOW< That's great! over the years I've found a few nice pre WWII ukulele song, and instructions books on eBay at reasonable prices. Never thought about scanning and posting them, I know more about PFDs than PDF. :rolleyes:

04-01-2009, 12:30 PM
Cool find .

04-02-2009, 01:17 PM
Thanks for being so generous with your find. Looking forward to trying out some of the songs (at least the simple ones)

04-03-2009, 05:36 PM
that's such a cool find. can't wait for the pdf's

04-03-2009, 07:58 PM
That is awsome of you to share! What a great find.

04-05-2009, 02:13 AM
A link to the titles I've scanned so far:

vintage ukulele music books (http://www.ianchadwick.com/essays/musicbooks.htm)

Three more to scan; hope to have them completed by next weekend.

Captain Google
04-05-2009, 05:40 AM
Nice work. I'll get to downloadin' soon. :cool:

Ahnko Honu
04-05-2009, 07:39 AM
MAHALO Ian, GREAT job! I am a Adobe Acrobat total nOOb, if wanted to do the same with several old song books how do I go about doing it? All I know how to do is scan into jpg format. Do I need a special program beyond the reader? Is there a online tutorial somewhere? Mahalo.

04-05-2009, 07:50 AM
AMAZING!!! Thanks so much. May Singhi Breen's Ukulele Solos is my fave so far. :D

04-05-2009, 08:59 AM
What wonderful gems. Thank you ever so much Ian.

04-05-2009, 10:17 AM
I am a Adobe Acrobat total nOOb, if wanted to do the same with several old song books how do I go about doing it? All I know how to do is scan into jpg format.
There are numerous programs available online that will convert any file to PDF, but it's a laborious process to build one from JPG files because you have to scan each page and insert/merge them in order, individually, to get a full PDF file for a book.

Scanning to PDF is often an option offered in scanner software, so check yours to see if that's already built in.

I have the advantage of owning a copy shop which has copiers with scanners that will save as PDF, so it's a lot easier. I still have to scan each page, and crop or rotate them as necessary afterwards, but it's somewhat easier since I've done it for a few years. Mostly takes me time and I do it after hours. (I could probably offer this as a free service to UU members... send me your vintage uke books, I'll scan them, and mail them back, and email the files. I'll scan the cover as a colour JPG and PDF, too.).

As a suggestion: go to a local copy shop and ask if they have that service. Some will offer it as self-serve, too. And you can download a PDF editor to do the cropping/rorating as necessary at home.

An alternative that I use is Corel Draw. Great, affordable multi-page graphics program. Simply import each JPG into its own page, then use the built-in 'publish to PDF' to create the file.

Finally, if you want a full PDF editor, you'll have to buy Adobe Acrobat.

Captain Google
04-05-2009, 10:50 AM
By the way, I found that the last five pages of the Irving Berlin book are upside-down. Just thought I'd alert you to that little issue.

Other than that, awesome work! :shaka:

Ahnko Honu
04-05-2009, 11:32 AM
Mahalo Ian for all info. I'm saving my pennies to feed my UAS addiction so no mo' money for Adode Acrobat. :rolleyes: I just now downloaded a PDF writer freeware called cutePDF and i'll play with it: http://www.cutepdf.com/

04-05-2009, 11:53 AM
By the way, I found that the last five pages of the Irving Berlin book are upside-down. Just thought I'd alert you to that little issue.
Yipes! Thought I'd fixed that. Might have posted the older file. I will get it corrected Monday (the original file is at work where the scanners are).

I was serious - I can scan old books and make them into PDFs....

04-06-2009, 05:45 AM
Fixed the Berlin book, but disabled the link until the copyright issue is resolved.

Meanwhile, I added three more books this morning - the Smith's 200 and Uke fun book, as well as the Witmark Dance Folio from 1934 (with By a Waterfall in it - John K should appreciate that one).

I'm also adding some vintage songsheets I have.

04-06-2009, 09:45 AM
Fixed the Berlin book, but disabled the link until the copyright issue is resolved.

Meanwhile, I added three more books this morning - the Smith's 200 and Uke fun book, as well as the Witmark Dance Folio from 1934 (with By a Waterfall in it - John K should appreciate that one).

I'm also adding some vintage songsheets I have.

Hope you can get an OK on the Irving Berlin book! I wish I had noticed it before it was taken down. I could have fixed the upside down problem. Anyway, amazing work! I know how much time you must have put into all that scanning... WOW. You're the best. :smileybounce: Makes me want to contribute to your Paypal link! I think I will right now....!


04-07-2009, 02:16 AM
Thanks everyone for your donations. It really helps cover my hosting costs.

I'll research the copyright issue further this week. If someone has a copy of the Elderly book, perhaps you could send me the info on the copyright info listed in it. The book I have says copyright 1950. As I recall from my days in publishing, that meant the copyright ran out in 2000 (as I recall it was 50 years until fairly recently). It could have been renewed, however.

The curious thing is that the songs don't list a copyright date - so the copyright must refer to Smeck's arrangements instead (and to his introductory material). The songs are all much older - Alexander's Ragtime Band is 1911, the oldest of the lot (anything dated 1923 and earlier is pretty much all public domain).

That makes me wonder if a simple rearrangement - say changing the D tuning to C or altering a 7th to a major chord - would qualify as a new work and thus circumvent copyright concerns?

Searching copyright databases (http://www.scils.rutgers.edu/~lesk/sr.php)shows several Roy Smeck (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roy_Smeck)titles, but not this one. Ditto on the Stanford copyright renewal database (http://collections.stanford.edu/copyrightrenewals/bin/search/simple/process?query=roy+smeck).

And a search for Irving Berlin books shows several arranged for tenor banjo, but not ukulele. So it looks to me like the copyright has expired and was not renewed. Thus I restored the link. As it notes on the Stanford database (http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/04/stanfords_copyr.html):

The copyright status of any work published between 1923 and 1963 is very difficult to determine. Between those dates, a renewal registration was required to prevent the expiration of copyright. However, determining whether a work's registration was renewed is a challenge. Renewals received between 1950 and 1977 were announced and distributed only in a semi-annual print publication. The Copyright Office does not have a machine-searchable source for this renewal information, and the only public access is through the card catalog in their DC offices.

It is not unusual for a published to pick up a book in the public domain and reprint it (hence recent editions of Conan Doyle, Dickens, Shakespeare, etc). Perhaps that is how the Berlin book got reproduced. I don't have the resources to check on the status of those books in Washington, but will continue my efforts online.

It also looks like the May Singhi Breen copyright was renewed in 83, although none of her other titles were renewed (at least not showing in the renewal database). So more research is necessary - while one may go back up, another might be taken down. It's my goal to share information and knowledge with fellow enthusiasts, but not violate any copyright laws.

Anyone with any more concrete information, please contact me.

Which makes me wonder how the Maine Music Box can reprint so many songsheets still in copyright?

I have one more songsheet to add, BTW, but it may be too recent. Again, will check.

04-07-2009, 03:07 AM
Hi Ian,

this is really wonderful stuff. Perfect gems of ukulele music. Do you mind me posting a link on the german forum? I am sure my fellow ukeists would enjoy some oldtimey sheets.