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MUS111H1 Lecture Notes - Agrarian Society, Romanticism, Religious Music

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Joshua Pilzer

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Early Popular Music Industry
Importance of newness
Accessibility via mass production and mass media (emergence of popular music =
emergence of mass media)
Music Publishing
1710 (Britain):
First copyright law
Late 1700s:
Composers begin to make living by sale of sheet music mass mediation
o i.e. Beck releases his new music as a book of sheet music as opposed to a recording
European mass-production and sale of pianos; salon culture
o Element of participation the music may have been mass produced and circulated, but
you have to make it yourself at home
First International music copyright law
After 1850:
North American sales of classical scores
*Industrial song production / publishing industry takes off in US
Late 1800s:
Centralization of music publishing in Tin Pan Alley (NYC)
o Many things begin to have their production centred in NYC
Minstrel Shows
Origins in 1830s
Peaks in years surrounding the Civil War
Lasts into the 1910s
Supplanted by Vaudville (turn of the century) NY
Many principal composers of early popular song
Urban (prominence of NY)
Country-to-city migrants
European immigrants
*Blackface racist caricatures
White people in drag as African Americans performing caricatures of African American
culture and music
The role of the blackface performer (one who parodies African American cultural forms and
life) becomes an established role that then African Americans themselves can step into
o Banjo played backwards
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o Fiddle
o „Bones‟ (percussion)
o Tambourine
Racist caricature of Af. Am.‟s has transformed over time – some of these things look
o Banjo is generally seen as a „white‟ instrument now; stereotypically an Af. Am.
instrument, then being adopted by white people
o Fiddle is associated with Ireland, the British Isles (folk music); NA with „white folk
music‟ or classical music
o Well-establish tradition of Af. Am. fiddlers and violinists
o Idea being that the things being caricatured in Minstrel times are not so much in
existence anymore; these shows are important because they‟re part of the history of early
travelling musicians and have a kind of system of music circulation, yet they‟re
circulating parodies of Af. Am. music and life consequences for the whole shape of
popular music
Thus led to the mainstream appropriation of African American music
Core audience of Minstrelsy is the United States and Canada
o Became a convenient way of selling products (Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben) why? Focus
on the domestic, basic food material, down-home aspect, sentimentality, quaintness,
rural aura adhering to these things
*Audience: A kind of white, urban nostalgia (for a rural past)
o Europeans: imagining a new kind of blackness to make a new kind of whiteness
o “Perfect blackness” – by laughing at this image, that laughing creates a new sense of
o Literal way that people could become considered a part of popular culture by parodying
minority culture through parodying, minority culture is created and thus popular
culture is created
Romanticized, preindustrial slave
o Jim Crow romanticized vision of a post-emancipation African American who is still
basically content to do rural kinds of work
o Nostalgia for this kind of rural past that people have left behind
o JC picture circulated on sheet music, therefore disseminating the image
“Zip Coon” – emancipated African Americans with pretentions of American civilization
o Minstrelsy audience being the industrialized, working class as the middle class grows
in the US and has more of a say in terms of popular entertainment (transition from
Minstrelsy to Vaudeville), they begin to want more of this „sophisticated entertainment‟
(racist parodying)
o Song that talks about how Zip Coon has aspirations to become the president of the US
song for „white people‟ to say “we have a civilization” and if blacks were to „put on the
clothes‟ of white civilization, they‟re merely making a mockery
o Stereotypical view of Af. Am.'s playing violins is not around anymore
o Fiddle, guitar, lead vocal with chorus
o Lyrical use of 'de' for 'the'; 'dis' for 'this' - parodying language, signifying a decay in
o One of the roots of non-lexical singing in North America
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