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Chapter 33: American Popular Music to World War II

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  1. Chapter 33: American Popular Music to World War II

  2. Early American Psalm Singing • Pilgrims brought with them simple religious music • found in a Psalter (Book of Psalms) • Neither wanted nor had musical instruments, trained singers, or professional choirs • Within 20 years of their arrival, the Bay Psalm Book(1640) was printed • Only a few tunes were needed because one tune could be used for an entire group of psalms • “Lining Out”: A leader would sing each line of a psalm and the full congregation would immediately repeat that line

  3. Early American Psalm Singing • Musical notation began to appear in new editions of the Bay Psalm Book • Steeped in the Anglo-Irish tradition of singing improvised harmony against a given tune • By the mid-18th century, fuguing tunes appeared • Singing the psalm as a short canon or roud • “Windsor”: includes examples of lining out, improvised four-part harmony, and fuguing

  4. Folk Music and Country Music • Folk music • Usually remembered by ear, not written down • Music and text change over the years • Product of an entire group • Country music • Repertoire of songs for solo singer, male or female, with lyrics treating the subjects of love and life’s disappointment • Came from ballads of Anglo-Irish settlers in Appalachian region • Fiddle, banjo, dulcimer • Uncomplicated harmonies • Radio, recording separated country music from folk tradition

  5. Blues • A form of black folksong • Emerged during the 1880s and 1890s • Passed along by oral tradition • Work song and field holler of black laborers • Wailing vocal style, the blues scale, and a body of subjects • Anglo-American folk ballad • Regular, predictable pattern of chord changes • First printed as sheet music in 1912 • First recorded in 1920, most made by black artists • Sung to relieve a melancholy soul, to give vent to feelings of pain and anger • Blues subjects: poverty, loneliness, oppression, family troubles, infidelity, separation

  6. Blues • Blues Lyrics • Three to six stanzas common • Each stanza three lines (AAB form) • A: The blues is a lowdown, achin’ heart disease, • A: The blues is a lowdown, achin’ heart disease, • B: It’s like consumption, killin’ you by degrees. • Instrumental Break • A short instrumental response to the voice • Occurs at the end of each line • Guitar as accompanying instrument • Provides a solid harmonic support • Serves as an expressive “second voice” answering the singer

  7. Blues • Blues Scale • Features “blue notes” • Notes that fall between the diatonic notes of the scale • Common in African-American folk song • Used in place of a major or minor scale

  8. Bessie Smith (1894-1937) • “Empress of the Blues” • Sold 2 million records her first year • Highest-paid black artist of the day • Powerful voice capable of strength, precision, and tender beauty • “Lost Your Head Blues” (1926) • Huge sweeping voice • Twelve-bar blues

  9. Jazz • “America’s classical music” • Influenced by traditional musical practices of Africa (found in African-American spirituals and blues) • European influence of marches, hymns, and folk music • General definition • Lively and energetic • Pulsating rhythms and scintillating syncopations • Played by small ensemble (a combo) or big band • Tends to be polyphonic • Strong element of improvisation

  10. Ragtime: A Precursor of Jazz • The immediate precursor of jazz and includes many of the same rhythmic features • “To rag”: Play or sing music in a heavily syncopated jazzy style • Musical style: • Steady bass, syncopated treble • Jaunty and upbeat • Originated during the 1890s • Primarily piano music • Emerged in saloons and brothels • Eventually accepted into middle-class homes • Lost popularity after World War I

  11. Scott Joplin (1868-1917) • “King of Ragtime” • Maple Leaf Rag(1899) • His most successful composition • Sold more than a million copies • Form similar to an American military march • Harmony distinctly European • Syncopation

  12. New Orleans Jazz • Early jazz greats lived in New Orleans: • King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong • French influence • City filled with sounds of opera, marches, ballroom dances, African-American blues and ragtime • Style • Melody played by the trumpet • Clarinet supports trumpet, embellishes the tune • Trombone adds a lower contrapuntal line • Rhythm section sets harmony and tempo • Improvised

  13. Louis Armstrong (1901-1971) • Born in New Orleans • Followed his mentor King Oliver to Chicago • Invented “scat” singing • Nonsense syllables • Voice treated like an instrument • Gravelly sound to his voice in “Hello Dolly” and “Mack the Knife” • Hot Seven • “Willie the Weeper” • Never written in music notation • Chorus: Each presentation of the tune

  14. Big Bands and Swing • Swing: A popular style of jazz played by a big band in the 1930’s and 1940’s • Glory days of the bands of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman • Large ensemble (“Big Bands”): • Multiple trumpets, trombones, and saxophones • Rhythm section still consists of single instruments • “Charts” rather than improvisation • Everything planned out • Played from notation • A more disciplined, polished sound

  15. A Jazz and Folk Synthesis: George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess (1935) • George Gershwin (1898-1937) • Began his career as a song plugger • Soon writing his own songs • Rich and famous at age 21 • Created symphonic jazz • Rhapsody in Blue (1924), Piano Concerto in F (1925), An American in Paris (1928) • Porgy and Bess (1935) • Story revolves around African American life in Charleston, South Carolina • “Summertime” functions as an idée fixe • Includes folk elements