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American Popular Music

  • Period: to

    Stephen Collins Foster

    In this period, Foster prouced around 2000 songs. He was likely the first person to be a full-time professional songwriter, as he was able to live off of the royalties generated by sales of sheet music. Foster wrote songs such as "Oh! Susanna" and "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair".
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    Rise of Modern American Music Business

    This period saw the rapid rise of the music industry- a single song could now sell more than a million copies. Tin Pan Alley became the center of music publishing and business. Sheet music sold faster than ever before, and the value of printed music tripled between 1890 and 1909.
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    Ragtime Craze

    The identifying element of ragtime music is its syncopation, with melodic accents shifted onto the offbeats. The poularity of ragtime demonstrates the intensification of African American influence in American music. Scott Joplin is the best known ragtime composer, and his "Maple Leaf Rag" was a huge hit.
  • The Tango Gains Popularity

    The Tango Gains Popularity
    In the US, the tango was primarily promoted by dancers such as Irene and Vernon Castle. It was also popularized by the silent movie star Rudolph Valentino. It is a direct influence of Latin American music and culture on American Music.
  • "Castle House Rag"

    "Castle House Rag"
    This song was performed by James Reese Europe's Society Orchetra in 1914. This orchestra was significant in that it was the first black group to sign a contract with a record company. It has influences from ragtime and marching band music.
  • First "Jass" Recording

    First "Jass" Recording
    The first recording to be designated as jazz was made in New York in 1917. It was recorded by ODJB and featured cornet player Nick LaRocca. ODJB later went on to record other influential songs like "Tiger Rag".
  • "Tiger Rag"

    "Tiger Rag"
    This song was written by Nick LaRocca and performed by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. It makes heavy use of snycopation and stoptime sequences.
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    Ambassador Orchestra

    During this period, Paul Whiteman's Ambassador Orchestra was the most successful dance band. Whiteman's contribution to jazz is controversial, as he widened the market for the genre but also promoted a "watered-down' version of the genre to the public.
  • Bessie Smith: "St. Louis Blues"

    Bessie Smith: "St. Louis Blues"
    In this selection, Smith and her accompanists respect the fomal clarity of the original composition while using it's structure as a springboard for discreet improvisations. Although Smith wasn't a rural blues singer, she approached the song as a performer closely familiar with the many oral traditions of African American music. This allowed her freedom in performance that was substantial but never inappropriate.
  • "Black Snake Moan" Recorded

    "Black Snake Moan" Recorded
    In 1926, Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded the song "Black Snake Moan". This song is significant because it was a departure from the Tin Pan Alley Style and it used new vocal techniques.
  • "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo"

    "East St. Louis Toodle-Oo"
    This song was recorded by Duke Ellington and His Washingtonians in1 927. It was regarded as the theme song of the group. "East St. Louis" showcases Ellington's "jungle" style and his talent as a musician.
  • Mississippi John Hurt originally records "Satgolee"

    Mississippi John Hurt originally records "Satgolee"
    Hurt originally recorded "Stagolee" in 1928 on Okeh Records, but it was a commercial failure.
    Stagolee mixes the European American elements of the ballad song, which tells a story, and the African American elements of the blues.
    Stagolee tells the story of an African American "bad man" who kills a man over a Stetson hat.
  • "West End Blues"

    "West End Blues"This was one of Louis Armstrong's biggest songs, and definitely one of his most influential recordings. This song defined jazz as a true art form. It features a variety of instruments and his wordless "scatting" technique.
  • Jimmie Rodgers: "Blue Yodel No. 2"

    Jimmie Rodgers: "Blue Yodel No. 2"
    Rodgers' "high, lonesome sound" in his blue yodeling is similar to the wordless groans and howls in blues recordings of rural black artists. This was used to show the intensity and severity of the singer's feelings. The tone of this recording is very personal, which was not unusual in Rodgers' blue yodels.
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    Rise of Latin Dance Music

    During the 1930s, Latin Americans began to play in bands across America. Their biggest influence was on Florida because it is close to Cuba. The son and danzon were two popular styles of Latin American music defined by the areas where they were popular, whether rural or urban.
  • "Long John"

    "Long John"
    “Long John” was performed by Lightning John and his fellow convicts the Darrington State Prison Farm in Texas in 1934. It is a work song that contains several biblical references. It is recorded in the call and response, with a lead vocalist singing a line, and that line then being repeated by the rest of the vocalists.
  • "Wrappin It Up"

    This song was recorded by Fletcher Henderson & His Orchestra in 1934. This group was responsible for the rise of swing music to popularity.
  • "Caravan"

    The Duke Ellington Orchestra performed and recorded this song. Ellington reworked this song many times along the years, but this version is unique for its subtlety and freshness.
  • "Taking A Chance on Love"

    This song was performed and recorded by Benny Goodman and His Orchestra. This song reached number one on the Billboard charts and used elements like call and responsse that were typical in swing arranging.
  • Nancy

    This song was recorded by Frank Sinatra. It makes use of string instruments and peaked at Numer 10 on the Billboard charts.
  • Choo Choo Ch'Boogie

    Choo Choo Ch'Boogie
    This song was recorded by Louis Jordan's Tympany Five on 1946. It's an example of the "Jump Blues", which flourished after World War 2.
  • It's Mighty Dark to Travel

    This song was recorded by Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys. It's an example of the neotraditionalist movement that took place within country music, and can be most accurately described as bluegrass music.
  • Mambo No. 5

    Mambo No. 5
    This song was performed and recorded by Perez Prado and his orchestra. Its Latin American influences are very obvious, and this song was a huge commercial success.
  • Hoochie Coochie Man

    This song was written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Muddy Waters. It shows how the old Delta blues style was reimagined to survive in the face of the newer Chicago electric blues.
  • Mystery Train

    Mystery Train
    This song was originally recorded by Herman Parker, and Elvis Presley then later made a popular cover recording of it. While Parker's version is slower and more bluesy, Presley's version is full of intensity ad excitement.
  • "Barbary Allen"

    "Barbary Allen"
    "Barbary Allen" was recorded by Jean Ritchie in 1960, and is also known as "Child Ballad #84". It is a good example of the Biritsh ballad tradition, which has influenced many genres, and of old-time music, which is made up of string band music, ballad songs, and work songs.
  • Lady

    This song was written by Lionel Richie and recorded by Kenny Rogers. It's an example of how many country artists during this time period were able to have crossover success into the pop genre.
  • What's Love Got To Do With It

    What's Love Got To Do With It
    Tina Turner recorded this song. It's an example of a strong social message included in popular music and a female rock artist.
  • Jump

    Van Halen recorded this song in 1984. It was remarkable becuase the main melody is produced by a synthesizer rather than instruments.
  • Like A Virgin

    Like A Virgin
    This song was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, and then performed and recorded by Madonna. There is a distinct contrast between softer vocal tones and rougher rock vocals.
  • Walk This Way

    This song was recorded by Run DMC and Perry and Tyler from Aerosmith. It's an example of the collaboration between rock and hip hop that was common in the 1980s.

    This song was written and recorded by Queen Latifah. There are a variety of influences present in this song, including reggae and rock.
  • "Leave the Night On"

    "Leave the Night On"
    Sam Hunt's first huge hit was a crossover success on pop and country radio in the summer of 2014. This song is significant in that it makes use of electronic sounds and is upbeat, like much current popular music.
  • Cheerleader

    This song by Jamaican artist OMI is number one on the Billboard charts. It shows the international influenced on popular American music.
  • Are You What You Want To Be?

    This song is by the group Foster the People. It shows how alternative music has become very popular.
  • Stay

    This pop song is performed by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko. It shows the different messages that are now prominent in pop music.
  • Really Don't Care

    Really Don't Care
    This song is by Demi Lovato and Cher Lloyd. It is currently popular and shows the state of current pop music.
  • ***Flawless

    This song is performed by Beyonce. Its confident message showcases how social issues are often a part of current popular music.