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Listen: HF Juleene’s "Clickety-Click"

May 2014

Fari Bradley performing "Clickety-Click". Photo: Toby Clarkson

Listen to a recreation of one of the earliest known compositions for an electric instrument, thought to date from 1887.

"Clickety-Click" is one of many scores written by HF Juleene (aka John Parsons) and published in The Musical Million. Thought to date from 1887, it is a march arranged for pianoforte, with a curious clicking element.

Juleene was a music hall performer who together with singer and pianist Dot D'Alcorn (aka Susette D'Alcorn) created an electro-musical entertainment called Mephisto, first appearing in 1884. Mephisto's centrepiece was an elaborate instrument combining piano, harmonium and many startling electrical effects placed around the hall. For the act, Dot D'Alcorn would dress as Mephistopheles and tell how she planned to "electrify mankind". D'Alcorn is possibly the earliest professional female performer of an electrical musical instrument in the UK.

"Clickety-Click" is remarkable for its scored click-e-ty-clicks appearing within the music. These parts are not explicitly stated as being of an electrical nature, but the weight of evidence strongly suggests the piece was originally written for Mephisto, with these parts being intended for the electric castanets that were suspended in the air, and were reported to have kept time with the melodies. This would make the piece a significant early example of surviving scored material for an electric instrument.

This recreation of the piece is played by Fari Bradley and produced by Dan Wilson and Christopher Weaver and was recorded on 28 April 2014 at the London studios of Resonance 104.4FM.

Dan Wilson writes about HF Juleene, Dot D'Alcorn, Mephisto and other examples of electric music in the Victorian music hall in The Wire 364.

Score for HF Juleene’s "Clickety-Click". Photo: Toby Clarkson

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