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Chapter 1

MUSIC 2II3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Arnold Rodgers, Bob Wills, John Lee Hooker

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Simon Wood

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Textbook Notes - Whats That Sound? Introduction & Chapter 1
Introduction: Studying Rock
Elements to consider
I know what I like: The Fan Mentality
- Fans listen frequently to music of a particular artist, group or style and gather interesting
facts about both the artists and the music
oIgnoring artists, groups and styles that do not interest us
- As music students we must be careful and balance all types
- Don’t have to suspend your own sense of judgement, but have to work to keep the fan
mentality at bay
The Ups and Downs of Chart Positions
- Rank hit songs and albums by popularity for a given week and the best known American
charts appear in Billboard magazine
- Charts help us draw general conclusions about the popularity of a song or album at the
time it was released
oCan compare how certain songs did on pop charts with the way they fared on
rhythm and blues or country charts
- Charts can help us avoid fan mentality and keep us honest
- Sometimes viewed with understandable suspicion because little is known about how
they have been put together in the past, making them susceptible to manipulation
- Aren’t precise instruments for measuring a song or album’s success or popularity and do
not accurately reflect the popularity or influence of some songs or albums
- However in broad sense charts are still the best instruments we have available to judge
listeners’ changing tastes
Chapter 1: The World before Rock and Roll
Building a National audience for music and entertainment
National versus Regional
- Emergence of a national audience in the first half of the twentieth century
- End of nineteenth century, the majority of Americans lived in a world very much
conditioned by their local and regional surroundings
- In terms of popular and musical styles, styles could often be identified with particular
regions of the country
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- Early gramophone cylinders and disks made recorded performances available to many
Americans, but the music that people knew still tended to be mostly the music they could
either play or hear performed in person
- Radio technology developed at the end of the nineteenth century
oInitially for military purposes, communication with ships at sea
- First radio broadcasts dates back to 1920, when KDKA in Pittsburgh and WWJ in Detroit
went on air with a blend of news, local information and live music
oFor the first time, listeners within range of a regional radio station could enjoy
music that might otherwise be unavailable to them
oNetwork radio audiences suddenly became national audiences
- Some pop styles became national while other styles kept their regional identities
- The mainstream pop played on network radio during the 1930s and 1940s was directed
at white, middle-class listening audience
- Music that music business people thought might appeal only to low-income or white or
low income black listeners (rural or urban) was mostly excluded
oSince country and western and rhythm and blues were considered music for
such low-income listeners, these styles were not often programmed on network
radio, and so they retained their regional distinctions
The Rise of the Radio Networks in the 1920s (How Did they work?)
- Broadcasters discovered there were two reliable ways of reaching ever-larger audiences
oBroadcast the radio signal via a high power transmitter
Under favourable atmospheric conditions, such “superstations” could
reach listeners within a radius of several hundred miles of the transmitter
oLink a number of local and regional stations together to form a network
NBC used AT&T telephone lines to link up 69 stations across the country
for its first coast to coast broadcast in 1928
Soon NBC was running 2 networks, other networks getting into business
as well
- Network system had a number of distinct advantages
oProgramming could be run from one central location (most often a studio in NY)
oPossible to run live programming from member stations (called “affiliates”) which
gave networks a tremendous range of programming to choose from
- Before 1945 it was considered unethical to play records on air
oIt’s like you are fooling people into believing a performance was live
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oTherefore most music was performed live on air
- Most larger stations also employed a studio band for local programming
- Stations had to work to fill the remaining on air time when no network programs were
broadcast, created lots of opportunity for entrepreneurial local bandleaders
- American Federation of Musicians took strong political steps in the 1940s to keep
records (“canned music”) off the airwaves
oKeeping music live meant keeping musicians and union members working
- Network radio programming offered listeners a wide range of entertainment
oThe Guiding Light appeared in 1937
oShows like The Lone Ranger and Superman entertained listeners throughout
most of the 1930s and 40s
oOne of the greatest successes of the era was the comedy Amos ‘n’ Andy which
premiered in 1929
- Once radio came on scene, a song could become popular almost overnight, could be
heard far and wide in a single performance
Tin Pan Alley
Sheet Music Publishers and Professional Songwriters
- Development of radio and television was one influence on mainstream popular music, a
second was music publishing
- Sheet music was the principal way of selling music in the first half of the twentieth
- Sheet music business concentrated in an area of New York City often referred to as Tin
Pan Alley
oFormed a hundred years ago by songwriters and song producers that clustered
here to form the geographic heart of the industry
oNamed cause of the high concentration of songwriters plunking out their song
ideas on row of pianos which sounded like a bunch of people banging on tin pans
o“Tin Pan Alley” is now shorthand not only for the body of music produced at that
time but also a way of doing business in popular music
- TPA songs follow a standard, though very flexible, formal pattern
oMany make use of a sectional verse chorus format
oSectional chorus: song listeners are likely to recognize
Often cast in a 32 measure structural pattern called AABA form
oSectional verse: a kind of introduction that sets the scene for the song
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