American Music at the Turn of the 20th Century Essay

American Music at the Turn of the 20th Century Essay

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To understand whether an ‘American’ music emerged out of traditions in the turn of the 20th century, we need to focus on the term ‘American’ and what musical genres fall under that category. For one, America, in a cultural sense, is seen as one huge ‘melting pot’, an amalgamation of cultures, ethnic traditions, beliefs and styles of music. It is very difficult to label one genre under the category of American music, as a vast amount of styles, in historical terms, have come about from a mixture of styles such as Jazz and Country music. Influences from a variety of ethnic backgrounds provided the chance for the growth and commercialism of genres and made them more mainstream. With the focus being on jazz and Country, it is made clear that these genres came from an array of ethnic traditions formed from their birthplace regions. The idea of music in America being diverse can identify genres as indeed American and that indeed an American music emerged from traditions that entered the twentieth century.

Ethnically, blacks can be credited as emerging the Jazz traditions from Blues roots and other sub-genres such as ragtime, but on a regional front, despite New Orleans being the birthplace of Jazz, it wasn’t made popular and in my opinion, American, until it spread into other cities, thanks to White musicians and composers.
When exploring Jazz music, it is essential to explore its roots in Blues Music. Derived from the regional traditions of the south and ethnic traditions surrounding the slaving culture of the 1800s, Blues music can be traced back to the Mississippi Delta plantations and industries that demanded heavy manual labour for Blacks (Crawford, 2001b, 557). The blues inspired jazz at the end of the nineteenth century and i...


... middle of paper ...


...aditions, primarily from the south, created a musical diversity and with that, an American music.



Works Cited

Candelaria, L. & Kingman, D., 2007. American Music: A Panorama, Third Concise Edition, California, Clark Baxter, Thomson-Schirmer

Crawford, R., 2001a. America’s Musical Life: A History, New York, W. W. Norton & Company Inc.

Crawford, R., 2001b. An Introduction to America’s Music, New York, W. W. Norton & Company Inc.

Ferris, J., [1990] 2006. America’s Musical Landscape, Fifth Edition, New York, McGraw-Hill

Malone, B. C., [1968] 2000. Country Music USA: Revised, Texas, University of Texas

Mauk, D. & Oakland, J., [1995] 2009, American Civilisation: An Introduction, Fifth Edition, New York, Routledge

Taylor, F. J. 2005. “Black Music and Musicians in the Nineteenth Century” in The Western Journal of Black Studies, 29.3 (2005), 615-620

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