Go to CAPS Home Page

Go to CAPS Home Page

Antique Phonograph News
Canadian Antique Phonograph Society
1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Jan-Feb Mar-Apr May-Jun Jul-Aug Jul-Aug Nov-Dec
"Hi-Yo Silver Awayyyy"
Earle Graser - was the voice of the Lone Ranger
from 1933 until his accidental death in 1941.
His "Hi-Yo Silver" was used through the rest
of the radio series and on the TV series.

...the quest for music used on The Lone Ranger.

The following highlights are from a well- received program given by CAPS member Graham Newton at the September meeting.

Radio shows from the Golden Age of broadcasting often used a wide range of music to accent and punctuate the drama being played out by the actors. It was the music that gave a spine-chilling quality to a murder mystery, or the feeling of galloping across the plains on horseback, or even the pathos of unrequited love. The Reader's Digest once commented that "the definition of a classical music 'snob', was someone who could listen to the finale of Rossiniís William Tell Overture, and NOT think of the Lone Ranger".

Few people know that the show producers wrestled with what theme music to use, and had considered the Light Cavalry Overture by Von Suppe as a serious contender, but ultimately, to their credit, they made the enduring choice of the finale of the William Tell Overture that thrills listeners everywhere to this day. For the first few years, classical music was exclusively used on the show for bridges from scene to scene as viewed by your mind's eye. The music was mostly drawn from the RCA Victor Red Seal classical music library, and there was good reason... you didn't have to PAY to use classical music... it was in the public domain!

Finally, having settled on the finale of the William Tell Overture as the show's theme, they used a conventional commercial classical release for a few of the early years of the show. Collectors often sought the version of the William Tell Overture as used on the Lone Ranger from 1940 to the end of the run of the show. The actual version evaded everyone until it was discovered that it, and other music, was specially recorded in Mexico for the show by RCA Victor's Thesaurus Division in order to avoid the AF of M Musicians Union strike called by the infamous James Petrillo. This act left The Lone Ranger with the best music library of any radio show, which remained in use for the remaining years of the program, including being bridged over to the black and white TV show when the radio show ended.

Certain other classical music works played crucial roles in the show, such as the first half "ender" and second half "opener" which was taken from Liszt's Les Preludes, the finale portion called "Strife and Victory".

The REALLY striking mood music originated at Republic Pictures in Hollywood, when in 1937, George W. Trendle, the owner of The Lone Ranger made a deal with them to produce two Saturday matinee 12 chapter movie serials. Trendle was not one to miss an opportunity, and he obtained some of the raw Republic music tracks, used in the films, to add some of the movie flavor to the popular radio show. This was relatively short lived when the threat of the musicians strike loomed on the horizon.

Brace Beemer - The best known lone-ranger of the radio series, was originally the Narrator of the series eventually replacing Earle Graser, his run lasted from 1941 to 1954.

Being a lawyer, Trendle decided to put the Lone Ranger music beyond the reach of the Musicians Union and any music publishers that may be involved. He went to the Thesaurus division of RCA Victor (who were already pressing the 16" transcriptions that the show was distributed on) and had them slightly re-arrange the Republic tracks to avoid any copyright issues. They then took the music to Mexico where it was all newly recorded and became the exclusive property of The Lone Ranger, to do with as they pleased. This music became the "stock" music library that all Lone Ranger shows would draw upon until the end of production in the mid-1950's.

The music had to set the mood of the scene being described, and it all boils down to a few music styles that are described by terms like:

Mysterioso -performed in a stealthy, mysterious manner

Agitato -performed in a restless, excited manner

Furioso - performed in a wild passionate manner

Lamentoso - generally performed in a mournful manner

Grandioso - in grand majestic manner

The Motion Picture industry added some of their own descriptors.

Chase - a rapid movement typically in 4/4 time... mostly for a horse chase

Hurry - similar to agitato, implying continuous fast movement, like a car

Mood music works are often referred to as "cues" because they are cues to the action of a film or drama. You rarely hear it all, or in the clear, since often only a small segment is needed to establish the mood, and frequently the music is covered with dialog and sound effects.

As used on the Lone Ranger show, mood music helped bring to life the changing images in the listeners mind. These little excerpts of music became so well associated with the radio show which used them, that hearing them can transport you back to those "thrilling days of yesteryear"... the days when radio was king. Other shows, which used music extensively, included X Minus One and The Silver Eagle (set in Canada). In the full text version with the 53-minute CD, CAPS members can enjoy hearing these and other excerpts from the golden age of radio.