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MUSC 2150
Shannon Carter

MUSC 2150 – Week 2 Dominant Culture vs. Underground Cultures (P. 34-73) Major Components of Music Industry Before 1955 • Rock and roll developed out of mainstream popular music, country/western, and rhythm & blues → Tin Pan Alley most popular (wholesome); country/western and rhythm and blues were regional, but also appealed to white youth audiences Development of National Audience in United States • Musical styles were regional. Popular songs were those that could be played or heard in person, purchased as sheet music people could play themselves, or learned by ear without having to read music • Movies and technology began to spread music around and began to blur regional boundaries. Radio most important since it provided music that would otherwise be unavailable to areas • Some pop styles went national (target audience was white and middle-class). Country/western and rhythm and blues did not (target audience was low-income listeners) Musical and Non-Musical Elements of Tin Pan Alley, Country/Western, and Blues Music • Tin Pan Alley → Publishers and songwriters centered in Tin Pan Alley (area of New York City) → ASCAP – American Society of Composers, Artists, and Publishers → Usually AABA form. Mostly sectional verse-chorus format (two large sections of a song: the chorus is the most recognizable part, while the verse acts as introduction that sets the scene. Different usage of “verse” and “chorus” than found in rock music). Mostly love songs → In Tin Pan Alley era, profit derived from the song, rather than a specific recording of the song. Same song would be recorded by different artists who put own spin on it. Allowed songwriter and publisher to earn more money. Sheet music sales were the key to success in the Tin Pan Alley business model → Broadway musicals and movies made songs known, but the radio was the most successful way to promote songs • Country/Western → BMI – Broadcast Music Incorporated (also for rhythm/blues) → Barely present in mainstream American pop → Distinctive regional accents divided into “country” music from southeast/Appalachia and “western” music from southwest/West → Country – Based on folk traditions of the region, largely derived from British Isles folk music. Many of the earliest country recordings made by producer Ralph Peer who roamed the South recording local musicians (including the Carter Family and Roy Acuff) →Western – Associated with Hollywood’s portrayal of cowboy culture. Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Patsy Montana were all singers associated with “cowboy music” and Western films. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys and Milton Brown and His Musical Brownies popularized Western swing, a cowboy twist on the big band idea → World War II helped make country known (soldiers shared music) as did the migration of white workers north to fill factory jobs created by war effort. After WWII, Nashville became center of country and western music (also home of Grand Ole Opry). → Relied on recorded and performed songs rather than sheet music sales • Rhythm and Blues → No presence in mainstream American pop until black Americans migrated from the South to the North looking for work → Usually shuffle rhythm → Before being called “rhythm and blues” in late 1940s, was called “race” music (played by black musicians and intended for black listening audience) → Wasn’t a single musical style before rock and roll (collection of popular-music styles tied together by audience and specific music characteristics) → After WWI blues enjoyed several years of popularity with mainstream white pop listeners, partly through the sheet music of W.C. Handy and recording of his material featuring famous female black singers → Rural blues – Usually a solo singer accompanied by acoustic guitar. Robert Johnson was a rural blues singer whose 1936-37 recordings were very influential on rock guitarists of the 1960s → After decades of African-American migration, by early 1950s Chicago became most important scene for electric blues in United States (largely due to Chess, an independent recording company) -Chess records music often had rough-edged emotional directness, raw technically unsophisticated record sound, and few concessions to white, middle class sensibilities → Atlantic records was an independent company in New York that produced “black pop” - Music had a more polished pop sound that followed the mainstream practice of focusing on singer and song. The backup arrangements were structured and controlled. → Stagger Lee myth – Idea that some black men are especially defiant and sexually driven. Many white parents felt that blues music was a “dangerous influence” on their children, many racial stereotypes in early 1950s
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