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The Beginnings of American Popular Music

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1 The Beginnings of American Popular Music
Chapter 2 The Beginnings of American Popular Music

2 Sources of Popular Music
African Influences No hard evidence of music of slaves in the U.S. during the early 19th century. Comparing field recordings of African folk musicians to musicians of African descent living in New World show strong connections: Cubans singing in old Yoruba (Nigeria) dialect and Mississippi bluesman sounding like one from Senegal.

3 African Roots “Song for Odudua”
Prominent percussion Complex rhythms – constant syncopations Call and Response – exchange between leader and group Melody built on African pentatonic scale Syncopation: accents that come between the beats of a regular rhythm rather than with them.

4 From Senegal to Mississippi
“Louisiana”/Field Song Similarity in vocal styling between Henry Ratcliff, a Mississippi prison inmate, with a fieldworker in Senegal Vocal timbre: basic sound and inflection of the voice Melodic shape Rhythmic Freedom Melody built on pentatonic scale Use of melismas: several notes sung to a single syllable

5 Reconstructing a Heritage
During the 20th Century, we hear prominent African- derived musical features in pop music Yoruba chorus/”Ladies Night” Dense, syncopated rhythms Melismas in vocals Layered texture made up of voice, percussion, and pitched instruments

6 Reconstructing a Heritage, cont.
Popular Music musical traits derived from African roots: Unvarying beat or other regular rhythm Several layers of rhythmic activity/syncopation/rhythmic conflict Percussion instruments and percussive techniques Riff-like melodic ideas Layered textures

7 Folk Music from the British Isles
Folk Song from the British Isles “Barbara Allen” (1936) Ballad: simple song with a lyric that tells a story Simple four-phrase melody Anglo-American pentatonic scale Strophic: different words sung to same melody Important points: storytelling song, telling a “real” story, strophic form (leads to verse/chorus form), unpolished but effective vocal style.

8 Folk Music from the British Isles, cont.
Anglo-American Folk Dance “Old Joe Clark” (1927) Down-home, good-humored Story told in everyday language Melody set to danceable beat Rough, untrained singing voice Verse/chorus form

9 Folk Music from the British Isles, cont.
Upper- and Middle-Class European Music “Casta Diva” from Norma (1831) Aria from an opera Simple arpeggiated accompaniment Florid, wide-ranging vocals “Woodsman, Spare That Tree” (1837) Simpler than “Casta Diva”, but unfolds similarly Style leads to use of chords/chord progressions, melody/accompaniment texture, form in which phrases coalesce into larger formal units Many of the instruments will be used in pop music: piano, several wind/brass instruments, violins, acoustic bass

10 American Popular Music: From Sources to Synthesis
Differences between African and European: URBAN EUROPEAN: Chord instrument (piano) is only instrument Chordal harmony Long, flowing melodies Gentle rhythmic beat keeping, no syncopation WEST AFRICAN: Several percussion instruments (including handclaps); also plucked instruments No chords Short melodic phrases ending in long notes Strong rhythmic feel Prevalent syncopation in drum parts

11 Popular Song in the Mid-19th Century
Stephen Foster and the Parlor Song The Early Minstrel Show Social Acceptance and Synthesis

12 Stephen Foster and the Parlor Song
Parlor song: resemble art songs of classical music, but more modest in their expressive range and musical requirements Told sentimental stories, set to simple melodies with modest accompaniment Meant to be played in the “parlor” of the home.

13 Stephen Foster and the Parlor Song, cont.
Most important songwriter in the 19th century American popular music Versitile and skillful, his songs were well-written and often inspiring and innovative “Oh, Susanna!”, “Camptown Ladies”, “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”

14 Stephen Foster and the Parlor Song, cont.
“Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” Style: Parlor Song Form: AA1BA2 Long flowing lines, ending in clearly punctuated phrases Sentimental text Songs for home use Irish connection – British Isles – pentatonic scale Beautiful melody

15 The Early Minstrel Show
Def.: A form of stage entertainment distinguished by cruel parodies of African Americans. Early 1840’s to end of 19th century. Lacked consistent form and evolved quickly. Crowds were often rowdy (rock concerts/soccer-match hooligans) Loosely structured: At least three minstrels: the interlocutor and two endmen, “Tambo and Bones” (one played tambourine, one played bones) Troupe sat in semicircle with interlocutor in middle and endmen at either side. No plot or storyline, though there were stock routines and characters Interlocutor spoke with proper diction, rich vocabulary Endmen spoke in caricature of African American speech. Interlocutor controlled the pace of show. Grew out of blackface entertainment of late 1820’s and 1830’s. Two stock characters: city slicker Zip Coon and country bumpkin Jim Crow

16 The Early Minstrel Show, cont.
Show evolved into three parts: Highly ritualized material w/pop parlor songs Olio: (from Sp “olla” for stew) variety portion w/wide range of acts from novelty acts to burlesques (humorous parodies) of cultured material (Shakespeare, etc.) Walkaround: entire troupe in grand finale of song and dance

17 The Early Minstrel Show, cont.
“De Boatmen’s Dance” (1843) Dan Emmett Written for Virginia Minstrels show in 1843 Similar to “Old Joe Clark” Unison: more than one voice or instrument playing the same melodic part

18 The Early Minstrel Show, cont.
Black Faces and Black Sounds Bones and tambourine formed proto “rhythm section” Song “Zip Coon” became the fiddle tune “Turkey in the Straw” Majority of minstrel performers had only incidental contact with the African Americans whom they supposedly portrayed After Civil War, white minstrels “did not capture the quality of African American music making…show evolved away from traditional minstrelsy”

19 Routes to Popularity: Written and Oral Traditions
In mid 19th century, two outlets for minstrel show songs were sheet music and live performance Many of the melodies were so simple, audience members could simply remember them To take advantage of this, publishers put out songters: books with just the lyrics to popular songs of the day “Camptown Ladies” : original sheet music vs. contemporary version

20 Social Acceptance and Synthesis
Most “respectable” people felt minstrel show to be low- class entertainment, though some still went Foster created new genre – “plantation song” – brought sentimentality of middle-class song into rough world of minstrel show and ended up with a more human portrayal of blacks.

21 Popular Entertainment after the Civil War
Tin Pan Alley Area of New York City where music publishing house song pluggers, house pianists playing pieces for pro singers or possible customers, could be heard In 1890, Gussie Davis – first black songwriter to achieve songwriting success in Tin Pan Alley “After the Ball” (1892) first big Tin Pan Alley hit – sold more than 5 million sheet music copies.

22 Popular Entertainment after the Civil War, cont.
Waltz songs: songs popular around 1900 in which a flowing melody is supported by a simple, waltz-time accompaniment “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (1908) Waltz time = OOM-pah-pah

23 Popular Entertainment after the Civil War, cont.
Stage Entertaiment Vaudeville: variety show. Singers, dancers, comics, acrobats, magicians, jullgers, etc. No dramatic unity Operetta: Originally a kind of European musical drama that was less serious than opera, with more speech instead of singing between songs, but with more dramatic integrity than musical comedy. Generally a fariy-tale type story. Show Boat began American operetta tradition.

24 Popular Entertainment after the Civil War, cont.
Revue: topical, upbeat, aimed at the masses, full of comedy, song, and dance Interpolation: plot of musical comedy was adapted to include a currently popular song Patriotic Songs: “Yankee Doodle Boy”, George M. Cohan (1904) Energy of a march, vigorous melody, hint of syncopation, clever lyrics without trace of sentimentality

25 The Concert Band Instrumental ensemble
In an era w/out TV, radio, etc., touring bands and municipal bands were found in almost every town Primary source of musical entertainment Broad range of music – from classical to current pop songs and marches JOHN PHILIP SOUSA ( ) Gave over 10,000 concerts in U.S. and Europe. composed 136 marches, 15 operettas, 70 songs and many other pieces “The Stars and Stripes Forever” (1897)

26 Looking Back, Looking Ahead
The infusion of rhythm into pop music Dance rhythms innovation of minstrel show music; by end of century in almost all kinds of music Impact of “low-brow” styles Impetus for change comes from more marginalized segments of American society: rural folk traditions, white and black, at mid-century, then African American traditions at end of century Innovation through synthesis Innovation mainly a matter of integrating diverse, even contradictory, musical elements into a new sound: the minstrel show song and Foster’s plantation songs evidence this trend. Increased role of blacks Presence of African Americans in pop music industry (post Civil War) continues during later part of 19th century. Blacks being breaking into genres other than minstrelsy around 1900

27 Terms to Know Call and response Unison Melisma Songster Ballad
Song plugger Strophic Tin Pan Alley Parlor song Waltz song Minstrel show Vaudeville Interlocutor Operetta Tambo and Bones Revue Endmen Interpolation Olio Patriotic song Burlesque Concert band Walkaround March trio Cakewalk

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