The Phono Project

Exploring the history of the groove

“In the Mood” by Glenn Miller

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

“In the Mood” is Glenn Miller’s 1939 hit song, a recognizable tune that’s sure to get you on your feet. This recording is one of the pinnacle songs of this time, and Miller’s biggest instrumental hit and most-requested number. As popular as it was, “In the Mood” can’t take credit for the riff that makes the tune so familiar, and Glenn Miller can’t take credit for writing it. The song has a slur of repeated arpeggios throughout, which was seen exactly in multiple other pieces in the decade before. Why did Miller’s version become such a hit over the others? Well, that answer may come down to race. Most other bands with the riff were black, and back then, black musicians weren’t allowed to play in big ballrooms. This may also be why black saxophonist, Joe Garland, didn’t get the credit he deserved for actually writing the song.

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