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MUSC 2150 Final: MUSC2150 Outline

Course Code
MUSC 2150
Shannon Carter
Study Guide

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1920s 1955
o Tin Pan Alley; area of New York City
1914: refers to the body of music produced at the time and the way
of doing business in popular music
follows a standard, flexible, formal patterns
sectional verse-chorus
o Mainstream Pop, Rhythm & Blues, and Country & Western were the
prominent markets for popular music before rock and roll emerged in 1955
o Mainstream Pop: middle-class culture, focus on the song
o Rhythm & Blues: blacks, making music for blacks, focus on the record
o Country & Western: low-income whites, focus on record
o First half of 20th century, sheet music was the method of selling music
o Rise of the Radio Networks Occurred in 1920s
Only Mainstream Pop was on the radio
Allowed music to be reached to larger audiences
Performed live; unethical to play records on air before 1945
o Late 1940s, Radio transitioned to TV
Other styles of music incorporated other than just Mainstream Pop;
Rhythm & Blues and Country & Western
o Mainstream Pop
1935-1945 Rise of the Big Band Era
pop music created by dance bands had a rhythm section of
bass, drums, piano and guitars with a horn section
vocalist is the focus of the song, instrument solo provides
1950s pop music is dismissed as being corny and stiff
produced for family audiences and designed to broad, white-middle
class audiences; avoided topics unsuitable for general audiences
however, features can be detected that led to the emergence of the
rowdier, youth-oriented rock and roll
example: Frank Sinatra’s sensual appeal
o Country & Western Music
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Remained regional until after 1945 (WWI)
Country in Southeast, 1930s
o Folk style
o Influenced by white gospel music
Western in Southwest, 1930s
o Reflected wide open prairie of the cowboys
o “cowboy music”
After WWII military were sharing each other’s taste in music
resulting in southern Country & Western music spreading to the
Nashville became the Country & Western Headquarters
Prominent Figures
Jimmie Rodgers: First Star of Country Music, 1920s
Hank Williams: singer-songwriter, 1950s
Late 1930s, Blue Grass
Played upbeat, dance music that features instrumental
Based on older songs, influenced by white gospel, Tin Pan
Alley and Western swing
By early 1950s, Country & Western had from from mostly regional
to known at least to some extent by most Americans. Only
beginning to make its mark as a national style at just about the time
that Rock and Roll was about to explode.
It remained separate from Mainstream Pop but early Rock and Roll
would challenge the lines that separated them
o Rhythm and Blues
Referred to originally as “race” music from 1920s-1940s, changed
to rhythm and blues in 1949
Common characteristics:
Full of scoops and slides, to increase emotional affect of the
Vocal timbre is usually rough and raw, suggesting strong
emotion and sincerity
Shuffle rhythm
Syncopation: unexpected strong beat or accent
Field Holler
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Unlike Country & Western, it played almost no role in the
mainstream American pop in the years leading up to the
emergence of rock and roll
Middle-class white Americans were unaware of black culture
After WWI became popular with mainstream pop listeners as black
southern migrated to the North, they brought their music with them
but by the end of the decade (end of the 1920s) blues fell off
commercial radar
Emerged again in the 1930s and 1940s, changing from rural blues
to urban blues
Rural (Delta) Blues
o Slide on the guitar neck is a common feature
o Often glass or ceramic
o Sung solo or a cappella
o Vocal timbre: rough and thin, sometimes nasal
o Mostly men
Urban Blues
o Memphis, Chicago, and Detroit
o Rhythm section: guitar and/or piano, a bass and
o 12-bar blues chord progression
1950s, since TV had taken over the radio, radio networks were
focusing on a regional/local approach. They realized black
population was growing in urban cities, so decided to target them
by playing rhythm and blues records
Radio’s stations devoted to rhythm and blues led to recording
labels specializing in black popular music; independent companies
Common trait: influence of Gospel harmony sung in black churches
(doo-wop, call & response). Scouts would search for performers in
churches (gospel) and bars (blues)
Early 1950s, there was a development of Chess Records and
Chicago Electric Blues which produced raw, unsophisticated sound.
Electric blues records had the most impact on rock and roll
1948, Atlantic Records tried to reach a broader audience through
Black Pop; aiming for a more polished sound.
Doo-Wop (Urban Vocal Music)
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