Music, Theatre, and Film Trends in America

  • Puritan Music

    Puritan Music
    Puritan music was very much based on hymns and songs about Church and God. In the late sixteenth century, a new psalm book called The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Meter was published andrearranged the words of the psalms to more aesthetically pleasing tunes.With this new psalm book came a new method of singing, called singing by note, which called for a lead singer and familiar melodies, both of which made the practice of singining congregational
  • Colonial Music

    Colonial Music
    Colonial Music unlike the Puritans was folk based and was brought over from Europe.
  • "Why, Soldiers, Why?" Manuscript

    "Why, Soldiers, Why?" Manuscript
    "Why, Soldiers, Why?" also known as "Wolfe's Song" was one of the most popular war songs of the French and Indian War in Colonial America. Historians dispute on the original composer and date of composition, but a manuscript recovered by Thomas Jefferson carries the earliest evidence of its conception: the year 1710. Listen here:
  • Colonial Theatrics

    Colonial Theatrics
    Williamsburg, Virginia. William Dunlap brings first theater troupe to the colonies. The first performance was Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
  • Yankee Doodle

    Yankee Doodle
    Song sung during the American Revolution by British Red Coats and Loyalists. The song was meant to poke fun at the patriots who were called yankees. Listen to it here:
  • America's Oldest Theater

    America's Oldest Theater
    The Walnut Theatre in Philaadelphia opened its doors on Febuary 2nd 1809.Walnut Street Theatre is home to many firsts in the American theater scene. In 1837, the Walnut was the first theatre to install gas footlights, and in 1855, the Walnut became the first theatre to install air conditioning. The first copyright law protecting American plays had its roots at the Walnut. The curtain call, now a tradition in every theatre, started at the Walnut Theater.
  • The Star Spangled Banner

    The Star Spangled Banner
    Our National Anthem! While captured on a British Fleet in Chesapeake Bay, Francis Scott Key watched the shelling of Fort McHenry. In the morning, Key was so happy to see the American flag still flying over the fort that he began a poem to commemorate the occasion. First published under the title “Defense of Fort M'Henry,” the poem soon attained wide popularity as sung to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven.” “The Star-Spangled Banner” was officially made the national anthem by Congress in 1931.
  • Minstrel Shows Reach High-End Theatres

    Minstrel Shows Reach High-End Theatres
    Minstrel shows - degrading portrayals of African people - were a large source of entertainment for much of the 19th century. In fact, such shows began in the 1600s, and were even performed under certain circumstances into the 1950s and 1960s in America. In 1841, minstrel shows moved into massive theatres for audiences of hundreds...all people excited for a night of racist "comedy." The infamous "Jim Crow Laws" are named for one goofy, ridiculous character in these shows.
  • When Johnny Comes Marching Home

    When Johnny Comes Marching Home
    A popular civil war song of the Civil War that expressed people's longing for the return of their friends and relatives who were fighting in the war. Written by Louis Lambert
    Listen to it here:
  • Assassination at the Fords Theatre

    Assassination at the Fords Theatre
    Lincoln was shot while watching the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln by well known actor John Wilkes Booth. He died the next morning.
  • "Home on the Range" Inspired by Poem

    "Home on the Range" Inspired by Poem
    The poem "My Western Home" is published in a local Kansas newspaper. Over the next forty years the words and name of the poem would change many times, leading to the Western anthem known today as "Home on the Range." Today, it is widely perceived as a staple of Western music and patriotic music, and the state song of Kansas. Listen to this song, performed twice, here:
  • Vaudeville Shows become popular

    Vaudeville Shows become popular
    Vaudeville is a type of theatrical genre that has many acts. Acts may include music, dance, acrobats, one act shows, and burlesque. They were called "the heart of American show business"
  • Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show Debuts

    Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show Debuts
    William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody starts his famous WIld West Show in Omaha, Nebraska. The former Pony Express rider ad been an actor for some time, and formed his own theatrical troop. Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show is considered the first true Wild West Show, and would last from 1883 to 1913.
  • Ringling Brother's Circus founded

    Ringling Brother's Circus founded
    In Baraboo, Wisconsin. Promoted as the "Greatest Show on Earth" These shows appealed to the middle and lower class.
  • The Lumiere Brothers Invent the Cinematographe

    The Lumiere Brothers Invent the Cinematographe
    Though others at the time develpoed similar products, the Lumiere brothers are credited with the invention of the modern cinema. Patenting a device they called the "cinematographe," they would shape the history of entertainment as we know it. The first device to show moving pictures was William Lincoln's "zoopraxiscope," which came about in 1867, but this invention is a far cry from modern film. Thus, Louis and Auguste Lumiere get credit for the first motion picture camera.
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    Ragtime Sweeps the Nation

    Ragtime is thought to have begun its peak in popularity in the United States in 1897, and ended in 1918. The popular musical genre, often described as a mixture of jazz and blues, would remain popular for decades, even as dance music. Because of its ease to play, in part, it was heard very often in homes and at parties; ragtime pieces can be played by entire orchestras or a single person on a piano! Listen to John Zadro's Ragtime Medley here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsjr4ORnxrU
  • Scott Joplin Publishes "Maple Leaf Rag"

    Scott Joplin Publishes "Maple Leaf Rag"
    Scott Joplin, one of the most popular American composers for Ragtime, publishes his hit maple leaf rag. It is one of the most famous ragtime pieces and was the first instrumental piece to sell over 1 million copies of sheet music. Listen to it here:
  • Iconic Trumpeter is Born

    Iconic Trumpeter is Born
    On August 4, 1901, Louis Armstrong was born. One of the most important musicians in the history of American music, this man would grow to wield a brass weapon of unimaginable power: the trumpet. His music had and continues to have more influence on daily life than some of America's big legislation. Today, his stylings are present in almost every genre of music found in America. Listen to ouis Armstrong performing the famous "Basin Street Blues" here:
  • "The Great Train Robbery" is Filmed

    "The Great Train Robbery" is Filmed
    Edwin S. Porter's famous film "The Great Train Robbery" is one of history's most recognizable silent films. A former cameraman for Thomas Edison, Porter filmed this film's nearly ten minute reel in New Jersey. Many believe that this is where the Western genre truly began; unlike some of the classics that would follow, "The Great Train Robbery" was based off of true events. Watch this iconic film here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRBi08Z00Ec
  • Ziegfeld Follies

    Ziegfeld Follies
    Ziegfeld follies was an elaborate series of theatre productions on Broadway.These shows showcased famous people of this time including W.C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Baker, Fanny Brice, Bert Williams, Will Rogers, , Marilyn Miller, Ed Wynn, Gilda Gray, and many more! The Ziegfeld Follies were also famous for hiring many beautiful chorus girls commonly known as Ziegfeld girls.
  • "He and She": Women Steal the Stage

    "He and She": Women Steal the Stage
    One of the more famous "battle of the sexes" stage peices, Rachel Crothers's "He and She" was written in early 1911. Her strong characterization and subtle comedic flir lent this play a pleasing but informative front, possibly partly inspired by the recent successes of women in America. Victories in women's suffrage, new professionalism, and social changes helped to further dissolve the dependance women of the period had on men.
  • Jerome Kern and Geroge Gershwin

    Jerome Kern and Geroge Gershwin
    In the early 20th century, these two transformed Broadway (earlier known as tin pan alley) and were successful in creating popular songs and musicals.
  • Song "Over There" becomes popular

    Song "Over There" becomes popular
    The song "Over There" written by George M. Cohan . This song is about the United States entering WW1. You can listen to it here:
  • Lee DeForest Patents "Sound on Film"

    Lee DeForest Patents "Sound on Film"
    Lee DeForestpatents aprincipal invention for recording sound on the edge of a film strip. He is credited with the invention of Phonofilm, as he was the first inventor to patent this type of device.
  • Harlem Renaissance

    Harlem Renaissance
    The Harlem Renaissance was a celebration of African-American heritage expressed through an outpouring of art, literature, music and dance.
  • Eugene O'Neill Produces "Strange Interlude"

    Eugene O'Neill Produces "Strange Interlude"
    Eugene O'Neill writes and produces "Strange Intelude," an experimental play which uses Freudian imagery to counter typical American beliefs. This characteristic led the controversial play to be banned by many theatres in New York, as it originally premiered on Broadway.
  • Mickey Mouse Appears in "Steamboat Willie"

    Mickey Mouse Appears in "Steamboat Willie"
    Today's beloved character Mickey Mouse first appeared in America's first cartoon with sound: Steamboat Willie. Also appearing are Captain Pete and the then-unnamed Donald Duck in this short film, which was both voiced and produced by Walt Disney. Watch here! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REbZO82tkgw
  • Radio City Music Hall Opens!

    Radio City Music Hall Opens!
    Featuring the World Famous Rockettes, the Music Hall located in Rockefeller Center is considered the "World's Showplace"
  • "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" Premieres

    "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" Premieres
    The iconic Snow White made her debut at the Carthay Circle Theater. It was the first cel-animated feature in motion picture history, as well as the first animated color feature film produced in America, the first to be produced by Walt Disney, and the first in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. The movie was recently named greatest animated film in history!
  • The Wizard of Oz

    The Wizard of Oz
    The film that went from sepia to technicolor! Originally a box office failure, this film won three Academy Awards. Trailer Here:
  • "Stagecoach" is Released

    "Stagecoach" is Released
    John Wayne breaks into the film industry with "Stagecoach," the movie that reopened the doors to the Western genre in America. Wayne's protrayal of "The Ringo Kid" returned the love of the frontier's sense of adventure to Americans int he rest of the nation.
  • Civil War Epic Gone With The Wind Released in Theatres

    Civil War Epic Gone With The Wind Released in Theatres
    Margaret Mithchell's novel adapted for the silver screen directed by Victor Fleming and starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable as Scarlet O'Hara and Rhett Butler
    You can watch the trailer here:
    And the famous "Quite Frankly My Dear" scene here:
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    American Muscial Revolution!

    After the upheaval of the second World War, Americans approach musical culture different. Genres of music take on a lot of firepower as picking one's favorites becomes a ritual to be defedned agiants friends and family with conflicting interests! The rise of Rock n' Roll, Country, A Cappella, Pop, Folk, and Gospel revivals brings about big names such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, the Four Aces, Elivs Presley, the Foggy Mountain Boys, Buck Owens, Pete Seeger, and Frank Lymon & the Teenagers.
  • War Production Board Limits Theatre Lighting

    War Production Board Limits Theatre Lighting
    The War Production Board discloses a mandate, which requires all American theatres to dim their marquee lights at exactly 10:00 PM, in order to conserve energy during World War II.
  • Elvis Presley's Self-Titled Album Debuts

    Elvis Presley's Self-Titled Album Debuts
    Elvis Presley rocks America with "Elvis Presley" (shocker), the first rock n' roll album to make it to the top of the Billboard Top Pop charts. In fact, it spent 10 weeks at number one with its iconic tracks like his cover of "Blue Suede Shoes" and Tutti Frutti. Listen to "Blue Suede Shoes" here:
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    Baby Boomers Celebrate Rock

    The post-World War II birthrate leap caused a population explosion of diverse, creative individuals. In the 1960s, the teenaged Baby Boomers make their love of Rock n' Roll known by blasting the loud music at every opportunity and hosting more teenage ocial gatherings than ever before!
  • The World's First Multiplex Opens

    The World's First Multiplex Opens
    Stanley H. Durwood revolutionizes film histroy in America when he opens the first multiplex built into a mall. He later develops four- and six-plexes, and will eventually head the AMC Entertainment, Inc., the parent corporation of AMC Theaters that are very popular today.
  • Bob Dylan's Music Reflects National Attitudes

    Bob Dylan's Music Reflects National Attitudes
    Bob Dylan's passionate songs take on foreboding meaning in light, or rather shadow, of inmending nuclear disaster. His songs "Masters of War" and "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" reflect a national fear of nuclear war. The latter, eerily enough, was released right before the infamous Cuban MIssile Crisis. Listen to "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fal" here:
  • Broadway Classics Appear

    Broadway Classics Appear
    Several of today's celebrated iconic productions are produced and debuted in the 1960s, such as "Fiddler on the Roof" (1964), "Hello Dolly" (1964), and Cabaret (1966).
  • The British Invasion

    The British Invasion
    The British Invasion is a term used to describe the large number of rock and roll, beat, rock and pop performers from the United Kingdom who became popular in the United States during the period from 1964 through 1966.
  • Psychedelic Rock Develops in San Francisco

    Psychedelic Rock Develops in San Francisco
    Psychedelic Rock (sometimes Acid Rock), influenced by the psychedelic effects of some halluicenagenic drugs, grows and expands from San Francisco to other Californian cities. Popular musical stylings of this genre include "Day Tripper" by the Beatles and "The Crystal Ship" by The Doors. Listen here:
  • MPAA Established

    MPAA Established
    The motion picture rating association of america started to rate movies in order to categorize the appropriatness of a film. The ratings were establishe as G, PG, R, and X. This was the first time films had to be submited for rating before release in theaters.
  • Woodstock Music Festival

    Woodstock Music Festival
    Featured many artist such as Jimi Hendrix, andThe Who. The 3 day festival of peace, love, happiness and music attracted thousands of fans and is seen as one of the most popular concert in history.