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Ch. 3: Popular Music in its Infancy

Between the composed and cultivated classical art music which was created for the elite upper class and the earthy and functional folk music which was crafted by the people in the lower class was a third category which, at times, blended elements of classical and folk into its own path: popular music.

If classical was music for the elite and folk music was music by the peoplepopular music can simply be defined as music created for the people.

The original printed popular songs in Britain were ballads which found their way onto single sheets containing just the lyrics (called “broadsides”) or collections containing both words and music (called “songsters”). These ballads were refined folk song stories which had been transcribed into music and sold to the public. Often dozens, even hundreds of variations on one folk ballads existed, which only helped to build the market demand for the most current broadside sheet or songster collection.

However, in early 18th century America, the printing presses were controlled by the religious community, which limited the type of music and songs being printed to proper hymns and sacred music. By the 1760s, when the first music store started in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it stocked a variety of musical instruments as well as the availability of printed American popular ballads or story songs.

In the early 19th century, the musical difference between American cultivated music and American composed ballads was slight. American composers of “serious” music were modeling, borrowing and openly copying from their European counterparts, such as Mozart and Beethoven. At the same time, the writers of popular song ballads were also patterning their efforts after the more respected European musical literature.

Early in the 1800s, however, the split between the fine-art classical music and the vernacular popular music began to grow. Popular music, like folk music, was utilitarian in nature, for the purpose of entertainment. It was un-selfconscious, unpretentious and openly sentimental. Art music, on the other hand, was concerned with maintaining a cultural piety and sophistication which elevated the listening experience from mere entertainment to the level of esoteric experientialism. Popular music was designed to appeal to the most base elements of the masses. Art music invariably drew a distinction between those who appreciated Beethoven from those who appreciated bratwurst. During the course of the century, composed American music moved from one broad style of popular/art music to two very distinct genres a universe apart.

By the 1820s and ’30s, popular song in America was evolving into overly sentimental ballad songs with syrupy melodies and lyrics capable of wringing the hearts of growing middle class audiences in music halls. These audiences, more refined than the backwoods folk singers and less snobbish than the elite upper class, were finding the balance in saccharine songs like “Woodsman, Spare That Tree” and “The Lament of the Blind Orphan Girl.”

Aiding in the popularity of these songs was the availability of printed sheet music and the affordability of mass produced instruments – most importantly, the piano. For the first time, the public could buy a single printed copy of the lyrics and music for a song. Armed with the sheet music to the songs they had heard in the concert halls, the middle class could retire to their parlors to perform the songs on their pianos for family and friends. For this reason, these sheet music songs were called “parlor songs.” For this reason, the rise of the sheet music industry in the 1830s was the formal beginning of the modern American popular music era. But the first great American popular songwriter was still a decade from penning the first great American popular song.

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Study Units

An Overview

Ch. 1: Understanding Pitch

Ch. 2: Understanding Musical Pulse

Ch. 3: Understanding Volume

Ch. 4: Understanding Tone

Ch. 5: Understanding Melody

Ch. 6: Understanding Harmony

Ch. 7: Understanding Rhythm

Ch. 8: Understanding Bass

Ch. 9: Understanding Countermelody

Ch. 10: Understanding Structure

Ch. 11: Understanding Instrumentation

Ch. 12: Understanding Tempo

An Overview

Ch. 1: 19th Century: Pre-Foster

Ch. 2: Folk Music by the People

Ch. 3: Popular Music in its Infancy

Ch. 4: Stephen Foster – “Father of American Popular Music”

Ch. 5: The Importance of Stephen Foster

Ch. 6: Scott Joplin – “King of Ragtime”

Ch. 7: The Player Piano – Automated Music

Ch. 8: John Philip Sousa – “The March King”

Ch. 9: John Philip Sousa – Recording Artist and Activist

An Overview

Ch. 1: John Lomax – Recording American Roots Music

Ch. 2: Woody Guthrie – “Father of Modern American Folk Music”

Ch. 3: Leadbelly & Pete Seeger: End of the First Wave

Ch. 4: The Kingston Trio – Beginning of the Second Wave

Ch. 5: Joan Baez – “First Lady of Folk Music”

Ch. 6: Peter, Paul & Mary – Balancing the Message

Ch. 7: Robert Zimmerman – The Beginning of an American Icon

Ch. 8: Dylan in New York City

Ch. 9: Dylan after Newport

Ch. 10: The Importance of Dylan

Ch. 11: Folk Music in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: The Roots of Country

Ch. 2: Bristol Beginnings

Ch. 3: The Grand Ole Opry

Ch. 4: Cowboys and the Movies

Ch. 5: Western Swing

Ch. 6: Bluegrass: Hillbilly on Caffeine

Ch. 7: Honky-tonk: Merging Two into One

Ch. 8: The Nashville Sound: Country-Pop

Ch. 9: Rockabilly – Country meets R&B

Ch. 10: Country Feminists Find Their Voice

Ch. 11: The Bakersfield Sound

Ch. 12: Austin “Outlaw” Country

Ch. 13: Neo-Traditionalists at the end of the 20th Century

Ch. 14: Mainstreaming Country in the ‘90s

Ch. 15: Redesigning Country in the 21st Century

An Overview

Ch. 1: What is Jazz?

Ch. 2: Before It Was Jazz

Ch. 3: Jazz is Born!

Ch. 4: Early Jazz Musicians

Ch. 5: Louis Armstrong

Ch. 6: Chicago and Harlem – Hub of 1920s Jazz

Ch. 7: Big Band – Jazz Swing!

Ch. 8: Big Band Musicians and Singers

Ch. 9: Jump Blues and Bop

Ch. 10: Cool Jazz

Ch. 11: Hard Bop

Ch. 12: Free Jazz – Breaking the Rules

Ch. 13: Fusion – The Jazz-Rock-Funk Experience

Ch. 14: Third Stream and World Jazz

Ch. 15: New Age & Smooth Jazz

Ch. 16: Summary – Jazz Lives!

An Overview

Ch. 1: Blues – The Granddaddy of American Popular Music

Ch. 2: Where Did the Blues Come From?

Ch. 3: What Are the Blues?

Ch. 4: How to Build the Blues

Ch. 5: Classic Blues – The Early Years

Ch. 6: Delta Blues – Authentic Beginnings

Ch. 7: Blues in the City – Migration and Power

Ch. 8: Blues in Britain – Redefining the Masters

Ch. 9: Contemporary Blues – Maturity and Respect

Ch. 10: The Relevancy of the Blues Today

Ch. 1: Timelines, Cultures & Technology

Ch. 2: Pre-Rock Influences

Ch. 3: Rock is Born!

Ch. 4: Rock is Named

Ch. 5: Doo-Wop

Ch. 6: Independent Record Labels

Ch. 7: Technology Shapes Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 8: The Plan to Mainstream Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Payola – Rock ‘n’ Roll’s First Scandal

Ch. 1: Crafting Sound in the Studio/Producers and Hit Songs

Ch. 2: West Coast Sound: Beach, Surf, and Teens

Ch. 3: The British Invasion: Two Prongs – Pop & Blues

Ch. 4: Motown and the Development of a Black Pop-Rock Sound

Ch. 5: Soul Music: Gospel and R&B in the Deep South

Ch. 6: The Sounds of Bubble Gum Pop-Rock

Ch. 7: The Arrival of Folk-Rock

Ch. 8: Psychedelic Rock ‘n’ Roll

Ch. 9: Early Guitar Gods of Rock

Ch. 10: Rock Festivals: The Rise and Fall of Music, Peace, and Love

Ch. 11: Anti-Woodstock and Shock Rock Movements

Ch. 1: Technological Breakthroughs

Ch. 2: Electronic Dance Music

Ch. 3: Hip-Hop & Rap – An Introduction

Ch. 4: The Beginnings of Rap

Ch. 5: Old School Rap – Up From the Streets

Ch. 6: Rap’s Golden Age

Ch. 7: East Coast – Political Rap

Ch. 8: West Coast – Gangsta Rap

Ch. 9: The Fragmentation of Rap – Pop, Party & More

Ch. 10: Further Fragmentation – Different Directions

Ch. 11: The Importance of Rap

Ch. 1: Musical Stage Productions in America before the 1800s

Ch. 2: Minstrel Shows and Melodramas

Ch. 3: Stage Presentations in the Late 19th Century

Ch. 4: Early 20th Century: Revues and Operettas

Ch. 5: The Arrival of the Modern American Musical

Ch. 6: Great Partnerships in Book-Musicals

Ch. 7: Musical Theatre Composers in the mid-Century

Ch. 8: Fresh Voices on the Stage in the 1960s

Ch. 9: Two Dominant Forces at the End of the Century

Ch. 10: New Voices at the End of the Century

Ch. 11: New Voices, New Sounds in the New Century

Ch. 12: Musical Theatre Glossary

Ch. 13: Is it “Theatre” or “Theater”?

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