American 20th Century Music – Literature review Example

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The paper “ American 20th Century Music”   is a  persuasive example of a literature review on music. This essay will consider the development of music in America during the 20th century, in particular looking at the differences from the music of native Americans, in style, content, and purpose, and then on through time to the development of rock and roll in the 1950s. This will be done by considering three main genres: Country Music, Big Band, or Blues Rock. Native American music was acoustic and did not include metal instruments or electronics. Densmore (1936) is cited by InfoPlease (2015) as describing how it was mainly vocal, most often choral, although some groups prefer solo singing.

The music is melodic, with no harmonies or polyphony, although at times there is antiphonal singing between a soloist and the chorus. The singing is almost always accompanied, most often by drums, and rattles are also used. The wind instruments used are, in the main, flutes and whistles. According to Indians. org ( 2015), the songs are often passionate, and often serve a religious purpose in that they are used to invoke the spirits, to ask for healing or rain. Country Music One of the nearest styles to the native American music in 20th-century  styles is perhaps country music, in that acoustic instruments are used, and like some native music, often the singer is a soloist.

Jimmy Rogers, born in 1897, is also known as the father of country music, is a well-known example. Unlike native Americans, Rogers recorded his music, and broadcast on radio, in the first instance in February 1927 ( Jimmie Rogers, father of country music, undated).

His performance was seen as bring music which was very different from what the station, WWNC in North Carolina, normally broadcast. By August of the same year, Rogers was making his first record. One song recorded was ‘ The Soldier’ s Sweetheart’ ( Song Lyrics, 2015), a true ballad in that it tells a story, in this case relating back the First World War. A ballad can be defined as: -A simple song, especially one of sentimental or romantic character, having two or more stanzas all sung to the same melody ( Dictionary. com, 2015). This telling of a story in the song is typical of country music.

More unusual it is sung by a man but from a young woman’ s point of view. Often country music songs are very personal and purport to relate to real-life incidents in the singer's life, or ones they know about, as in Garth Brooks ‘ Unanswered Prayer ‘ or Jeannie Riley’ s ‘ Harper Valley PTA’ ( Country Outfitter, 2004). Country music is, however, most often melodic sung by a soloist, or quite small groups, and doesn’ t have the back and forth between soloist and chorus of native music. Hank Williams (1923 – 1953)was often described as country music’ s first superstar.

Having first learned music from his mother, a Baptist church organist ( Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 2015). , he carried over the native American practice of using music as prayer in his Christian country songs such as ‘ The Blind Child’ s Prayer. ’ ( Song Lyrics, 2015), although he did sing songs from other genres too, as in ‘ Your cheating heart’ . Williams, from Alabama, had spina bifida which tended to mean he didn’ t mix very much with other children.

Instead, he listened to music on the radio and learned to play both folk, country music on his guitar, and also blues from an African-American street musician, Rufus Payne.

References

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About Entertainment, 2015, Roy Acuff, [Online] Available at http://countrymusic.about.com/od/Roy-Acuff/p/Roy-Acuff-Biography.htm [Accessed 9th May 2015]

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Dahl, B., 2015, John Lee Hooker, [Online] Available at http://www.allmusic.com/artist/john-lee-hooker-mn0000815039/biography [Accessed 9th May 2015]

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