Charlie conducts the Abe Lyman Orchestra

As a publicity stunt in 1925, Charlie guest conducted the Abe Lyman Orchestra for a gramophone recording of two of his own original compositions: “Sing A Song” & “With You Dear, In Bombay”. The songs may have been played in cinemas before screenings of The Gold Rush or the sheet music to the songs used by cinema musicians to accompany certain scenes during the film. Additional note: Charlie himself plays a short violin solo on both songs: “Sing A Song” (around the 1:40 mark) & “Bombay” (around 4:05).


  1. Hi do you know if he really could conduct or not? Some people say that he could not read the music sheet and when he composed music for the movies, he just hummed the melody to his assistant musician. Thanks

  2. Yes, I believe he could really conduct because he knew the tempo of his own songs and how they should sound, etc. You're right, he couldn't read music & would usually hum the melody to his assistants or pick it out on the piano. But most of the people who worked for him thought that he had a natural ear for music. David Raksin, who worked with Charlie on the music for Modern Times, said that Charlie had the final word on every note of music, and where it was to be played in the film. He was also involved in deciding which instruments would play a certain melody. Raksin thought that the very fact that Charlie was able to visualize the sound was "marvelous and something few people understand".

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