Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Musical Styles -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    In its history, America's songs have been performed in many musical styles. Learn more about how these musical styles developed and listen to examples.

  • African American Gospel -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    African American Gospel music is a form of euphoric, rhythmic, spiritual music rooted in the solo and responsive church singing of the African American South. Its development coincided with -- and is germane to -- the development of rhythm and blues. Playlist Five recordings from Library of Congress collections Oh, Jonah! Performed by the Golden Jubilee Quartet. Recorded by Willis James, 1943. We are ...

  • The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    See and Hear American History Through Song "Know the songs of a country and you will know its history for the true feeling of a people speaks through what they sing." – Preface to The Songs of Henry Clay Work (1884) Listen to the changes in the "Star Spangled Banner" as played by different bands in different eras. Look at the ways in which ...

    • Date: 1581
  • Mapping the Songs of the Civil War -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Select the highlighted states on this map to view a selection of sheet music pertaining to people, places, or events associated with that state during the Civil War. This can include songs about military figures, battles and campaigns, regiments, and other state-related events or sentiments.

  • Shape Note Singing -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Nineteenth century American song books that used notes in different shapes to aid singers and teach singing came to be known as "shape-note hymnals" and the style of singing from these "shape-note singing." Christian hymnals using this system were among the most enduring uses of this notation. Among the most popular was The Sacred Harp by B. F. White, first published in Georgia in ...

  • Ritual and Worship -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Sacred music has been a vibrant part of American culture from the earliest sacred oral traditions of indigenous peoples through the written traditions of the first European colonists. With the settlement of the Plymouth, Massachusetts colony in 1620, sacred music played an important role in helping to define the cultural identity of the region of the New World that would become the United States. ...

  • Mapping the Songs of America -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Select any state on this map to find items pertaining to it. These may include songs about a state, songs written or recorded in a state, or songs composed by an artist associated with that state. Results can include sheet music, recordings, videos, and more.

  • The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    See and Hear American History Through Song "Know the songs of a country and you will know its history for the true feeling of a people speaks through what they sing." – Preface to The Songs of Henry Clay Work (1884) Listen to the changes in the "Star Spangled Banner" as played by different bands in different eras. Look at the ways in which ...

    • Date: 1581
  • Songs of Social Change -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Americans from the colonial period to the present day have often practiced their right to freedom of speech through song. American songs have called attention to social causes, both criticized and advocated governmental social policies, and provided a means of personal complaint on social issues. Songs are easily carried, demand attention, convey emotion, and can be performed in many contexts, with or without instrumentation, ...

  • Musicals -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    The Musical, like jazz, is a quintessentially American art form; and like our country, it has been forged from many influences: comic opera, operetta, English music hall, minstrel shows, vaudeville and others. Musicals are also among the most collaborative of the arts, forged by teams that typically include composers, lyricists, librettists, directors, performers, choreographers, orchestrators, producers, arrangers and designers. Playlist Five recordings from Library ...

  • 1759 to 1799 -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Cultural and historical events from 1759 to 1799 related to American song.

    • Date: 1759
  • Printable Timeline -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    1759 Songs of America Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791) sets to music Doctor Parnell's 'My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free' – America's earliest surviving secular composition. Culture Voltaire (1694-1778) writes his satirical masterpiece Candide My days have been so wondrous free [manuscript] 1760 In the News George III becomes King of England. 1761 Songs of America 'Young Johnny,' sung by Winifred Bundy. Recorded by Helene ...

  • Songs of Politics and Political Campaigns -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Elections provide opportunities for advocates of policies for social change and those favoring social stability to advocate their particular cause. Campaign songs and songs of political parties can help to spread particular points of view and build solidarity around candidates and platforms. Playlist for Politics and Political Campaigns Five recordings from Library of Congress collections explore patriotism and other political issues. National airs of ...

  • Art Song -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear; ... Singing, with open mouths, their strong melodious songs. -- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855) Playlist Five recordings from Library of Congress collections My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free The Francis Hopkinson composotion as performed on the Favorites from the Song of America Tour with Thomas Hampson, baritone, and Wolfram Rieger, piano. Recorded ...

  • Children's Songs -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Children's songs may include songs that adults sing or teach to children, songs children pass along to each other, and songs that children compose themselves. These distinctions are not always clear cut, however, as adults may teach children songs that they learned from other children in childhood, and children may pass along songs learned from adults to other children. Playlist Five recordings from Library ...

  • 1800 to 1849 -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Cultural and historical events from 1800 to 1849 related to American song.

    • Date: 1800
  • Spirituals -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    A spiritual is a type of religious folksong that is most closely associated with the enslavement of African people in the American South. The songs proliferated in the last few decades of the eighteenth century leading up to the abolishment of legalized slavery in the 1860s. The African American spiritual (also called the Negro Spiritual) constitutes one of the largest and most significant forms ...

  • Songs of Sports and Leisure -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    American popular song emerged in the same era that American leisure culture began to develop, and sports such as baseball and football began to take on their present, distinctly American forms. As transportation improved, professional entertainers and traveling shows and circuses became regular visitors throughout the country. Transportation itself also became a form of recreation. Playlist for Sports and Leisure Five recordings from Library ...

  • Printable Timeline -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    1800 Songs of America James Hewitt (1770-1827) composes 'The Wounded Hussar.' Hon'hewachi Song from the Blue Spot ceremony, sung by a group of Omaha men and women. Recorded by Francis La Flesche, September, 1895. The purpose of the ceremony was to honor a female relative of a society member. La Flesche wrote that this song was composed by Old Blackbird of the White Horse ...

  • Parlor and Concert Stage -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Music performance in the United States takes place both at home and on the concert stage. Music written for each of these venues has been of equal importance to the development of American music. The performance of secular music in the United States developed, just as it had many centuries earlier in Europe, along two parallel paths. First, musical gatherings in the private homes ...

  • Traditional and Ethnic -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Traditional songs, often called "folk songs," are learned informally, within the context of family, tribe, community, or another close-knit group. Many traditional songs have been sung within the same family or ethnic and regional communities for generations, and as in the case of American traditional songs, can sometimes be traced back to such places of origin as Great Britain, Europe, or Africa and other ...

  • Blues -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    "The blues" is a secular African-American musical genre that has had broad influence in popular music. Blues songs deal with a variety of topics and emotions, though it is often mistakenly thought that they deal almost exclusively with sorrow and protest. Playlist Recordings from the The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording Trip. Shorty George (1939) Performed by Smith Casey, guitar. In ...

  • 1850 to 1899 -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Cultural and historical events from 1850 to 1899 related to American song.

    • Date: 1850
  • Historical Topics -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    The history of America is reflected through its songs. Read more about how immigration and migration; work and industry; social change; war and conflict; politics and political campaigns; and sports and leisure in the United States have been portrayed in song. Listen to examples for all.

    • Date: 1581
  • Ragtime -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Ragtime, a uniquely American, syncopated musical phenomenon, has been a strong presence in musical composition, entertainment, and scholarship for over a century. It emerged in its published form during the mid-1890s and quickly spread across the continent via published compositions. By the early 1900s ragtime flooded the music publishing industry. The popularity and demand for ragtime also boosted sale of pianos and greatly swelled ...