introchapter 1chapter 2Interlude Achapter 3chapter 4chapter 5Interlude Bchapter 6chapter 7chapter 8Interlude Cchapter 9chapter 10chapter 11chapter 12chapter 13
Chapter 1
Print this page
  • Elvis Presley on television in 1956 (See Figure 1.1)
    • Controversy
      1. Grinding hips and suggestive singing on Milton Berle's show
      2. Cameras permitted to shoot only from Presley's chest up on the Ed Sullivan Show
      3. Protest from adult viewers fueled their teenage children's interest
      4. Clear indication that rock and roll was specifically intended for teenagers
    • Importance of Presley's performance on national television
      1. Instant credibility
      2. Reaction (good and bad) was on a large scale
      3. Immediate exposure to vast segment of American society
  • The world of mainstream pop before 1955
    • National versus regional
      1. Early post-nineteenth century American culture was regional
        • People were conditioned by immediate surroundings
        • Less travel
        • Less access to national and world news
      2. Popular music styles were associated with geographic regions
        • Certain styles of music were popular in certain regions of the country
        • People played instruments themselves or went to live performances
        • Many Americans could read sheet music or play by ear
      3. Rock and roll has roots in three styles of music
        • Mainstream popular music
        • Rhythm and blues
        • Country and western
    • Emergence of large-scale entertainment media
      1. Radio was only regional until 1928
        • Developed at the end of the nineteenth century
        • Originally intended for military and maritime communications
        • 1920: first important broadcasts by KDKA (Pittsburgh) and WWJ (Detroit)
        • They broadcast news, local information, and live music
      2. NBC went "Coast to Coast" in 1928 with a national radio network
      3. 1930s and 1940s were a golden age for motion pictures
        • Music was an important part of motion pictures
        • Motion pictures played to audiences across the country
    • 1930s-1940s national network programming made some pop styles more national than others
      1. Target audience was middle class with their appreciation for certain artists
        • Bing Crosby
        • Andrews Sisters
        • Big Bands
        • Frank Sinatra
      2. National exposure caused less distinction among these styles of mainstream pop
      3. Styles that remained regional were country and western and rhythm and blues
        • Low-income whites seemed to prefer country and western music
        • Low-income blacks seemed to prefer rhythm and blues
        • These styles kept their regional distinctions
  • The rise of radio networks in the 1920s
    • High power transmission ("Superstations") had a range of several hundred miles
    • Federally licensed frequencies
      1. Called "clear channels," they had no local interference
      2. Range could be several states
      3. Some stations set up transmitters in Mexico
        • Called "X" stations because their call letters began with the letter X
        • More powerful than allowed by U.S. government
        • Sometimes X stations could be heard from Mexico to Chicago
    • In 1928 NBC created the first network that spanned the entire country—"Coast to Coast"
      1. Used ATT telephone lines to connect local and regional stations
      2. Participating stations were called affiliates
        • Programming originated in a central location (usually New York)
        • Affiliates also contributed live programming
        • This concept is still in use in television
        • This is also the model for talk radio stations
      3. Up until 1945 records were not played on radio
        • Considered unethical—that the station was trying to fool the listeners
        • Radio was originally all about live performance in real time
        • Was a positive environment for musicians—more work for them
        • Musicians' union worked to keep records off the air
    • Wide spectrum of network shows broadcast during the 1930s and 1940s
      1. Radio plays and "soap operas" (continuing serial dramas sponsored by soap companies)
        • The Guiding Light (began in 1937)
        • Superman
        • The Lone Ranger
        • Amos 'n' Andy (comparable to the success of Seinfeld, M*A*S*H, or Friends)
      2. The national network audience defined a national popular culture
        • Music was always an important part of radio
        • National exposure could bestow instant success
  • Television was introduced in the late 1940s
    • Corporate money and interest shifted from radio to television
    • RCA (Radio Corporation of America) was a key player
      1. Headed by David Sarnoff
      2. He was the radiotelegraph operator who decoded the Titanic SOS signal in 1912
      3. Worked his way up to head of the company
      4. He developed the first NBC network in 1928
    • Television was thought to be more appealing than just radio
    • Many long-running radio series moved to television (see IIID.1.a-d above)
    • Now there were three entertainment concepts that combined to establish a national pop culture:
      1. Radio
      2. Motion pictures
      3. Television
    • As television grew, radio audiences diminished
      1. Local and regional radio executives became creatively entrepreneurial
      2. This new attitude toward survival plays a key role in the development of regional styles
        • Country and western music styles
        • Rhythm and blues music styles
  • Tin Pan Alley and the sheet music publishing industry
    • It was an area in New York City with a high concentration of music publishing companies
      1. First half of twentieth century, sheet music was the principal way to sell music
        • Tin Pan Alley's music publishing companies employed staff songwriters
        • They worked on old pianos that seemed to sound like tin pans
    • Tin Pan Alley is also used as a term to describe a way of doing business in popular music
      1. Thousands of songs written by professional songwriters
        • Irving Berlin
        • Cole Porter
        • George and Ira Gershwin
        • Jerome Kern
      2. The Tin Pan Alley era focused on marketing the song itself
        • Was a contrast to rock music, which markets recordings of songs on record, tape, CD, or MP3
        • Tin Pan Alley was focused on selling the intellectual property: words and music
        • The goal was to get as many different singers as possible to record the song their own way
        • The more versions, the more royalties for the songwriter and the publisher
      3. Songs were marketed to the public in various ways with the goal being sheet music sales
        • Most common: convince performers to include it in their performance
        • "Song pluggers" working for publishers interrupted performances with their new song
        • Songs could be included in Broadway shows and motion pictures—especially musicals
        • The best guarantee of success was getting a song performed on national radio
      4. Radio was dominated by big bands (1935-1945) and star singers (1945-1955)
    • Tin Pan Alley songs followed (with flexibility) several formal patterns
  • Tin Pan Alley era formal structural patterns
    • Sectional verse-chorus
      1. Sectional verse section sets the mood of the song
      2. Sectional chorus is the main section of the song that is most recognizable
        • Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" is best known by its sectional chorus
        • Most popular version sung by Bing Crosby
        • Featured in the movie Holiday Inn that included the entire song.
      3. Sectional choruses often in a 32-measure pattern called AABA form
        • "Over the Rainbow" sung by Judy Garland in the film Wizard of Oz
      4. The AABA form is common in rock music
  • Singers and big bands
    • Tin Pan Alley publishers, singers, and radio networks all depended upon each other to survive
      1. Big bands were dance bands that included
        • Rhythm section of bass, drums, piano, and guitar
        • Horn sections of trumpets, trombones, and saxophones
      2. Big bands were led by permanent leaders who were instrumentalists
        • Benny Goodman
        • Tommy Dorsey
        • Jimmy Dorsey
        • Glenn Miller
      3. Singers were merely featured soloists—intended to add some variety to the act
      4. Singers and musicians within the band were temporary and interchangeable
    • Bing Crosby (see Performance Box 1.1)
      1. Most important pop singer of 1930s and 1940s
      2. Relaxed crooning style generated a string of hit recordings
        • "Pocket Full of Dreams" (1938)
        • "Only Forever" (1940)
        • "Swinging on a Star" (1944)
        • "White Christmas" (1942) and (1945)
      3. Had successful film acting career
        • In several films he co-starred with Bob Hope
      4. Hosted his own radio variety show sponsored by Kraft Foods
    • The Andrews Sisters
      1. Many hit records capitalizing on their harmony vocal arrangements
        • "Bei Mir bist du Schoen" (1938)
        • "Shoo-Shoo Baby" (1943)
        • "Rum and Coca Cola" (1945)
    • The Mills Brothers
      1. Like Andrews Sisters, their style was built on harmony vocal arrangements
        • "Tiger Rag" (1931)
        • "Paper Doll" (1943)
        • "You Always Hurt the One You Love" (1944)
      2. Both groups' singing style foreshadowed 1950s doo-wop and 1960s girl groups
    • Frank Sinatra
      1. Like Bing Crosby, he broke away from being a big band featured singer and went solo
        • Sang with Harry James band
        • Sang with Tommy Dorsey band
      2. Established the singer as the star of the show, setting the stage for future rock singers
        • Elvis Presley
        • Pat Boone
      3. Went solo in 1943
        • Became a teen idol based upon good looks and sensual style of singing
        • Young girls reacted by swooning and fainting
        • A great example of his singing style is "I've Got a Crush on You" (1948)
        • He became one of the most successful singers of pop music
        • His career as a performer lasted well into the 1980s
    • Big band era ended at the end of the 1940s due to financial hardships—too costly an enterprise.
    • Tin Pan Alley supplied songs to singers backed by smaller combo bands until 1955
  • Pop music in the early 1950s
    • Singer is out in front of the music—solo vocalist with instrumental background
    • Wholesome songs are meant for family audience: children, their parents, and grandparents
      1. Patti Page
        • "How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?" (1953)
        • "Tennessee Waltz" (1950) was number one for 13 weeks
      2. Eddie Fisher: "Oh My Papa" (1954)
      3. Tony Bennett "Rags to Riches" (1953)
      4. Johnny Ray "Cry" (1951) introduced a more emotional style of singing
      5. Les Paul and Mary Ford introduced the solid body electric guitar to their vocal duo style
        • "I'm Sittin' on Top of the World" (1953)
      6. Other female vocal stars reinforced the concept of singer backed by instrumental accompaniment
        • Jo Stafford: "You Belong to Me" (1952)
        • Kay Starr: "Wheel of Fortune" (1952)
    • This was the sound on the national network airwaves up through 1955
    • Tin Pan Alley was not ready for rock and roll
      1. The broadcasters, record companies, and publishers were focused on the pop audience
      2. Rock also included aspects of two other styles that were not considered important (or lucrative)
        • Country and western music
        • Rhythm and blues music
      3. Big music businesses didn't understand these styles
  • Country and western music: two distinct regional styles until the late 1940s
    • "Country" music in 1920s-1930s southeast
      1. Nashville became the center for recording this type of music in late 1940s
      2. "Country" music was found in southeast and Appalachia
        • Derived from folk music of the British Isles
        • Earliest field recordings made by Ralph Peer known as "hillbilly music"
        • He recorded "Fiddlin'" John Carson and Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers
      3. The Carter Family exemplify this early regional style—influenced by white gospel music
        • Maybell: acoustic guitar and vocals
        • Sarah: autoharp and vocals
        • A.P. : vocals
        • "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" (1935)
      4. Roy Acuff and His Crazy Tennesseans
        • Included slide guitar in their sound
        • Slide guitar foreshadowed inclusion of Hawaiian pedal steel in later country and western music
        • "Great Speckled Bird" was a hit for them in 1936
    • "Western" music in 1920s-1930s, California and southwest
      1. Connection with Hollywood movies about cowboys
      2. Gene Autry was the first of the "singing cowboy" movie stars
        • "Back in the Saddle Again" (1935) was a big hit for him
        • Roy Rogers was also extremely popular
        • Patsy Montana's "I Want to Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart" (1935) used Jimmie Rodgers-style yodeling
    • Western swing
      1. Big band with a cowboy twist
        • Radio dance band with rhythm section, horns, fiddles, steel guitar, and Mariachi trumpet parts
      2. Popularized by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys (they were also in movies)
        • "New San Antonio Rose" (1940) is an example of this style
        • Bing Crosby's 1941 version further popularized the style
    • Jimmie Rodgers: the first country music star
      1. He was to country music what Gene Autry and Roy Rogers were to western music
      2. Difference being that Autry and Rogers careers were enhanced by film appearances
      3. Jimmie Rodgers's singing style was imitated by subsequent country and western singers
        • Yodeling: "Blue Yodel" (1927) was covered by Lynyrd Skynyrd
        • Rodgers was known as "The Blue Yodeler"—a rustic "back porch" image
        • Also known as "The Singing Brakeman"—a wandering hobo type of person
        • This was just marketing, as he was known to perform in fancy decorative clothing
      4. The Jimmie Rodgers image became the model for country and western artists
  • Superstation broadcasts of country and western music
    • Radio stations began broadcasting country music in the 1920s
      1. WSB in Atlanta in 1922 broadcast performances by local artists
        • "Fiddlin'" John Carson
        • Git Tanner
      2. WBAP in Ft. Worth
      3. WSM in Nashville launched the Grand Ole Opry in 1925 and became a clear channel station in 1932
      4. WLS in Chicago broadcast the National Barndance, going national in 1933 on NBC
      5. NBC began a coast-to-coast broadcast of WSM's Grand Ole Opry in 1939
    • Country music during WWII
      1. Soldiers stationed together shared music interests—especially country and western music
      2. Country and western music became the most popular style among the Armed Forces
      3. Southerners migrated north after the war to fill factory jobs there—bringing their music with them
  • Nashville as the headquarters of country and western music in the post-WWII years
    • Country and western music business enterprises began moving there in the 1940s
      1. Influence largely due to the impact of the Grand Ole Opry show
      2. Acuff-Rose publishing company was a key element
        • Founded by Roy Acuff and songwriter Fred Rose in 1942
        • Didn't rely on printed music but rather recorded music
        • 1946 Fred Rose signed Hank Williams as a songwriter
        • Their 1950 pop hit "Tennessee Waltz" expanded their financial base and influence
    • Hank Williams: the personification of 1950s country and western music
      1. 1948 began performing on the Louisiana Hayride radio show on KWKH in Shreveport
      2. First important recording was a Tin Pan Alley song, "Lovesick Blues"
      3. Joined the ranks of regulars on the Grand Ole Opry in 1949
      4. Hank Williams's songs and singing style
        • Extensive vocal inflections sounded like sincere emotional expressions
        • Lyrics are direct and simple—common conversational vocabulary
        • Autobiographical sounding lyrics and emotional delivery made him sound believable
      5. Important Hank Williams songs
        • "Lovesick Blues"
        • "Your Cheatin' Heart"
        • "Cold, Cold Heart"
        • "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"
        • "Hey, Good Lookin'"
    • Bluegrass music and Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys
      1. Developed by Bill Monroe and His Blue Grass Boys during post-WWII period
        • Bill Monroe: mandolin and high vocal harmony
        • Robert "Chubby" Wise: fiddle
        • Lester Flatt: acoustic guitar and lead vocal
        • Earl Scruggs: banjo
      2. First performed on the Grand Ole Opry in 1939—gained more popularity in the late 1940s
      3. Bluegrass music was used as theme music for television and movies
        • The Beverly Hillbillies television show ("The Ballad of Jed Clampett")
        • "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" from the film Bonnie and Clyde
        • "Dueling Banjos" from the film Deliverance
      4. Virtuosic instrumental aspects of the music overshadow vocals
      5. Earl Scruggs developed a new technique called "three finger roll"
        • Allowed for much more complex passages
        • Elevated the banjo to new heights of virtuosic technique
        • Inspired generations of musicians to follow his example
  • Blues: rural (delta blues) and urban (rhythm and blues)
    • Beginning of the blues
      1. Post-WWI sheet music by W.C. Handy was sold nationally
        • "Memphis Blues"
        • "St. Louis Blues"
      2. Recordings by singer Bessie Smith
        • "Down Hearted Blues"
        • Sold a million copies in 1923
        • Recorded in New York with finest jazz musicians
    • Delta (rural) blues
      1. Robert Johnson
        • Enormous influence on rock guitarists of the 1960s
        • Sang and accompanied himself on guitar
        • Relaxed attitude toward meter and harmonic structure
        • Extremely emotional vocal style
        • His "Cross Roads Blues" (1936) is an excellent example of his style
        • It was covered by Cream in 1968
    • Urban blues
      1. Blues musicians moved to cities and formed combos
        • Electric guitars
        • Bass
        • Drums
        • Harmonica
        • They used microphones to amplify the vocals
        • More organized structure because more than one person was involved
      2. By the early 1950s Chicago was the center of electric blues
      3. Records did not circulate far from the city where they were recorded
        • Therefore blues remained much more regional than pop music of the same time period
        • This is similar to what happened with country and western music at the same time
    • Jump blues
      1. Louis Jordan and the Tympani Five
        • Some of his songs became popular on the pop charts
        • "GI Jive" (1944)
        • "Caldonia Boogie" (1945)
        • "Choo Choo Ch'boogie" (1946)
      2. The Jordan approach to blues
        • Dance tempos and rhythms found in big band
        • Reduced instrumentation: rhythm section and his saxophone
        • Upbeat humorous lyrics and stage antics
        • Influenced groups like the Coasters and Chuck Berry
  • Blues and the music business
    • How the radio business works in conjunction
      1. Commercial radio stations are supported by money from advertisers
        • They sponsor programs that are suited to an audience that would buy the sponsor's products
        • The early 1950s pop audience had shifted from radio to television—this was good
      2. Inventive radio executives tried broadcasting styles of music other than pop
        • Country and western music
        • Blues
      3. Black audiences grew in urban areas during the 1940s
        • Creating a market in cities for radio stations playing music that blacks liked
        • Creating a market in cities for products that blacks liked
        • Informing blacks of advertisers that wanted their business
        • Due to racial segregation in those times, that was helpful information
      4. Because it was broadcast, white listeners (particularly teens) could hear it too
    • Post-WWII independent record labels
      1. Independent record labels opened specializing in rhythm and blues
        • Sun Records in Memphis
        • Chess Records in Chicago
        • King Records in Cincinnati
        • Atlantic records in New York City
      2. Independent record labels were small operations
        • Not capable of national distribution
        • Capitalized on major labels' lack of interest in black music
        • Radio capitalized on television's lack of interest in black music
        • Radio and independent labels supported each other
      3. Major labels at the beginning of the 1950s:
        • Decca
        • Columbia
        • Rca-Victor
        • Mercury
        • Capitol
        • MGM
    • Gospel music influence
      1. Southern blacks learned to sing in church
      2. Harmony ideas derived from gospel music
      3. Sacred song lyrics sometimes changed into secular black pop songs
      4. Good example: "I Got a Woman" by Ray Charles
      5. Caused controversy, considered blasphemous and/or a "sell out"
    • Chess Records in Chicago
      1. Founded in 1947 by Caucasian blues fans Phil and Leonard Chess
      2. Low-budget facilities and equipment
      3. Specialized in solo singers backed by small electric bands
        • Howlin' Wolf: "Evil" (1954)
        • Muddy Waters: "I Just Wanna Make Love to You" (1954)
        • John Lee Hooker
        • Little Walter
        • Bo Diddley: "I'm a Man" (1955)
      4. Rough-edged emotion, expressive vocals, unpolished production
      5. Instrumental accompaniment combined technical skill with bravura
      6. General impression conveyed was simple honesty
      7. Adult-oriented lyrics
      8. This style of Chicago electric blues was not meant to appeal to white middle-class tastes
    • Atlantic Records black pop
      1. Founded in 1948 by (white blues fans) Ahmet Ertegun and Herb Abramson
      2. Atlantic records songs were more polished—kept the singer out front
        • Similar approach to the big band style when singers were featured performers
        • Incorporated some of the big band harmony, rhythm, and instrumentation
      3. Singers were technically more polished
        • Ruth Brown
        • Big Joe Turner
        • Clyde McPhatter
        • Ray Charles
      4. Arrangements were more structured and controlled
      5. Less emphasis on instrumental solos
    • Doo-Wop: urban vocal music
      1. Began with competing street singers in urban neighborhoods
      2. Couldn't afford instruments so songs were sung a capella
      3. Doo-wop refers to nonsense syllables in the vocal arrangement
      4. Derived harmonic aspects of the music from church singing
      5. Solo singer against vocal group accompaniment
      6. AABA form derived from Tin Pan Alley style songs
      7. Compound meter: beats are divided into three equal parts instead of two
      8. Important groups and songs in this style:
        • Chords: "Sh-Boom" (1954)
        • The Five Satins: "In the Still of the Night" (1956)
    • Controversy
      1. White middle-class parents disapproved of their teenage children's interest in this music
      2. Disapproval largely due to negative racial stereotypes
      3. Lyrics were often suggestive and sometimes blatant
      4. Hokum blues contained double-entendres
      5. When white artists covered rhythm and blues they cleaned up the lyrics or topic

w. w. norton and Company, inc. technical supportcontact us 1920s - 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s