THE YEARS SPANNING the turn of the century are considered the period in which the United States emerged as a modern, global power. The Spanish-American War put an end to the Monroe Doctrine of 1824, in which the United States vowed not to meddle in the business of other empires with territories in the Western Hemisphere. Taking the side of Cubans and Filipinos seeking liberation from Spanish rule and responding to what was commonly (although mistakenly) believed to be a Spanish attack on a US warship stationed in Cuba, the United States declared war on Spain in June 1898. Following US victories in the Pacific and Caribbean, in December the two nations signed the Treaty of Paris, in which the United States acquired Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. The Spanish-American War changed attitudes about the United States and its role in the world, and the new perception of the country influenced the arts and culture.

Equally influential on music and society was the United States' new relationship with the Caribbean islands following the war. The immigrants that began to stream into the country introduced musical styles that were unknown to most Americans. In addition to immigrants from the Caribbean, soaring numbers of immigrants from other countries—especially from Eastern Europe—injected newness and variety into the American cultural landscape, and the migration of large numbers of African Americans, Mexicans, and working-class whites from the South and Southwest to northern US cities expanded the palette of musical styles and tastes.

"Take me out to the ball game" coverNew technology especially contributed to the modernization of life and led to an increased amount of leisure time, which more Americans spent by entertaining themselves with music, either learning it or listening to it. This was the era of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" (1908), when recreation was a national pastime. More money was spent on musical instruction, and opportunities for amateur music-making were prevalent. Several permanent professional orchestras were established in the first half of the twentieth century. These organizations appeared in San Francisco in 1911, Los Angeles in 1919, Seattle in 1926, Kansas City in 1934, and in other cities across the nation.

These years also saw the rise of progressive politics as a response to the struggles introduced by modernization. As labor unions amassed greater power, as women fought for and won the right to vote, as large monopolies were split into smaller companies, and as a federal income tax was introduced, music spread awareness, brought people together, and influenced the debates about the structure of society.

In the early decades of this period, sheet music was still the musical medium of choice for most consumers who desired music in their homes. In the 1890s, control of the popular music industry was secured by a handful of publishers collectively known as "Tin Pan Alley," which earned its moniker from the numerous tinny pianos that could be heard plunking out songs on 28th Street in Manhattan, where most of the publishers were located. In the first decades of the twentieth century the big business of music publishing got even bigger. In 1913 Billboard magazine first printed the weekly tabulation of music sales, and although Billboard measures recording (not sheet music) sales today, Billboard's numbers remain the accepted measure of success.

Because Tin Pan Alley firms only published songs that they believed would sell in large numbers, the themes of these songs were based on what was popular, covering a wide array of topics, usually relating to current events and often in an amusing way. Whatever the theme, publishers quickly concluded that the public wanted familiar songs and new songs in a familiar style. In the 1890s the most popular style was still the waltz, a dance style in three (as in "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" or Charles K. Harris's "After the Ball"). By the second decade of the twentieth century, however, these styles had been supplanted by the newer style of ragtime.

Ragtime's origins are unclear, but it likely extends from syncopated styles of playing the banjo, a descendent of an African instrument brought to the Western Hemisphere by the enslaved (see VAT, Unit 1). Whatever its origins, in the 1890s the piano music of Black composer Scott Joplin (1868–1917) firmly established syncopation and march-like tempos in duple meter as the characteristic features of the style. Ragtime was named for the Black practice of raising a handkerchief (or rag) in the air to signal a dance and was first introduced at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. With its African American associations, ragtime came to symbolize to white listeners the "spirit of social liberation" evident in the loosened morality of the "gay nineties." The influence of ragtime became apparent in much of era's music, but it had a particularly significant impact on Tin Pan Alley songs. Increasingly, the word "ragtime" began creeping into the titles of songs, such as Irving Berlin's "Alexander's Ragtime Band" (1911), to capitalize on the popular trend.

In addition to being performed in the home, Tin Pan Alley music was often performed on the vaudeville stage. Vaudeville shows were variety entertainments featuring multiple acts (the most typical number of acts was nine), many but not all of which were musical. White performers would travel and perform on the "vaudeville circuit," a national network of theaters owned by the Keith-Albee organization. Vaudeville provided a creative environment where working class ethnic groups could explore cultural differences and societal hierarchies. Often this would be expressed in a humorous manner, as performers from diverse backgrounds poked fun at Irish, Asian, German (or "Dutch"), Italian, and even Swedish immigrants, as well as indigenous Americans in such songs as "I'm an Indian" (1921). These songs reveal social reactions to immigrants and minorities while also documenting criticisms and emerging stereotypes.

A separate theatrical circuit, run by the Theater Owners Booking Association, existed for Black artists. It is here that many listeners outside of the Mississippi Delta first encountered blues music. An important figure in bringing the blues out of the Delta and transforming it from an oral, folk tradition into a mainstream style of popular music was W. C. Handy, who issued the first published blues song, "Memphis Blues," in 1912 and the immensely popular "St. Louis Blues" two years later. The performers who popularized this style of the blues—referred to today as classic blues—on the Black vaudeville circuit (and through recordings) were most often female performers, known as the "blues queens," such as Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey, and Bessie Smith.

Ziegfeld Follies posterMusical theater provided an important diversion for Americans. In addition to vaudeville, the Broadway theater district in New York City emerged as the focal point for American musicals. Lavish revues such as Ziegfeld Follies, begun in 1907, and "extravaganzas" were especially fashionable. These became important venues for composers to showcase their newest songs. Jerome Kern (1885–1945) helped transform the musical stage with his "musical plays," which featured credible story lines about middle-class America. Because of his popularity, Kern received the highest annual income for songwriting alone of any American composer of the day. Some of the songs from these musicals entered into the mainstream of American life. Kern's "Old Man River" from Show Boat (1927), for example, has become a classic, independent of the musical for which it was composed.

As they had with ragtime, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway composers began to write in the blues style, introducing it to a wider audience. For example, Kern's "Left All Alone Again Blues" (1920) is about a woman whose husband travels for business. Some songs referred to the blues without utilizing the blues conventions, as in "Everybody's Crazy 'Bout Them Doggone Blues But I'm Happy," a song from the Ziegfeld Follies of 1917.

Like ragtime, the early history of jazz is unclear. In the South, particularly New Orleans, the style developed out of the Black marching band tradition of performing for funerals. While most processions to a funeral were accompanied by hymns, the return home was accompanied by livelier music. Louis Armstrong, the legendary jazz trumpet player, received instruction from one of the first jazz musicians in New Orleans, Joseph Nathan Oliver, better known as King Oliver. In the 1910s, a number of nightclubs in Chicago and New York began featuring jazz bands with artists such as Oliver and Armstrong, who had moved north, and in New York in 1917 the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made some of the first jazz recordings. The "Jazz Age," as the 1920s would come to be known, had begun.

The expansion of the radio and recording industries in the 1920s exposed more Americans to more musics, particularly those that, like the blues, originated in regional, ethnic, and racial communities outside of the mainstream. The plurality of styles that emerged and became popular in this period reflect changes in demographics, migratory patterns, regional cultures, and social hierarchies that emerged in response to the political, economic, and technological forces of modernization. Within this context of change, popular music continued to sustain, entertain, and provide an outlet for voicing opinions about the challenges and triumphs of the modern age, and the emergence of different and varied styles of music set a precedent for songwriting that would continue through the current day.

Following the California Gold Rush, immigrants from Asia, especially China, arrived on the West Coast in search of wealth. Although the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 greatly reduced the number of Chinese entering the country, by the time it became law there was already a sizeable population living in America. Moreover, following the 1898 annexation of Hawaii, hundreds of thousands of Japanese began to move to the West Coast, and sizable Filipino populations moved to Hawaii to take their place on plantations.

Meanwhile, throughout the nineteenth century more and more Americans were exposed to Asian music through published transcriptions, studies conducted by missionaries and scholars, and approximations of it in classical music, mainly opera. From these, popular-song composers extrapolated musical stereotypes to represent Asians and Asian Americans, which they combined with the conventions of minstrelsy, which was the primary musical theatrical genre of representing otherness in America. According to scholar Krystyn Moon,

  In general, songwriters, in combining Chinese transcriptions, African American music, and Orientalist operas, used a set number of devices to denote musical Otherness. To a certain extent, these signifiers had been in use since the late eighteenth century as part of the construction of the "Orient," but many were new and related to phenomena particular to the United States. First, syncopation and dissonance found in Orientalist operas and African American music appeared in many Tin Pan Alley songs. Composers also used sounds that were not found on a twelve-note, tempered scale to depict Chinese subjects. Finally, American songwriters added Chinese musical instruments, repetitive and droning rhythms, and pentatonicisms from transcriptions of "real" Chinese music (the latter two were also found in Orientalist operas) to their repertoire. In the end, these specific devices allowed songwriters to express racial differences and to find new modes of expression. (pp. 94–95)

Although Moon is writing specifically about musical representations of China and the Chinese, the devices she specifies were often used to depict all Asians.

In the 1890s, immigrants from southern and eastern Europe began to arrive in the United States in large numbers. Many of these immigrants were Jews escaping persecution or working-class people searching for employment. An influx of Russian Jews led to the accumulation of more than a million Jews in New York City alone, making up more than a quarter of the population. Many of these immigrants and their children, such as Irving Berlin and Al Jolson, became songwriters, lyricists, and performers for Tin Pan Alley and shaped the development of popular song in America for years to come.

Vernon & Irene CastleThe increased number of immigrants from the Caribbean islands who began moving to the United States in the late nineteenth century contributed to the popularization of songs featuring the rhythms of the habanera and tango, such as "Tú" (1892) by Cuban musician Eduardo Sánchez de Fuentes. The tango features the same meter and tempo as the habanera and often the same underlying bass rhythm. A style popular in the nineteenth century in Argentina and Uraguay, the tango was first brought by travelers in the early 1910s to Paris, where the popularity of the dance became known as "tangomania." Tangomania soon found its way to the United States, where it was one of the new ballroom dances—along with the foxtrot and grizzly bear—popularized by dancers Vernon and Irene Castle in the 1910s. As the morals of the Victorians were shed and the "cultural revolution" was on, such wild dances became extremely popular, along with suggestive gyrations ("ballin' the jack") and frequent bumps and grinds. Whereas earlier popular songs were often based on the rhythms of the waltz, composers now found that they could adapt to many different kinds of dances. Even W. C. Handy uses the tango rhythm in the accompaniment in the third strain of "St. Louis Blues."

While Tin Pan Alley, blues, and jazz were dominating the national music industry, many regional styles existed that would come to exert an influence on mainstream popular culture. In the Southwest, much of which was part of Mexico until 1848, the influence of Mexican music is particularly notable. In the mid-1800s the narrative ballad, or corrido, became an important vehicle for telling stories about culture and history in the border region, and the genre became especially popular following the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Another border style is conjunto norteño, also known as Tex-Mex, which features the accordion, which was brought to the region by Czech and German immigrants, as well as the bajo sexto, a Mexican guitar with twelve strings.

In 1902 the US government enacted the National Reclamation Act, which assisted irrigation in the West, opened new lands for farming, and led to a wave of Mexican immigrants looking for work on farms. The immigration of Mexicans accelerated after the turbulent Mexican Revolution of 1910 and then again during the First World War. With many American men serving in the military, the United States and Mexico formally agreed to allow Mexican migrants to cross the border to work on farms, in factories, and in the railroad industry. Many songs, including "El Corrido Pensilvanio" and "El Corrido de Texas," (VAT Unit 7) document the challenges that the migrants faced, particularly their desire to escape violence and mistreatment in the South for better opportunities in the North.

One reaction to escalating immigration was an increase in patriotic sentiments. The Pledge of Allegiance became popular and millions of school children began to recite it soon after it was first published in 1892. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson declared in an executive order that "The Star-Spangled Banner" (VAT Unit 3) was the national anthem, and in 1931 Congress passed legislation making Wilson's order official.

As America became increasingly pluralistic, Tin Pan Alley songs reflected new encounters, as in "Just Like a Gipsy" [sic] (1919). Another reaction was to poke fun at the immigrants, as in the song "The Argentines, the Portuguese, and the Greeks." Other songs cautioned against immigrants taking over the country. "Don't Bite the Hand That's Feeding You" (1915) is one example of advice passed on to the newest immigrants:

  If you don't like your Uncle Sammy,
Then go back to your home o'er the sea
To the land from where you came,
Whatever be its name;
But don't be ungrateful to me!
If you don't like the stars in Old Glory,
If you don't like the Red, White and Blue,
Then don't act like the cur in the story
Don't bite the hand that's feeding you.

Outside of the popular publishing industry, songs documented the realistic life of the immigrants, along with their suffering. "He Lies in the American Land" (1900) tells the tale of a Hungarian steel worker.

If they ever put a tax on lovePrior to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Panic of 1893 was the most severe economic downturn in United States history. Populism had been gaining traction in the early 1890s, but the Panic caused many to embrace the Populist Party's platform of bimetalism (increasing the money supply by abandoning the Gold Standard and backing the dollar with both silver and gold), bank regulation, a progressive income tax, labor regulations, and limitations on immigration to protect jobs for "Americans." In 1896 the Democratic Party nominated populist William Jennings Bryan for president. Bryan lost to Republican William McKinley, but his campaign established the priorities for much of the progressive action of the next several decades.

One piece of progressive legislation established the federal income tax in 1913. The Tin Pan Alley song "If They Ever Put a Tax On Love" (1918) complained about its implementation:

  There's a tax on sugar
And there's a little tax on honey
Why they even tax your money
It seems so funny when they tax your honey and your money too
There's a tax on letters soon there'll be a tax on stars above
Broadway farmers will be out of place,
'Cause there'll be no chickens there to chase.
Goodbye forever if they ever put a tax on love.

Unionization and the fight for workers' rights were other components of progressivism. Although Tin Pan Alley patently ignored the controversial topic of labor, the unionization effort led by the Industrial Workers of the World encouraged their members to "Sing and Fight!" Without famous songwriters and lyricists on their side, the Wobblies, as they were known, produced many of their own songbooks based on existing tunes to inspire their workers to unionize.
IWW Little Red Song book
The most legendary of their songwriting advocates was Joe Hill (1879–1915), who served as secretary for the local I. W. W. In 1914 he was arrested and charged with murder, a charge that remains questionable today. After a trial characterized by confusion, Hill was executed by a firing squad in 1915. The night before his death he told his fellow workers, "Don't waste time mourning. Organize!" These last words became a rallying cry for the American labor movement, and Hill became a martyr and folk hero.

Many of Hill's songs appeared in the Industrial Workers of the World's Little Red Song Book: Songs to Fan the Flame of Discontent (1911), in which most of the songs deal with workers' issues in a humorous fashion with a Marxist bent. This songbook was popular because of its content, as well as the fact that it was small enough to be carried in one's pocket. One of Hill's most enduring songs is "Pie In the Sky," a harsh criticism of the Salvation Army and other "do-gooders" who would calm the workers into submission and derail the Wobblie's efforts to organize unemployed immigrants, hobos, and migrant laborers. It was sung to the tune of "In the Sweet By and By":

  You will eat by and by
In that glorious land above the sky
(Way up high)
Work and pray, live on hay
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.

The rise of heavy industry and child labor inspired many original songs that document the oppressive conditions of factories. Ella May Wiggins wrote songs inspired by her life as a factory worker. One of them, "Mill Mother's Lament," speaks of her nine children, four of whom died of whooping cough because she had been unable to afford medication.

  We leave our homes in the morning
We kiss our children goodbye
While we slave for the bosses
Our children scream and cry.

Wiggins was killed by an armed company mob during a strike at a textile mill in Gastonia, North Carolina, on September 14, 1929.

The women's movement (today referred to as First Wave Feminism; see VAT Unit 8) continued to focus on temperance and also increasingly on women's suffrage. The Temperance Movement culminated in the 18th Amendment (passed in 1918 and ratified in 1919), which prohibited the manufacture, transportation, and sale of alcohol. The blues style was an excellent backdrop for songs about prohibition. Whereas in the latter part of the nineteenth century popular sentimental ballads waged an emotional battle against drinking, now they "groaned" about life without alcohol. Songs in favor of prohibition were balanced by those that were against it, like "Prohibition Blues," a song in the minstrel style featuring characteristic dialect:

  Oh! My brothers and sisters, listen to what I say
By nineteen twenty dere'll be no booze sold in the U.S.A.
De whole country am a goin' bone dry,
Prohibition am de battle cry,
'Scuse me while I shed a tear,
For good old whiskey, gin and beer.
Goodbye forever, goodbye forever
Ah got de Prohibition, Prohibition, Prohibition Blues.

Suffragists often turned to popular patriotic and religious tunes for inspiration. For example, "Suffrage Song" (1913), with words by an anonymous author, indicates that it is "to be sung to the tune of 'America'":

  My country 'tis of thee,
To make your women free,
This is our plea.
High have our hopes been raised
In these enlightened days,
That for her justice, praised
Our land might be.

She's Good Enough to Be Your Baby's MotherSongs about voting rights were commonly set to familiar music throughout the history of the struggle for women's suffrage. This was especially useful when teaching songs to large groups of demonstrators.

Although many of the songs in support of women's suffrage were self-published or published by regional publishers, Tin Pan Alley firms issued some songs that addressed the movement. For example, in 1916 Jerome H. Remick & Co. published "She's Good Enough to Be Your Baby's Mother," with words by Alfred Bryan and music by Herman Paley. The chorus is supportive of the movement:

  She's good enough to love you and adore you,
She's good enough to bear your troubles for you;
And if your tears were falling today,
Nobody else would kiss them away
She’s good enough to warm your heart with kisses
When you are lonesome and blue.
She's good enough to be your baby's mother
And she's good enough to vote with you!

Following the 18th Amendment and the 19th Amendment (1920), which gave women the right to vote, the women's movement subsided until a new wave gained momentum in the 1960s as new generations took up a new set of women's causes (see VAT, Unit 9).

In the years following the end of Reconstruction in 1877, state governments in the South instituted oppressive laws that restricted the right to vote and instated segregation. These laws became known as the Jim Crow Laws, taking their name from Thomas D. Rice's song "Jump Jim Crow" (see VAT, Unit 3), which portrayed African Americans in a demeaning manner. In 1896, the Supreme Court upheld segregation in its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, establishing "separate but equal" as doctrine throughout the nation.

The blues, in which a singer typically laments his or her condition or situation, is a style that lends itself to addressing the effects of discrimination. Unlike spirituals, which express a communal longing for emancipation, blues songs reflect the African American focus on the individual that followed emancipation. Songs performed by the classic blues singers often touch on the personal effects of poverty, hunger, substance abuse, and infidelity.

By focusing on individual struggles, the classic blues singers indirectly critiqued discrimination, but only rarely did they directly criticize broader social structures. One song that does this, however, is Bessie Smith's "Poor Man's Blues," which critiques wealth inequality and calls on the rich to help the poor. The song argues that the poor deserve this help because they fought in the First World War. In the fourth and fifth verses, Smith sings,

  All man fought all the battles
All man would fight again today
All man fought all the battles
All man would fight again today
He would do anything you ask him
In the name of the U. S. A.

Now the war is over
All man must live the same as you
Now the war is over
All man must live the same as you
If it wasn't for the poor man
Mister Rich Man what would you do?

The blues is a uniquely African American artform. In contrast to the music of the mainstream popular music industry (Tin Pan Alley), classic blues songs often include sexual—even homosexual—content. This reflects the fact that African Americans, politically and economically restricted by Jim Crow Laws, experienced sexual liberation prior to other forms of liberation following emancipation. It also extends from the fact that African American art was less confined by social codes of behavior and etiquette. One song that alludes to lesbianism is "Prove It On Me Blues," written by Ma Rainey:

  Went out last night with a crowd of my friends,
They must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men.
It's true I wear a collar and a tie,
Makes the wind blow all the while
Don't you say I do it, ain't nobody caught me
You sure got to prove it on me.

To escape the Jim Crow South, in the 1890s hundreds of thousands of African Americans began to move to the North (as did many other southerners), initiating a decades-long migratory event known as the Great Migration. Even in the North, however, African Americans faced discrimination as they were frequently passed over for jobs and denied equal access to housing. Unable to live wherever they wanted, large urban communities of African Americans emerged in such areas as the South Side of Chicago and Harlem in New York City.

shuffle AlongBlacks in these areas brought musical styles from the South, including jazz and blues, and took them in new directions. Harlem, home to many writers, artists, and musicians of all stripes (from jazz musicians to classical composers), was an especially important center for Black culture, and the period of great artistic production there after World War I is known as the Harlem Renaissance. Many Harlem artists participated in the first African American musical on Broadway, Shuffle Along (1921), which introduced many white New Yorkers to blues and jazz. The popularity of the musical helped make Harlem jazz clubs such as the Cotton Club, where Duke Ellington performed, and Connie's Inn, where Fats Waller played, increasingly popular destinations for whites in the 1920s.

In this decade Jazz was in transition. Louis Armstrong, for example, made famous recordings in the older New Orleans style with his Hot Five and Hot Seven between 1925 and 1928, but in these years he also played with the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra, a band that, along with the Duke Ellington and Paul Whiteman orchestras, helped usher in the rage for big band and swing music that dominated the 1930s and early 1940s. Moreover, in Harlem such pianists as James P. Johnson and Willie "The Lion" Smith were developing a new style of jazz piano playing, called stride, in which the left hand regularly alternated a low bass line with a mid-range chord while the right hand played syncopated melodies and improvisations. Fats Waller's musicals especially broadened the appeal of the style, luring many white listeners to Harlem to hear songs such as "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Ain't Misbehavin'."

In addition to blues and jazz, gospel emerged as an important musical style in African American churches at this time. In perhaps his most famous book, The Souls of Black Folk (1903), black intellectual W. E. B. DuBois wrote,

  In the South, at least, practically every American Negro is a church member. Some, to be sure, are not regularly enrolled, and a few do not habitually attend services; but, practically, a proscribed people must have a social centre, and that centre for this people is the Negro church. (DuBois, p. 194)

Indeed, churches took on new significance as social institutions for African Americans following the end of Reconstruction in 1877, when "Jim Crow" laws were implemented—especially in the South but also in the North—to impose segregation, restrict voting rights, and slow or halt the integration of the African American community into America's dominant social, professional, and civic life.

In this context Black churches were what DuBois called "governments of men," where "one can see … , reproduced in microcosm, all that great world from which the Negro is cut off by color-prejudice and social condition." He explained,

  A great church like the Bethel of Philadelphia has over eleven hundred members, an edifice seating fifteen hundred persons and valued at one hundred thousand dollars, an annual budget of five thousand dollars, and a government consisting of a pastor with several assisting local preachers, an executive and legislative board, financial boards and tax collectors; general church meetings for making laws; subdivided groups led by class leaders, a company of militia, and twenty-four auxiliary societies. The activity of a church like this is immense and far-reaching, and the bishops who preside over these organizations throughout the land are among the most powerful Negro rulers in the world. (p. 194)

Charles Albert Tindley (1851–1933), a former slave and minister in Philadelphia, was the first African American composer and lyricist to write popular gospel songs. The texts he wrote built on the tradition of the spiritual; such songs as "We'll Understand It Better By and By" (1905) spoke especially to the poor and needy, to whom he often ministered, and offered hope.

Although the First World War broke out in Europe in 1914, most Americans supported pacifism in its early years. Such sentiments are expressed in the Tin Pan Alley song "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" (1915), a song that inspired other songs both for and against the war. Following German violations and threats, America entered the war in 1917 and Tin Pan Alley songwriters wrote songs that paralleled the changing public opinions about the war, as in the song "We Didn't Want to Fight but By Golly Now We Do!" (1917).

Once America became militarily engaged, many songwriters penned songs that helped further fuel the country's patriotic furor. George M. Cohan, for example, was one such songwriter. His fame had been launched in 1904 when his musical Little Johnny Jones premiered on Broadway. His hits, such as "Yankee Doodle Boy" (1904) and "You're a Grand Old Flag" (1906), expressed their patriotism through their lyrics and march rhythms (associated with US military bands) and syncopated rhythms (associated with American styles such as ragtime). Cohan also uses these conventions in what is perhaps the most enduring song of the First World War, "Over There," which he wrote in 1917.

The war also inspired Tin Pan Alley songwriters to write songs that illustrated the war in humanistic terms. Irving Berlin wrote an entire musical show, Yip, Yip, Yaphank (1918), based on life in the army, which was intended to increase morale in the barracks. Portraying the misery of army life in comical terms, it featured the still popular "Oh, How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning." Other humorous songs were similarly prompted by Americans' need to deal with the terrible realities of war, including "How 'Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down on the Farm?" or "Mademoiselle from Armentieres (Hinky, Dinky, Parley Voo)," and "You're in the Army Now." Many songs had an upbeat tempo and were set to a marching rhythm, so that men could march to war singing them, as in "It's a Long Way to Tipperary," "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag (and Smile, Smile, Smile)," and "Goodbye Broadway, Hello France."

Other songwriters responded to the war by writing songs filled with nostalgia and yearning. Songs such as "Moonlight Bay" and "I Want a Girl, Just Like the Girl (That Married Dear Old Dad)" recalled the former days of peace and tranquility prior to the war. Songs such as "Till We Meet Again" and "If I'm Not at the Roll Call (Kiss Mother 'Goodbye' For Me)" expressed the desire to reunite with loved ones after the war. The themes of these songs were repeated in World War II, sometimes with more creativity.

Between the Civil War and World War I, not many African Americans served in the Army. Those that did, however, played a significant role. The "Buffalo Soldiers," as the four regiments stationed in the American West were called, protected travelers and settlers from criminals and attacks from indigenous Americans, and they also played an important part in the Spanish American War. (The Buffalo Soldiers came to serve as a powerful symbol of Black strength.) In the First World War, the number of African Americans in the Army swelled from around 10,000 to about 370,000. White politicians' fears that training Blacks in combat would pose a threat at home meant that very few African Americans fought in the war, but many served important supporting roles.

One Black unit that did see combat was the Army's 369th Infantry, known as the Harlem Hell Fighters. The leader of the 369th's band was James Reese Europe, who prior to the war had served as bandleader for the ensemble that accompanied dancers Vernon and Irene Castle. In World War I, the 369th US Infantry Regiment Band introduced French audiences to new American styles, including the foxtrot, blues, and jazz. After the war Europe's band and the whole regiment returned as heroes. The band toured the United States and issued recordings that helped popularize jazz, but Europe was tragically murdered before the tour's completion.

Tin Pan Alley capitalized on the latest technological innovations. The enjoyment of flying in airplanes is heard in "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine," while "Lindbergh, The Eagle of the U.S.A." reflects the historical importance of his famous flight. The problematic side of owning a car was reflected in "He'd Have to Get Under (Get Out and Get Under) to Fix Up His Automobile," while the joys of driving are advertised in "My Merry Oldsmobile." Composed to generate interest in the Oldsmobile, this may have been the first use of a popular song as a commercial. Walter O'Keefe's "Henry's Made a Lady Out of Lizzie" was not commissioned by Henry Ford, yet similarly documents the important technological improvements in the new model.

What'll We Do on a Saturday Night (When the Town Goes Dry)Moving pictures, recently brought into commercial use, inspired "Take Your Girlie to the Movies" (1919) and Irving Berlin's "At the Picture Show" (1913). The sheet music for "What'll We Do On a Saturday Night (When the Town Goes Dry)" (1919), features an illustration on the front of a young man purchasing a ticket to a cinema, implying that he's taking his date to a movie instead of a nightclub.

The invention of the telephone in 1876 and its increasing acceptance into daily life spawned several songs that capitalized on the sentimental value of the telephone. Charles K. Harris's "Hello Central, Get Me Heaven" (1901) is a tear-jerker ballad about a little girl who uses the telephone to try to call her recently deceased mother. A later but similar song, titled "We Want Our Daddy Dear, Back Home (Hello Central, Give Me France)" (1918), has the little girl calling her father in France during the First World War.

The invention of phonograph records and radio had a tremendous impact as people were given opportunities to listen to more kinds of music. Commercial radio appeared in 1920 with stations initially in Pittsburgh and Detroit. Although almost entirely dependent on live programming, it was so popular that by 1922 there were 500 stations all over the country. Like the phonograph record, radios soon became a standard feature in homes as local radio stations broadcast records during the day when reception was limited to short distances. Eventually the popularity of radio, and its free distribution of music, resulted in a decline in the purchase of sheet music and phonograph records.

The radio industry rapidly insinuated itself into popular culture as it stimulated new Tin Pan Alley songs. The popular "Hello Central, Get Me Heaven" was the inspiration for "I Wish There Was a Wireless to Heaven (The Radio Song)," which appeared in 1922, as well as "I'll Telegraph My Mother in Heaven." The presence of radios in most homes led to the romantic "A Bungalow, A Radio, and You! (A Fox Trot Song)" in 1928.

Record producers steered musical tastes by determining what would be recorded and making great efforts to market specific musical styles. Early on, record companies emphasized art music such as opera, but record-purchasing audiences were quick to demonstrate that they wanted to hear other genres too. White listeners bought blues and jazz records, and record producers changed their tactics. They began looking for artists to feed the increasing demands for different types of popular songs and ethnic music.

The era saw a growing awareness of the ethnic and regional varieties of American music. As the country continued to grow, people isolated in various regions developed their own distinctive styles of singing and playing. The recording industry quickly found that ethnic records—songs from the home countries of millions of immigrants—were extremely profitable. They recorded many collections of Irish, Hungarian, Polish, and Italian songs as remembered by recent immigrants.

In an attempt to continue to capitalize on these kinds of markets, record producers sought out other non-traditional singers. This led many recording entrepreneurs to explore the southern states, particularly the Piedmont region, otherwise known as the Appalachians. Originally known commercially as "hillbilly music," country music grew out of this regional music to become a profitable industry, with local artists singing their own music in their own style. Along the way, record producers of the 1920s discovered many important artists who had a profound impact on the development of country music, such as Fiddlin' John Carson, Uncle Dave Macon, Jimmie Rodgers, and the Carter Family. "Pop-up" recording studios were often set up in hotel rooms, churches, or radio stations not only in the Appalachians but also in California and Texas, where record companies made some of the first commercial recordings of music by Mexican Americans, including historic corridos and other popular Hispanic songs.

The discovery of regional music by record companies paralleled the increased scholarly study and documentation of folk songs. Influenced by Francis Child's and Cecil Sharp's collection of folk music from the British isles, Americans such as John Lomax began transcribing and publishing American folk songs. Later, encouraged by advancements in portable recording technology, American folklorists began traveling throughout the United States to record songs. These studies further increased Americans' knowledge of the musics of the nation, including Hispanic music in the West and Southwest, as well as folk styles of the South and Southeast. These recordings eventually led to the founding in 1928 of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, of which Lomax became curator in 1933 (see VAT, Unit 7).

Although white Americans had long been fascinated with Native peoples (see "Blue Juniata," VAT, Unit 3), in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries popular culture treated them as subjects to an unprecedented degree. Tin Pan Alley composers wrote songs about them, and cowboys and Indians fought battles in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. This is in part a result of the closing of the frontier. As the Wild West was settled and tamed, indigenous peoples were seen as nearing extinction, and thus their culture was often romanticized and their loss lamented. At the same time, federal policy toward Natives shifted from the aim of eradicating them toward assimilating them. The first major policy shift was the Dawes Act of 1889, which broke up reservations and gave Natives individual plots of land. During the decades in which the policy was debated, implemented, and contested, indigenous Americans received a lot of attention in the press.

In most of their representations in popular culture, indigenous Americans were depicted in stereotypes, however researchers were also beginning to undertake serious study of their culture. Alice Fletcher transcribed, recorded, and analyzed thousands of songs sung by the indigenous people of the Great Plains, for example. Inspired by Fletcher's work, Francis Densmore studied the music of indigenous Americans across the continent, issuing sixteen monographs on the music of individual nations between 1910 and 1957.

Although these studies helped document and preserve important elements of their culture, Native peoples continued to be harshly oppressed. With the conclusion of the Plains Wars, the US government shifted from a policy of defeating Native peoples in battle to a policy of assimilating those who survived into mainstream society and erasing Native cultures. Reservations were reduced in size, the Oklahoma territory was transformed from a Native American territory into a state, and families were split up so children could be sent to schools where they were educated in "American" culture. In this period the government also suppressed powwows, which dated to the mid-1800s among the Plains nations. In defiance of these efforts, in the 1920s powwows, featuring drumming, dancing, and singing, became important intertribal celebrations of indigenous cultures. Although they were relatively isolated events at this time, they set the stage for powwows to emerge as powerful social and political events after the Second World War.


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