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Popular Music and things you should know!

American Popular Music- From Minstrelsy to Mp3

Popular music, like so much of American culture, reflects a kaleidoscope of contributions, a cross-fertilization of styles, and a blending of dreams. It could hardly be otherwise in this nation of immigrants. Arguably the United States is a perfect musical laboratory: take people from every corner of the globe, give them the freedom to create. 

Popular music is defined by Wikipedia as follows: Popular music belongs to any of a number of musical genres “having wide appeal” and is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional, which are typically disseminated academically or orally to smaller, local audiences. The words … any of a number of musical genres “having wide appeal” … show us the broad, even ambiguous character of the definition of “popular music”.

Because while one might agree that “a number of musical genres” is in about 20 different genres, there is disagreement over what it means to have a wide appeal: selling more records, being broadcast many times, preferred by many classes of listeners According to Wikipedia, the word “popular music” began to be used by Americans in the 1880s, the time when “Tin Pan Alley” was formed, consisting of music publishers and avant-garde musicians of popular music.

In the article below, we will find out what kind of Popular music are? And who are the representative artists for Popular Music?

Cradle of Pop music

“Tin Pan Alley” was originally the name of an alley in Manhattan, New York City, located on West 28th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenue, is home to music shops, music publishing facilities. and the aforementioned musicians were later used to call this group. Can write, Tin Pan Alley is the cradle of popular music

Tin Pan Alley plaque
Tin Pan Alley plaque

Today, Tin Pan Alley alley is gone, only a plaque on West 28th Street to remember.

According to historians as well as plaque content, American popular music thrived in the early decades of the 20th century until the Great Depression (the 1930s). Since the songs of that time are not well known to music lovers around the world, we would like to begin with the time after World War II, a time when all American art began to grow or to recover.

Popular Jazz and Swing: America original art form 

Jazz, one of America’s original art forms, emerged in New Orleans, Louisiana, around 1900. New Or leans’s position as a gateway between the United States and the Caribbean, its socially stratified population, and its strong residues of colonial French culture, encouraged the formation of a hybrid musical culture unlike that in any other American city. Jazz emerged from the confluence of New Orleans’s diverse musical traditions, including ragtime, marching bands, the rhythms used in Mardi Gras and funerary processions, French and Italian opera, Caribbean and Mexican music, Tin Pan Alley songs, and African-American song ­ ­ traditions, both sacred (the spirituals) and secular (the blues). ­

The New Orleans-born cornetist and singer Louis Armstrong is commonly credited with establishing certain core features of jazz — particularly its rhythmic drive or swing and its emphasis on solo instrumental virtuosity. Armstrong also profoundly influenced the development of mainstream popular singing during the 1920s and 1930s. Armstrong emerged as an influential musician on the local scene in the years following World War I and subsequently migrated to Chicago to join the band of his mentor King (Joe) Oliver, playing on what are regarded by many critics as the first real jazz records. 

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong

In 1924 Armstrong joined Fletcher Henderson’s band in New York City, pushing the band in the direction of a hotter, more improvisatory style that helped to create the synthesis of jazz and ballroom dance music that would later be called swing. By the 1930s Armstrong was the best–known black musician in the world, as a result of his recordings and film and radio appearances.

Nowadays, jazz music in general, jazz art, in particular, is no longer for whites, nor for colored people, it has quickly become a global musical genre.

The distinctive musical trait of African-Americans is creativity. Five important musical elements include: Sense of rhythm; repetition in call and answer responses; beats; the dominance of Percussion and Mixed Rhythm. These factors are present in jazz to this day. Therefore, African-American music has a great influence on the formation and development of jazz music. Jazz began to spread around the world, to its homeland Africa, then back to America.

Famous names of Popular music

The biggest name of American popular music in the postwar period was African-American male singer, Nat King Cole (1919-1965).

Nat King Cole’s real name is Nathaniel Adams Coles, originally a prominent jazz pianist, but was later known by music lovers around the world, and admired by his baritone voice. At the beginning of his career, Nat King Cole played piano and sang in the famous American jazz bands. By the early 1950s, he changed direction, began recording popular and successful songs, such as Mona Lisa (1950), Too Young (1951), Unforgettable (1951), etc.

Nat King Cole
Nat King Cole

At that time, Nat King Cole was criticized by many people in the jazz industry as “losing its roots”, but in our opinion, and also by many others, it is a good thing for people who love music to belong in all ingredients, classes. Because after all, jazz has a high artistic value, but not all classes and members of society have the conditions and qualifications to enjoy it.

The song Too Young written by Sidney Lippman and lyric by Sylvia Dee, recorded by Nat King Cole in early 1951, has been number one on the Billboard music magazine chart for five consecutive weeks and is on the list of “best seller” for 29 weeks.

The second name of popular music we mention is Tony Bennett, one of the most famous post-20th century Italian-American male singers. And he is also the only one alive on this list of famous artists on this period include:

– Perry Como (1912 – 2001)
– Frank Sinatra (1915 – 1998)
– Dean Martin (1917 – 1995)
– Mario Lanza (1921 – 1959)
– Tony Bennett (1926 – present)
– Al Martino (1927 – 2009)

Tony Bennett whose real name is Anthony Dominick Benedetto, was born in New York, has a talent for singing from a young age. At the end of World War II, Tony Bennett served in American forces fighting in Europe. After his demobilization, the young man practiced his own voice according to his own technique, signed by Columbia Records. And in 1951, the song Because of You, a song was written by Arthur Hammerstein and Dudley Wilkinson in 1940, recorded by Tony Bennett became the No. 1 track on the Billboard music magazine chart.

Tony Bennett
Tony Bennett

However, it was not until 1962 that Tony Bennett truly became an international name through the immortal song I Left My Heart in San Francisco. In other words, the song I Left My Heart in San Francisco has become immortal thanks to the singing of Tony Bennett.

Through 1966, it was Frank Sinatra‘s turn to storm the charts with Strangers in the Night. This track topped No. 1 on both the Hot 100 and Easy Listening lists of the US music magazine Billboard, the United States, and the UK Singles Chart of the UK.

Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra

At the 1967 Grammy Music Awards, Strangers in the Night won the following three awards: Song of the Year, Best Male Pop Singer, and Best Mix.

Two years later, the singer nicknamed “Ol‟ Blue Eyes “made headlines again with the song My Way, which was later widely considered the” witness “song by Frank Sinatra; Although only ranked 27th on the Hot 100 list, No.2 on the Easy Listening list, and No.5 in the UK, it has created two records that so far there is no popular song surpassed: ranked in the Top 40 in the UK for 75 consecutive weeks, and is the song that has been sung by the most singers.

However, according to the spectators, if only in terms of art, the culmination of Frank Sinatra’s career is still Strangers in the Night.

In addition to the two popular music lines mentioned above, Popular music also has a number of other genres that can be named such as: Rock n Roll, Blues, Hip-hop, Country, R & B / Soul … And the typical artists of These music lines can include Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Beyonce, Amy Winehouse …


American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy To MP3 5th Edition By Larry Starr, Christopher Waterman

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