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(Boston, MA, 1918-1930)

RIPM Preservation Series: European and North American Music Periodicals (2017)

Publisher: Walter Jacobs, Inc.

Editors: C.V. Buttelman, Lloyd Loar

Periodicity: Monthly

Lacunae: Vol. 7 no. 1 (Jan. 1923); Vol. 9 no. 10 (Oct. 1925); Vol. 10 no. 6 (June 1926); Vol. 11 no. 11 (Nov. 1927); Vol. 12 all except no. 9; vol. 13-14. Copies of these issues will be added as they are made available to RIPM.

Melody: A Monthly Magazine for Lovers of Popular Music was published and edited by Walter Jacobs, a music publisher based in Boston. Initially begun as The Tuneful Yankee in 1917 (forthcoming in the RIPM Preservation Series), Jacobs retitled the journal with the January 1918 issue. Beginning with the January 1925 issue, the subtitle became A Monthly Magazine for Photoplay Musicians and the Musical Home. One of four journals published by Jacobs in the 1920s — alongside Jacobs’ Band Monthly, Jacobs’ Orchestra Monthly, and Cadenza — Melody focused exclusively on popular music during a decade of significant musical changes.

The early years of Melody are consumed with ragtime. The pianist, educator, and ragtime propagandist Axel W. Christensen is present in most early issues, contributing articles on ragtime’s popularity, pedagogical issues, and in promotion of his methods; Christensen’s column “Chicago Syncopations” provides diverse ragtime news. Articles on the developing popularity of jazz appear throughout, including features on jazz musicians and defenses of the musical genre. Articles written for song composers, on musical trends, economics, and compositional problems, appear regularly. Discussions of photoplay music — music to accompany silent films — are a regular topic, one which grows in importance over the 1920s, ultimately leading Walter Jacobs to alter the journal’s subtitle. Musical supplements — featuring recent publications of the Walter Jacobs Company — include suggested works for photoplay pianists and organists, reflective of the journal’s focus on professional musicians. 

No reason is provided for the journal’s demise, however, the rise in sound films at the end of the 1920s decreased the need for photoplay musicians.