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American Music. Special thanks to the library of congress for the images used in this presentation.

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american music

American Music

Special thanks to the library of congress for the images used in this presentation

American folk music evolved from English ballads, to field hollers, gospel songs and bluegrass.

It has also evolved and given rise to other popular styles such as:

  • jazz
  • blues
  • country & western
folk music
Folk Music

Folk music was the beginning of the development of American music and the instruments most often used were:

  • accordion
  • banjo
  • guitar and violin
  • harmonica
  • mandolin

Woody Guthrie and Arthur Booth were some of the musical founders of early folk music.

jazz music
Jazz Music

Jazz Music is a uniquely American music form.

The music called Jazz was born sometime around 1895 in New Orleans. It combined elements of Ragtime, marching band music and Blues.

Jazz represented a break from Western musical traditions, where the composer wrote a piece of music on paper and the musicians then tried their best to play exactly what was in the score.

Buddy Bolden is generally considered to be the first bandleader to play the improvised music which later became know as Jazz.

He was the first "King" of cornet in New Orleans, and is remembered by the musicians of that time period as one of the finest horn players they had ever heard.

His band starting playing around 1895, in New Orleans parades and dances, and eventually rose to become one of the most popular bands in the city.


Joe “King” Oliver

The second wave of New Orleans Jazz musicians like Joe "King" Oliver, Kid Ory and Jelly Roll Morton formed small bands that took jazz music and created a greater commercial success.

This music became well known as "Hot Jazz,” because of the often breakneck speeds and amazing improvised polyphony that these bands produced.


A young virtuoso cornet player named Louis Armstrong was

discovered in New Orleans by King Oliver.

Armstrong soon grew to become the greatest Jazz musician of his era and eventually one of the biggest stars in the world.

The impact of Armstrong and other Jazz musicians altered the course of both popular and classical music.

African-American musical styles became the dominant force in 20th century music.

Other well known Jazz composers and performers included:

Charlie Parker

Billie Holiday

Frank Sinatra





The blues is a native American musical and verse form, with no direct European and African antecedents of which we know.

The earlier history of the blues musical tradition is traced through oral tradition as far back as the 1860s.

When African and European music first began to merge to create

what eventually became the blues, the slaves sang songs filled with

words telling of their extreme suffering and privation.

Some famous American blues musicians are:

Bessie Smith

Buster and Pearl Brown

country western music
Country & Western Music

To better understand country music, it is helpful to understand the most commonly used musical instruments in the genre.

The fiddle (or violin) was the most common instrument since it was easy and inexpensive to make and not a major burden to carry around.

The banjo, brought to the American South by slaves, became popular in the mid-1800s.

Contemporary country music often uses the electric guitar, which became popular in the '50s.

Other stringed instruments include:
  • dobro
  • dulcimer
  • steel guitar and mandolin
  • zither
  • bass and autoharp

Some of Country Music's most well known musicians include:

Chet Atkins

Hank Wiliams

Faith Hill

american music is
American Music is…

…constantly evolving

…varied and distinct

…a part of our american heritage and something to be treasured.