31 January 2014


It makes a change to play a tune beginning with 'Z'!

But the 1935 tune Zing Went The Strings of My Heart is unusual in another way. The Chorus comprises 56 bars. It's also a little unusual in that the words as well as the music were composed by the same man: James F. Hanley. He is perhaps even better known as the composer of the tunes Indiana and Second-Hand Rose.

Hanley fought in the American Army during World War One. He died in 1942, sadly at the age of only 49.

Despite the 56 bars, it feels like a normal 32-bar tune when you play it. This is because it has a simple pattern:

A1:    16 bars
A2:   16 bars (it's A1 repeated, apart from bars 15 and 16)
B:     Middle Eight [ yes - eight]
A3:   16 bars again - an exact repeat of A2.

As well as that, the chord progressions are simple and of a standard kind.

It even lends itself to a spirited vocal.

I can't remember the last time I heard a traditional jazz band play Zing Went The Strings of My Heart, but its structure makes it an interesting one for the repertoire. It can be a very jolly up-tempo number. And a band can make it more interesting by dividing the long chorus between several lead instruments, rather than having 56-bar solos.