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Roots in Popular Music Timeline

  • Thomas Dartmouth Rice sings "Jim Crow" for the first time

    Thomas Dartmouth Rice sings "Jim Crow" for the first time
    Rice's song became the first internationa American song hit. Rice sang this while doing a "cakewalk", an imitation of African American dancing. The dance became associated with music using syncapation, which became an important aspect of ragtime.
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    The Minstrel Show

    First distinctively American music and entertainment. White performers blackened their faces to parody African American music, dance, dress, and dialect.
  • Virginia Minstrels' first appearence

    Virginia Minstrels' first appearence
    Was the first classic minstrel show, with various sketches, songs, and characters.
  • Stephen Foster's "Oh! Susanna" is released

    Stephen Foster's "Oh! Susanna" is released
    Stephan Foster is known as the most influential American songwriter of the 19th century. He combined simple melody and text to create what are now termed "hooks" to a song.
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    Brass Band Popularity

    Military bands made up of brass instruments boomed during the civil war. After the war, the brass band movement fed off American patriotism; they were used to rally citizens during conflict. Today, brass bands are generally associated with national holidays.
  • Phonograph invented

    Phonograph invented
    Thomas Edison invented the phonograph, which, in following decades, replaced the method of learned sheet music to spread music.
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    Tin Pan Alley Era

    A group of new music publishing firms in lower Manhattan. The sounds of pianos banging out new tunes from the Manhattan buildings earned the area its iconic title. The forms, themes, and performance styles created by Tin Pan Alley continue to influence American music
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    Run Around Ragtime

  • John Phillip Sousa Composes "Stars and Stripes Forever"

    John Phillip Sousa Composes "Stars and Stripes Forever"
    Sousa was known as America's "March King", and his march "Stars and Stripes Forever" became the nation's official march song. Sousa's band of over 50 members toured constantly, bringing in huge crowds.
  • "Maple Leaf Rag" released

    "Maple Leaf Rag" released
    Scott Joplin, the King of Ragtime, wrote his first successful piece, "Maple Leaf Rag". Joplin used syncapated rhythms against a regular base part. This style is typical of "classic" rag.
  • Victor Company releases Enrico Caruso record

    Victor Company releases Enrico Caruso record
    The record's popularity indicated the commercial possibilities for sound recordings.
  • High Sheet Music Sales

    High Sheet Music Sales
    Sheet music sales reach an all time high with 30 million copies sold in 1910.
  • James Reese Europe composes music for he Castles' "new" dance steps.

    James Reese Europe composes music for he Castles' "new" dance steps.
    Europe is hired to create a syncopated sound necessary for the dancers' new ragtime dances.
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    Jazz Extraveganza

    Brass bands applied the syncopation of ragtime and the soul of blues to create jazz. It was based off improvisation and self-expression.
  • ASCAP wins Supreme Court Case

    ASCAP wins Supreme Court Case
    The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers won the court case that forced businesses to pay royalities on music they used.
  • "Great Migration" to northern cities begins

    "Great Migration" to northern cities begins
    Influences record companies to try and appeal to their audience with southern traditions.
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    Record Companies Reach Out to New Audiences

    A great migration of southerners to cities such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, and Nashville, gets the industry intune with folk traditions of the American South.
  • The Original Dixieland Jazz Band records "Tiger Rag"

    The Original Dixieland Jazz Band records "Tiger Rag"
    "Tiger Rag" displays the basic features of jazz. The ODJB helped commercialize jazz, but there is controversy about how close they are to the original, black jazz bands (i.e. King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band)
  • "Mary" by George Stoddard

    "Mary" by George Stoddard
    "Mary" is the first song to become popular in its recorded form, before its sheet music is released.
  • Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues" sparks enthusiasm for the blues

    Mamie Smith's "Crazy Blues" sparks enthusiasm for the blues
  • Louis Armstrong joins Fletcher Henderson's Band

    Louis Armstrong joins Fletcher Henderson's Band
    He pushed the band to a more improvised style and towards the combination of jazz and ballroom, which would later become swing.
  • Electric Recording

    Electric Recording
    Electric recording uses a microphone and allows musicians to emphasize certain sounds, like voice, over stronger instruments. Previously, acoustic recording made it much harder to manipulate desired sounds.
  • Bessie Smith's "St. Louis Blues"

    Bessie Smith's "St. Louis Blues"
    Bessie Smith's version of "St. Louis Blues" helped expose the blues to whites and blacks alike. Today, the song would not be considered "authentic" blues, but the more mainstream sound helped popularize blues.
  • NBC established

    NBC established
    NBC becomes the first nationwide commercial radio station.
  • Blind Lemon Jefferson releases his first record

    Blind Lemon Jefferson releases his first record
    Jefferson was the first recording star of country blues. Due to racism, he was denied any profits from his records.
  • Sound Film introduced

    Sound Film introduced
    "The Jazz Singer" popularizes sound film, which becomes an important method of spreading music.
  • Race Record Sales

    Race Record Sales
    By 1927, 500 race records were being released annualy.
  • The Carter Family career takes off

    The Carter Family career takes off
    The Carter's used folk music and influenced the country music industry greatly.
  • High phonograph sales

    High phonograph sales
    106 million phonograph discs sold nationwide.
  • Charley Patton Records

    Charley Patton Records
    Charley Patton starts putting out records in the style of Mississippi Delta Blues-- authentic blues.
  • The Great Depression hits

    The Great Depression hits
    Leads to decreased record sales and an increased radio audience.
  • Period: to

    The Great Depression

    Terrible economy leads to plummetting record sales, but increased radio audience.
  • Dying phonograph sales

    Dying phonograph sales
    Due to the Great Depression, phonograph sales dropped to 6 million discs in 1932, compared to the 106 million sold just five years before.
  • Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra inspires the rise of swing

    Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra inspires the rise of swing
    Henderson's band released their recording "Wrappin' It Up" in 1934. The band was bigger than former dance bands and created a smoother, less improvised sound than jazz.
  • Benny Goodman's band makes their big break

    Benny Goodman's band makes their big break
    Goodman's band initiated Swing music, attracting mass audiences to the hot, syncopated sounds. Goodman also broke racial barriers by hiring African-American musicians.
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    The Swing Era

    Swing is a jazz influenced music, encompassing a new big band sound, but also the spirit of freedom and vitality. The new style appealed to diverse audiences, and lifted the record industry out of economic trouble.
  • "Your Hit Parade" radio show introduced

    "Your Hit Parade" radio show introduced
    Radio was the primary means of spreading Swing music. "Your Hit Parade" was the first Top 10 radio show, inspiring today's Top 40 shows and MTV.
  • Gibson releases its first electric guitar

    Gibson releases its first electric guitar
  • Nat King Cole makes his first recording

    Nat King Cole makes his first recording
    Cole became the most successful black recording artist in the post war era. His success is comparable to Jackie Robinson, considering the prejudice of the time. He was big in jazz and swing, and also gained a lot of popularity in crooning. He was a masterful piano improviser.
  • Roy Acuff joins WSM's "Grand Old Opry"

    Roy Acuff joins WSM's "Grand Old Opry"
    Acuff was the most popular hillbilly singer of the swing era. He was a traditionalist; his band used a fiddle, banjo, and guitar.
  • First FM radio broadcast

    First FM radio broadcast
    FM uses higher frequencies, produces better sound, and is not as prone to electrical disturbances like lightning. Today, FM radio dominates music radio stations.
  • Duke Ellington records "Ko-ko"

    Duke Ellington records "Ko-ko"
    "Ko-ko" is a jazz arrangement influenced by the blues form. Ellington is the best composer of ALL TIMES, so this is important. Ellington also created a style of music called "jungle music", using "dense texture, unusual harmonies, and muted, growling sounds" (134). This style made Ellington's band unique, but also reenforced black stereotypes.
  • Sinatra makes his first solo recording

    Sinatra makes his first solo recording
    Sinatra, with his handsome crooning act, attracted the first rush of recorded pop hysteria. Sinatra had a great buiness sense, and became popular with tons of media exposure, as well as his own stamina.
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    The Postwar Era

    An era under-estimated musically. The new booming economy boosted the music industry, and the fearful post-war atmosphere made popular music with romantic sentiments a public desire.
  • Evelyn Knight covers "A Little Birdie Told Me"

    Evelyn Knight covers "A Little Birdie Told Me"
    Knights cover broke open the door of covers, which mostly harmed black musicians, whose music was constantly taken and popularized by white musicians.
  • Record Survey

    Record Survey
    Survey of record retailers shows that 1/3 of the USA record buying population is made up of people under 21.
  • Two-track Recorder introduced

    Two-track Recorder introduced
    It could record simultaneous inputs from two microphones and thus produce stereo effects. Les Paul created the first multitrack recordings on tape.
  • Damaso Perez Prado

    Damaso Perez Prado
    Prado helped popularize the mambo in Latin America and in the USA, especially with his 1949 record, "Mambo No.5".
  • "R&B"/ "Country and Western" replaces "Race" and "Hillbilly"

    "R&B"/ "Country and Western" replaces "Race" and "Hillbilly"
    Billboard replaces their politically incorrect terms. Despite the name changes though, the industry still directed R&B primarily to blacks
  • Top 40 Radio

    Top 40 Radio
    Nebraskan disc jockey, Todd Storz develops Top 40 Radio Programming after observing that teenagers played the same songs repeatedly on jukeboxes.
  • Country music accounts for 1/3 Record Sales

    Country music accounts for 1/3 Record Sales
    Possible effected by Capital Records setting up its country music operation in Nashville
  • The Dominoes' "60 Minute Man"

    The Dominoes' "60 Minute Man"
    This popular R&B song describing the singer's lovemaking techniques was one of the first R&B vocal-group records to cross over to the pop charts.
  • Alan Freed coins the term "Rock n Roll"

    Alan Freed coins the term "Rock n Roll"
    When Freed moved to a station in New York he took the phrase "rock n roll" to identify the music he played, and the generation her played for.
  • Little Richard releases "Tutti Frutti"

    Little Richard releases "Tutti Frutti"
    Little Richard is known for his eccentricity. He used the 12 bar blues form and was influential with his performance and and musical style.
  • Elvis Presley releases "Don't Be Cruel"

    Elvis Presley releases "Don't Be Cruel"
    "Don't Be Cruel" topped the charts for eleven weeks. Elvis is known for his country inflections, hiccuping, and of course, gettin' all the ladies.
  • James Brown releases his first record "Please Please Please"

    James Brown releases his first record "Please Please Please"
    Brown, the "King of Soul", had the most influence on the sound and style of black music. He had a repetitive, instrumental style and also uses polyrhythms, linking with African music styles.
  • Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" released

    Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" released
    Chuck Berry was a brilliant lyricist and songwriter, vocal artist, and electric guitarist. He is one of the most influential musicians in history.
  • Berry Gordy creates Motown Records

    Berry Gordy creates Motown Records
    Berry Gordy created the producing/marketing/songwriting organization completely run by and for African Americans. It was a huge success.Gordy trained his artists to be charismatic performers.
  • Chubby Checker releases his cover of "The Twist"

    Chubby Checker releases his cover of "The Twist"
    The song's dance attracted audiences of all ages, and in turn brought rock n' roll music to a broader audience.
  • Phil Spector's "wall of sound"

    Phil Spector's "wall of sound"
    By the early 1960s Spector had established himself as a songwriter-producer. He was young, meticulous, and ambitious. His style was so distinctive and dense, it became known as the "wall of sound". He played a major role in establishing the importance of a producer.
  • Ray Charles achieves his first Number One hit: "Georgia on my Mind"

    Ray Charles achieves his first Number One hit: "Georgia on my Mind"
    This is just one of Charles' many musical achievments. He was a masterful songwriter, jazz musician, R&B musician, and especially vocalist. You cannot really categorize Ray Charles because of his huge impact on so many musical fronts.
  • The Beach Boys release "I Get Around"

    The Beach Boys release "I Get Around"
    The Beach Boys, led by Brian Wilson, show off their experimental style, with unique chord changes and phrase structures. Even so, they kept their music accessible, and "I Get Around" was their first Number one record. Their music influenced the beatles.
  • Beatle's Come To America

    Beatle's Come To America
    The Beatles make their American debut on the Ed Sullivan show. Mass hysteria ensued. Throughout the band's career, they used influences from American Rock n' roll and world music, while consistently creating their own style. Their American appearance also spurred on the famous British Invasion.
  • Bob Dylan brings an electric band to Newport Folk Festival

    Bob Dylan brings an electric band to Newport Folk Festival
    Dylon brought urban folk music into the modern era of rock. While he did break barriers in folk music, he stayed true to the style with poetic content. He wrote political and serious songs; his lacking vocal abilty allows the audience to pay more attention to lyrics. He gave a more mature feel to rock n' roll.
  • Beach Boys release "Pet Sounds"

    Beach Boys release "Pet Sounds"
    Arguably rock's first concept album, an album considered as an integrated whole.
  • Aretha Franklin makes it as a pop star

    Aretha Franklin makes it as a pop star
    She had a major impact on soul. He gospel influence, powerful voice, and piano playing, made her a star. She also embodied female empowerment, through her powerful style and songs like "Respect"
  • Jimi Hendrix stuns the crowd at Monterey Pop Festival

    Jimi Hendrix stuns the crowd at Monterey Pop Festival
    Hendrix lit his guitar on fire. He was known for his wild stage antics and creative use of guitar feedback and distortion. His techniques ade major headway in the choices a guitarist had.
  • End of Counterculture

    End of Counterculture
    The end of the counterculture is marked by the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and jim Morrison (1971), as well as the break-up of the beatles (1971).
  • Dolly Parton vs. Olivia Newton John

    Dolly Parton vs. Olivia Newton John
    Dolly Parton, a true blue country singer, represents the opposite side of country from Olivia Newton John, who had multiple country hits, but ultimately ended up in the pop genre.
  • Led Zepplin tours the USA

    Led Zepplin tours the USA
    Led Zepplin's focus on live performance represents a new trend in the 70s. Music became largely about the experience of seeing a band live. This involved lights, costumes, and sometimes even story lines.
  • David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust

    David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust
    David Bowie created the most famous fictitious character for an album ("The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars"). He was a pioneer of glam rock as well-- which was largely based on costumes.
  • Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" released

    Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" released
    Later popularized by Eric Clapton. Helped bring reggae into US consciousness (although it really took foot a year prior with the movie "The Harder They Come").
  • The Grand Ole Opry moves

    The Grand Ole Opry moves
    The Opry moves from run down Nashville theatre to a multi-million dollar facility. It represents how country broadened its audience in the 70s by reaching out to younger generations, while still emphasizing their original country traditions and working class audience.
  • Sex Pistols form

    Sex Pistols form
    Scared british middle-class, meant to "subvert the pop music industry"
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    The Disco Era

    Disco was an alternative to rock. It focused largely on dancing, and more so the producers than the bands.
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    Punk rock "back to basics" rebellion

    A period of rebellion against mainstream rock.
  • Parliament releases "Mothership Connection"

    Parliament releases "Mothership Connection"
    Funk brought music back to the fundamental desire to dance. Parliament used syncopated electric bass lines, interlocking rhythms, a strong pulse, and call and response.
  • First synthesizers introduced

    First synthesizers introduced
    While these initial synthesizers were limiting, they led the way to a new distinctive sound, now associated with the 80s.
  • Michael Jackson's "Thriller" released

    Michael Jackson's "Thriller" released
    Forces MTV to start airing black musicians. Jackson's video was a game changer in the music video production/promotion world.
  • "Born in the USA" released by Bruce Springsteen

    "Born in the USA" released by Bruce Springsteen
    Springteen combined the spirit of rebellious rock n' roll with socially conscious folk rock. His song "Born in the USA" is still misinterpretated as patriotic (they play it a lot at the 4th of July fireworks in my area)...
  • Madonna releases "Like a Virgin"

    Madonna releases "Like a Virgin"
    Madonna's songs pushed sexual and gender boundaries. She exerted a lot of control over her music, and started writing more serious lyrics in the second half of the 80s.
  • Run DMC releases "Raising Hell"

    Run DMC releases "Raising Hell"
    The band is possibly the most influential in rap music history. They used powerful beats and rhymes that flowed together flawlessly. Rap began to appeal to young white audiences at this time, allowing the genre to move forward commercially.
  • Nirvana releases "Nevermind"

    Nirvana releases "Nevermind"
    Nirvana displaced Michael Jackson in the charts with this album. They brought alternative rock to the forefront of America's attention.