A person who adapts (or arranges)
the melody and chords to songs to
exploit the capabilities and
instrumental resources of a
particular musical ensemble.
A type of song in which a series of
verses telling a story, often about a
historical event or personal tragedy,
are sung to a repeating melody (this
sort of musical form is called
The underlying pulse of a song or
piece of music; a unit of rhythmic
measure in music.
A genre of music originating
principally from the field hollers and
work songs of rural blacks in the
southern United States during the
latter half of the nineteenth century.
A large sheet of paper on which
ballads were published; the
predecessor of sheet music
A musical statement by a singer or
instrumentalist that is answered by
other singers or instrumentalists.
A repeating section within a song
consisting of a fixed melody and
lyric that is repeated exactly each
time that it occurs, typically following one or more verses.
The musical structure of a piece of
music; its basic building blocks and
the ways they are combined
A term that evokes the channeled
flow of “swinging” or “funky” or
“phat” rhythms.
An African-influenced variant of the
European country-dance tradition
that swept the United States and
Europe in the 1880s. The
characteristic habanera rhythm—an
eight-beat pattern divided 3–3–2—
influenced late nineteenth-century
ragtime music.
A memorable musical phrase or riff.
A person who supplies the poetic
text (lyrics) to a piece of vocal
music; not necessarily the
The words of a song.
A forerunner of today’s theme
parks; one of the main venues for
the dissemination of printed songs
by professional composers in
England between 1650 and 1850.
A simple, repeating melodic idea or
pattern that generates rhythmic
A song form that employs the same
music for each poetic unit in the
“Time” in Italian; the rate at which a
musical composition proceeds, regulated by the speed of the beats
or pulse to which it is performed.
The quality of a sound, sometimes
called “tone color.”
A group of lines of poetic text, often
rhyming, that usually exhibit
regularly recurring metric patterns.
The first white performer to
establish a wide reputation as a
“blackface” entertainer.
“Daddy” Rice
White actor born into a poor family
in New York’s Seventh Ward. As a
blackface performer, he introduced
the “Jim Crow” character.
A minstrel troupe led by the white
banjo virtuoso Dan Emmett; their
show introduced more lengthy
performances featuring a
standardized group of performers.
They first appeared in 1843.
Stephen Collins
Foster (1826–
Composed around two hundred
songs during the 1840s, 1850s, and
early 1860s; regarded as the first
important composer of American
popular song. He was probably the
first person in the United States to
make his living as a full-time
professional songwriter; he wrote
“Oh! Susanna,” “Old Folks at
Home,” “My Old Kentucky Home,
Good Night,” “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair,” and “Beautiful
John Philip
Sousa (1854–
The most popular bandleader from
the 1890s through World War I; was
known as America’s “March King.”
The son of a trombonist in the U.S.
Marine Band, Sousa eventually
became its conductor and later
formed a “commercial” concert
band, which toured widely in
America and Europe. He composed
popular marches such as “El
Capitan,” “The Washington Post,”
and “The Stars and Stripes
Scott Joplin
African American composer and
pianist; the best-known composer of
ragtime music. Between 1895 and
1915, Joplin composed many of the
classics of the ragtime repertoire
and helped popularize the style
through his piano arrangements,
published as sheet music. Scott
Joplin’s first successful piece was
“Maple Leaf Rag” (1898).
Four- or five-stringed instrument
with a membrane stretched over a
wooden or metal hoop that is
strummed or plucked. It was
developed by slave musicians from
African prototypes during the early
colonial period. The banjo was used
in the music of the minstrel show,
early jazz, old time country music,
and bluegrass.
A style of stage makeup in which
performers would apply burnt cork
to darken their face. It is associated
with the practice of minstrelsy.
Nickname for the character in a
minstrel show who performed the
bones and was positioned at the end
of a line of performers (as was
Africanized version of the European
quadrille (a kind of square dance).
The cakewalk was developed by
slaves as a parody of the “refined”
dance movements of the white slave
Repeating section within a song,
consisting of a fixed melody and
lyrics repeated exactly, typically
following one or more verses.
(or country
Dance tradition in which teams of
dancers form geometric figures such
as lines, circles, or squares.
One of the standard performers in
the minstrel show; the lead
performer who sang and provided
patter between acts
minstrel show
The first form of musical and
theatrical entertainment to be
regarded by European audiences as
distinctively American in character.
Featured mainly white performers
who artificially blackened their skin
and carried out parodies of African
American music, dance, dress, and
phonograph (or
Early device for playing recorded
sounds etched on a disc.
The word derives from the African
American term “to rag,” meaning to
enliven a piece of music by shifting
melodic accents onto the offbeats (a
technique known as syncopation).
Ragtime music emerged in the
1880s, its popularity peaking in the
decade after the turn of the century.
Scott Joplin is the recognized
master of this genre
In the verse-refrain song, the
refrain is the “main part” of the
song, usually constructed in AABA
or ABAC form.
sheet music:
The principal medium for
disseminating popular sings until
the advent of recording in the
song plugger
Employee of Tin Pan Alley music
publishing firms who promoted their
popular songs.
Rhythmic patterns in which the
stresses occur on what are
ordinarily weak beats, thus
displacing or suspending the sense
of metric regularity.
Character in a minstrel show who
performed the tambourine and was
positioned at the end of a line of
performers (as was Bones).
Tin Pan Alley:
Nickname for a stretch of 28th
Street in New York City where music
publishers had their offices—a dense
hive of small rooms with pianos
where composers and “song
pluggers” produced and promoted
popular songs. The term, which evoked the clanging sound of many
pianos simultaneously playing songs
in a variety of keys and tempos,
also refers to the style of popular
song created by these publishers in
the first half of the twentieth
Style of show that included a variety
of acts; it became the dominant
form of popular entertainment in
late nineteenth- and early
twentieth-century America.
Type of dance with a triple-meter
accompaniment, circular
movements, and smooth, graceful
Vernon and
Irene Castle:
Husband-and-wife dance team who
popularized the tango and the fox-trot. The Castles attracted millions
of middle-class Americans into
ballroom classes, expanded the
stylistic range of popular dance, and
established an image of mastery,
charisma, and romance. They were
possibly the biggest media
superstars of the World War I era.
Dixieland Jazz
White group from New Orleans led
by the cornetist Nick LaRocca. Their
recording of “Livery Stable Blues”
and “Dixieland Jass Band One-Step”
was released in March 1917, and
within a few weeks, it had sparked a
national fad for jazz music.
James Reese
Europe (1880–
Talented African American pianist
and conductor. Played ragtime piano
in cabarets and acted as a musical
director for several all-black
vaudeville revues. In 1913, Vernon
and Irene Castle hired him to be
their musical director. From 1913
until 1918, Europe composed music
for all of the Castles’ “new” dance
steps and provided musicians for
their live engagements.
Noble Sissle
and Eubie Blake
African American musicians who
began their career with James
Reese Europe’s orchestra in 1916.
In 1921, Sissle and Blake launched
the first successful all-black
Broadway musical, Shuffle Along
Don Azpiazu
Latin American bandleader during
the swing era; his band played
music to accompany ballroom
adaptations of South American and
Caribbean dances.
Paul Whiteman
Bandleader for the most successful
dance orchestra of the 1920s. He billed himself as the “King of Jazz,”
widened the market for jazz-based
dance music, and paved the way for
the Swing Era.
Africanized version of the European
quadrille (a kind of square dance).
Ironically, the cakewalk was first
developed by slaves as a parody of
the “refined” dance movements of
the white slave owners.
A musical element found in New
Orleans jazz in which the players of
the ensemble improvise and
embellish melodies simultaneously.
sound film
Introduced in 1927. Became an
important means for the
dissemination of popular music.
Style of dance that developed
during the late nineteenth century
in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The
tango blended European ballroom
dance music, the Cuban habanera,
Italian light opera, and the ballads
of the Argentine gauchos
turkey trot
A popular dance of the early
twentieth century. Considered
scandalous because of the close
contact between the dancers
Irving Berlin
Generally recognized as the most
productive, varied, and creative of
the Tin Pan Alley songwriters. His
professional songwriting career
started before World War I and
continued into the 1960s. His most famous songs include “Alexander’s
Ragtime Band,” “Blue Skies,”
“Cheek to Cheek,” “There’s No
Business Like Show Business,”
“White Christmas,” and “God Bless
Richard Rodgers
Produced many of the finest songs
of the twentieth century, in
collaboration with lyricists Lorenz
Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II.
Wrote the ground-breaking musical
Oklahoma! in partnership with Oscar
Hammerstein II in 1943
Cole Porter
Born into a wealthy family in
Indiana; studied classical music at
Yale, Harvard, and the Schola
Cantorum in Paris
The son of an immigrant
leatherworker, did much to bridge
the gulf between art music and
popular music. Studied European
classical music but also spent a
great deal of time listening to jazz
musicians in New York City. Wrote
Porgy and Bess (1935), which he
called an “American folk opera.”
Bing Crosby
A crooner, by far the most popular
representative of the style. Sales of
his records have been estimated at
more than 300 million.
Al Jolson
Billed himself as “The World’s
Greatest Entertainer.” The most
popular performer of his generation;
his career overlapped the era of
vaudeville stage performance and
the rise of new media in the 1920s
AABA form
One of the most common structures
that Tin Pan Alley composers used to organize their melodic and
harmonic material. This structure
would be found in the refrain of a
verse-refrain song
The B section of AABA song form
found in the refrain of a Tin Pan
Alley song. The bridge presents new
material: a new melody, chord
changes, and lyrics.
A style of singing made possible by
the invention of the microphone. It
involves an intimate approach to
vocal timbre.
In a verse-refrain song, the refrain
is the “main part” of the song,
usually constructed in AABA or
ABAC form
In much African American music, a
melody or rhythmic pattern that is
repeated to create momentum
American popular songs from the
Tin Pan Alley style of songwriting
that remain an essential part of the
repertoire of today’s jazz musicians
and pop singers
A two-part musical structure used
by Tin Pan Alley composers in which
the verses usually assumed an
introductory character and were
followed by the refrain
Usually sets up a dramatic context
or emotional tone. Although verses
were the most important part of
nineteenth-century popular songs,
they were regarded as mere
introductions by the 1920s, and
today the verses of Tin Pan Alley songs are infrequently performed
Mamie Smith
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio; known as
the “Queen of the Blues.” She was a
pioneer blues singer, pianist, and
black vaudeville performer. In 1920,
she recorded the bestsellers “Crazy
Blues” and “It’s Right Here For You,
If You Don’t Get It, ‘Tain’t No Fault
of Mine.” Mamie Smith’s success as
a recording artist opened up the
record industry to recordings by and
for African Americans.
Sophie Tucker
A popular Jewish American
vaudeville star who specialized in
“Negro songs.” She was known as
“The Last of the Red Hot Mamas.”
Ralph Peer
A Missouri-born talent scout for
Okeh Records; he worked as an
assistant on Mamie Smith’s first
recording sessions and was the first
to use the catchphrase “race
music.” He discovered the Carter
Family and Jimmie Rodgers at a
recording session in Bristol,
Tennessee, in August 1927
“W. C.” Handy
The “Father of the Blues,” born in
Alabama in 1873. Cornet player and composer, he went on to receive a
college degree and became a
schoolteacher. In 1908, cofounded
the first African American?owned
music publishing house. His first
sheet music hit was “Memphis
Blues” (1912), and his biggest hit
was the song “St. Louis Blues”
Ethel Waters
Entertained the growing African
American middle class in New York,
Chicago, and other northern cities.
She recorded with bandleaders
Fletcher Henderson, Duke Ellington,
and Benny Goodman, and appeared
in several films
Gertrude “Ma”
Rainey (1886–
Popularly known as the “Mother of
the Blues,” was the first of the great
women blues singers and had a
direct influence on Bessie Smith
Bessie Smith
Called the “Empress of the Blues,”
she was born in Chattanooga,
Tennessee, and performed in
traveling shows and vaudeville
before embarking on a recording
career with Columbia Records. Her
recordings include W. C. Handy’s
“St. Louis Blues” and Irving Berlin’s
“Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”
Armstrong, aka
” (1901–71):
Born in New Orleans; a cornetist
and singer, he established certain
core features of jazz, particularly its
rhythmic drive and its emphasis on
solo instrumental virtuosity.
Armstrong also profoundly
influenced the development of
mainstream popular singing during
the 1920s and 1930s. In 1964, he
had a Number One hit with his
version of “Hello, Dolly!”
Charley Patton
(ca. 1881–
One of the earliest known pioneers
of the Mississippi Delta blues style.
The son of sharecroppers; a
charismatic figure whose
performance techniques included
rapping on the body of his guitar
and throwing it into the air. His
powerful rasping voice, strong
danceable rhythms, and broad
range of styles made him ideal for
Saturday night dances and all-day
Blind Lemon
The first recording star of the
country blues. Born blind, Jefferson
was living the typical life of a
traveling street musician by the age
of fourteen. His first records were
released in 1926. Jefferson?s East
Texas style features a nasal vocal
timbre and sparse guitar
Robert Johnson
Little is known of his early years.
His guitar playing was so
remarkable and idiosyncratic that
stories circulated claiming he had
sold his soul to the devil to play that
way. Johnson died apparently as a
victim of poisoning by a jealous
husband. His work was especially
revered by the British guitarist Keith
Richards of the Rolling Stones, and
by Eric Clapton
Fiddlin’ John
Carson (1868–1949):
Musician from Georgia who made
the first commercially successful
hillbilly record in 1923.
In 1920, became the first
commercial radio station in the
United States
Vernon Dalhart (1883–1948)
A Texas-born former light-opera singer who recorded the first big
country music hit. In 1924, Dalhart
recorded two songs: “Wreck of the
Old 97″ and “The Prisoner’s Song,”
a million-seller that contributed to
the success of the fledgling country
music industry.
The Carter
Born in the isolated foothills of the
Clinch Mountains of Virginia,
regarded as one of the most
important groups in the history of
country music
Called the “Singing Brakeman,” he
was the most versatile, progressive,
and widely influential of all the early
country recording artists and was
early country music’s biggest
recording star. His influence can be
seen in the public images of Hank
Williams, Waylon Jennings, Willie
Nelson, and almost every
contemporary male country music
Guthrie (1912–
One of the musicians most closely
associated with the plight of
American workers during the Great
Depression. He was born in
Oklahoma and began his career as a
hillbilly singer. He composed songs
that were overtly political in nature,
including “This Land Is Your Land,”
“Talking Dust Bowl Blues,” and
“Ludlow Massacre.” After 1940, he
was known primarily as a protest
blue notes:
“Bent” or “flattened” tones lying
outside traditional European-based
scale structures; tones that reflect
particular African American melodic characteristics
A musical genre that emerged in
black communities of the Deep
South–especially the region from
the Mississippi Delta to East Texas–
sometime around the end of the
nineteenth century
classic blues
Blues written by professional
songwriters and performed by
professional female blues singers
such as Bessie Smith and Ma
country blues
(also referred
to as “rural,”
or “folk”
Performed by sharecroppers and
laborers in the Mississippi Delta and
East Texas; developed from an oral
tradition, in which versions of a
song were passed down from
generation to generation, learned by
ear and carried in memory. Country
blues performers were usually
itinerant musicians who traveled the
“hillbilly” or
Music that was performed by and
mainly intended for sale to southern
whites. It developed mainly out of
the folk songs, ballads, and dance
music of immigrants from the
British Isles. It was later
rechristened “country and western
music? or simply “country music.”
A region of fertile land that
stretches some two hundred miles
along the river, from Memphis,
Tennessee, in the North to
Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the South.
In the nineteenth century, the Delta
had been the site of some of the
most intensive cotton farming in the
Deep South, and home to one of the largest populations of slaves in
North America. Most scholars agree
that the folk blues first emerged in
the Mississippi Delta.
race records
Recordings of performances by
African American musicians
produced mainly for sale to African
American listeners.
The standard form of a blues song:
a twelve-bar structure made up of
three phrases of four bars each; a
basic three-chord pattern; and a
three-line AAB text