Article " Spelling Bee" by Septimus Winner

Spelling Bee, 1875, by Septimus Winner, 1827-1902.
Spelling Bee, 1875. Septimus Winner, 1827-1902. Music Division, Library of Congress. Call number: M1621.W

Though he wrote and published many choral arrangements, Winner was not primarily a choral composer. Like Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864), his choral writing was limited to close harmony settings of song choruses, usually no longer than a few pages.

Spelling Bee, written in 1875 and published in Philadelphia by the Lee & Walker Company, followed that model. The same company also published Winner's most famous song, Listen to the Mockingbird, purchased from Winner for five dollars. That song sold twenty million copies between 1855 and 1955.

Spelling Bee has a lilting dancelike melody with a strummed-mandolin style piano accompaniment. The playful verses, which invite the listener to take part in the fun, are followed by the nonsensical choral refrain, "B, A, Ba, B, E, Be, B, I, Bickibi, B, O, Bo, Bickibibo, B, U, Bu, Bickibibobu." Under the last system, Winner wrote, "Repeat the chorus several times at the end of the second verse, taking a new letter at each repeat."

Though not originally considered one of Winner's more popular songs, Spelling Bee achieved immense popularity as Swinging the Alphabet, a novelty song sung by the Three Stooges in their 1938 film, Violent Is the Word for Curly. It was the only full-length song performed by the Three Stooges in their short films, and it marked the only time they mimed to their own pre-recorded soundtrack.

About this Item

Title
" Spelling Bee" by Septimus Winner
Subject Headings
-  Winner, Septimus, 1827-1902
-  Popular Songs of the Day
-  Songs and Music
-  Parlor and Concert Stage
-  Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877)
-  Articles
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article
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online text
Description
Article. Though not originally considered one of Winner's more popular songs, Spelling Bee achieved immense popularity as Swinging the Alphabet, a novelty song sung by the Three Stooges in their 1938 film, Violent Is the Word for Curly. It was the only full-length song performed by the Three Stooges in their short films, and it marked the only time they mimed to their own pre-recorded soundtrack.
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Items included here with the permission of the rights holders are indicated as such in the bibliographic record for each item.

In some cases, the Library was unable to identify a possible rights holder and has elected to place some of those items online as an exercise of fair use for strictly non-commercial educational uses. The Library of Congress would like to learn more about these materials and would like to hear from individuals or institutions that have any additional information or know of their history. Please contact:  Performing Arts Reading Room.

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