American Music

Music over the course of American history has changed dramatically in every century from the beginning with Native American music, to the influences of Europe from the pilgrims, and their style of worship to the emergence of America finding its own identity with composers, musicians, and music of their own. In the 19th century music begin to change in America from the forms of church dominated with hymns, psalms, and devotionals to more secular music with concerts, minstrel, opera performances, and other musical changes.

During the progression into the 19th century, the church was becoming more secularized with the music and teachings of “the father of public school teaching”. (Crawford, pg., 139) In this time, Lowell Mason was taking the standard psalmody and hymnody of the old church and transforming them into a better sound, from the traditional professional choral of the church to congregational singing. In songs like the “Olivet” and “Joy to the World” Lowell begin to change the way sacred music within America was being heard and song. A movement in the south changed the way gospel and church music would be song, spirituals, and ring shouts such as “Jubilee” help the southern revivalism.


American Music

Song 2: Old Hundred

  • 1560’s French Calvinist Psalms song, sung by Americans and English in the European colonies
  • Ainsworth claimed that the basic melody is what makes Old Hundred a western classic
  • Used in Protestant worship today as Doxology; taken from the Bible Psalms 100.
  • Another piece that can be associated with The Sacred Harp from 16th as well.
  • Psalmody singing as part of their Christian religion
  • The tune is always the same even with different lyrics

Song 3: Chester by Billings

  • The rhythmic melodies, with a tonic chord help to build the patriotic anthem; Protestant Psalms
  • A patriotic theme as a symbol of War of Independence for the American Revolution
  • Hymns, or Spiritual genre
  • Through the use of rhythmic patterns of the chords used in broadside ballets
  • The lack of artistic polish, and strongly stressed syllables

Song 4: Sherburne by Daniel Read

  • Made by a American, as simple folk-like melodies, that were devotional pieces apart of the northern revivalism of hymnody music, Fuging Tone
  • Another hymnal piece that was used to typify a whole generation of Yankee Composers
  • hymnals, gospel
  • Trying to invoke the religious togetherness by singing psalms in one accord, spiritual folk music
  • The song uses “fuging tune” popular among psalmists and singers

Song 5: Ich will dir ein Freudenopfer (peter)

  • Music of the Moravians who were inspired by Beissel’s musical pieces that used various musical instruments unheard in religious music, strong religious hymns, and a simplified rhythm. Psalms
  • Most of his work was not published, the music was powerful and meant for just his community
  • Elaborate anthems and congregational hymns closely related to American Gospel
  • Evoking the spiritual folk music of its time
  • He would coordinate declamations and harmonies by placing accents on syllables, used for singing in a choral, Moravian anthem; triple meter through composed form

Song 9:  Hail Columbia – John Baldon

  • The patriotic and American theme, used in military concerts during wartime,
  • Used as a musical symbol of Union cause
  • Used with fiddles, drums, and other musical instruments. Broadside ballads.
  • It is recognizable by it acrobatic melody that leads to the elaborated cadence and patriotic melody from American folk or broadside ballads.

Song 10: Thanksgiving Anthem-Billings

  • Religious tones song with a Yankee choral work (Psalms)
  • Importance marked by Billings method Edification
  • Paraphrased biblical verses in order to focus on the people worshiping God, instead of directly worshiping God, gospel elements
  • Reform mode of edification with pleasing rhythm and harmony

Song 11: Olivet-Mason

  • Mason is the “father” of public church music; its melodies and hymnal verses struck within the American religious communities. Hymns
  • Embodies Tocqueville’s philosophy, one of the first used in educating the masses
  • He took the task of combining sacred and hymnal verses using European elements
  • Features a rhythmic motive that appears in five tunes of the seven phrases, and embodies the devotional style of spiritual hymns; hymnody of the northern revivalism

Song 12: Wondrous Love-Sacred Harp

  • Popular Southern folk hymn that swept across the south during the early and mid-21st Hymns
  • Deep spiritual devotional hymns sung by mostly southern religious followers
  • It is closely related to the Gospel Genre of today
  • It evokes the melodic rhythm of tying all the great black gospel singers such as Mahilia Jackson and others
  • Its distinct repetition of the first lyrics three times, soulful edification infused in their rhythm that is still heard in gospel genre today

Song 14: Old Dan Tucker-Emmett

  • Minstrel song during the antebellum period, popular American song
  • Performed by the black faced minstrel troupe that travel throughout the south
  • A combination of rhythm and text declamation, simple harmony and melody
  • Planted roots for modern Bluegrass and country
  • Different from past minstrel music, dance song with voice introduction and a breakdown in cadence, unlike others develops harmony and rhythm together.

Song 15: Camptown Races-Foster

  • Popular Minstrel song, turned American tradition song during the Civil War
  • Uses a variety of rhythmic changes accompanied by the sound of a banjo
  • Closely related to the bluegrass genre
  • Comedic song that gave performers the ability to hold longer notes, minstrel-folk songs
  • Lyrical melody and harmonic idiom

Song 16: Papageno Polka- Foster

  • Popular American Parlor Piano Music, sheet music used during the Civil War
  • Taken from potpourri composition, orchestral work
  • Opera and Orchestra music genres
  • Evoke potpourris which sample all the popular themes of that period.
  • Based on melodies from the character of Magic Flute, Papageno

Song 17: Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair-Foster

  • Lighter sound that influences the patriotic spirit; parlor song about separation, and yearning
  • Parlor song; love song written about his wife.
  • Poetic, lyrical, romance music genre
  • The light, vapor sound melody that emphasizes on the dream like lyrical vocables

Song 20: Helene Schottische

  • Polka Tune imported from France made popular in America by way of New Orleans, played during the Antebellum Period,
  • old fashioned themed parlor music accompanied by a brass band
  • Related to the American Bass Band music genre
  • Used in military bands with the use of brass instruments, clarinets, and other loud instruments. Patriotic ballads, Civil War brass band dance
  • Loud brass band music that usually would give the wind instruments rest in their upbeat melody and rhythms

Song 21: The Banjo-Gottschalk

  • Made his American debut with the help of flutes, banjo, pianists, and singers. Piano show piece
  • Like Camptown, a sense of Americanism with big bands and American instruments
  • Banjo style, Square dancing, polka genres
  • American style of banjo that was used during the Antebellum Period
  • Changes the melody to signal the end of the song, uses Tres Rhythme to emphasize the different rhythm, pentatonic opening and closing scale measures

Song 22: Symphonic Sketches-Chadwick

  • American Symphonic music
  • Each of the four movements are painted as a scene from a book or work of art
  • Closely related to the classical music
  • It is essentially a poem made up four movements from different music genres
  • Distinctive sounds from bass instruments, holds in periods, melodies, and tempo changes, classical music

Song 25: War dance-Southern Plains Indians

  • Apart of American History of Native Americans,
  • They music is used in traditional pre-war ceremonies
  • Native Tribal music genre
  • Invoke emotions getting ready for war, a sense of patriotism and pride in the tribes
  • The use of drums, Native American instruments and voices, Powwow music

Song 26: Deep River

  • Spiritual Music from African American folk and religious hymns
  • Popular gospel songs, that had a slow but powerful melody and lyric made by African Americans infused with blues and spiritual sounds
  • Gospel genre, spiritual hymns
  • The melody, and the slow rhythm coupled with a harmonious tone meant to be song in a low baritone voice.

Song 11: Talk about Jesus-Dorsey

  • The American Aspect of the piece is rooted in its melded blend of religious themes and rhythmic blues
  • One of the earliest gospels song by an African American writer fused religious verses with jazz and blues
  • Jazz or Blues Genres
  • Took the message from the black congregation and embedded them in his songs with blues infusion
  • Distinctive is the music entirely different then earlier gospels songs, Rhythmic rubato tone against a steady beat; Gospel and spirituals influences

Postal Workers: University of Ghana Post Office “work song”

  • Work Song
  • Closely related to African spirituals or call and response
  • Performed during work; kept everyone on task and coordinated
  • This song is made by the noise the postal workers are making from canceling stamps and whistling to create the melody to an upbeat rhythm and harmony

Rock Island Line: sung by Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly)

  • Singer and guitarist; blues player
  • Work song; sung on the railroads
  • Blues/American Folk
  • Originally made by prison gangs, rearranged with narration into this blues rendition

Rock Island Line explained by Leadbelly to Alan Lomax

  • Leadbelly rearranged the original version of the prison gang work song
  • Blues rendition; laid back folk style narration
  • Explanation of the train stops and adds religious lyrics in the chorus

Bo Diddley: Guitars, shakers

  • Known as the Originator; African American rhythm and blues with the smooth transition from blues to rock
  • Blues genre: Rock genre
  • Style of heavy shakers, distinctive guitar t
  • one and reverberated hollering throughout.
  • Diddley Beat: rhythmic harmony from his guitar; popular today

Amazing Grace: Original

  • Three voice harmonization of the Hymn (Psalms)
  • Hymn Genre; Fuging Tones
  • Second Awakening; Most famous folk hymns

Amazing Grace2:  Lining–out in a Baptist church

  • African embrace of the hymn turned spiritual
  • Gospel genre : Shape Notes
  • Call and response during church lead by the pastor

Run, Old Jeremiah

  • African American spiritual : Ring Shouts
  • Old working song
  • using a West African dance pattern, where the performers shuffled single file, clapping out a complex counter-rhythm

Swing Low Sweet Chariot

  • African American Spiritual: Shape notes and Call and Response
  • Spiritual and Gospel Genre
  • Religious song : drawn out notes and long-meter hymns

Great Camp Meeting in the Promised Land: Fisk jubilee singers:

  • A capella rendition: Call and Response
  • Apart of African American Worship; Gospel and Spirituals
  • Ring shouts and Gospel genre
  • Old slave hymn embedded with code since they could not talk on the fields

Carry Me Back to Old Virginny-James Bland

  • Bluegrass instrumental Standard ; Minstrel folk song during the Civil War
  • Penned by James: African American, was sung in blackface
  • Minstrel styled song adopted by the state of Virginia

Oh Dem’ Golden Slippers: James Bland

  • Minstrel styled parody of Golden Slippers
  • Bluegrass and Brass Band genres
  • Plays in the Mummers Parade

Bert Williams: When the Moon Shines on the Moonshine

  • First black Vaudeville performer on Broadway
  • Made during the prohibition era, a part of the African American Musical Theater
  • Related to the Jazz and Pop(comedic) genres
  • Williams’ characteristic half-spoken, half-sung routine

Francis Johnson

  • African American bandleader and composer ; Dance band leader
  • Brass Band genre; minstrel genre, ballads, and patriotic marches
  • Trumpet, bugle, and other instruments; innovated the style singing while playing
  • Played in small cotillions with Strings and brass instruments and Militia concerts