Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • Interactive Maps -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    See the connection between America's geography and song through interactive maps that offer songs from the states and about the states.

    • Date: 1581
  • 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
  • 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 ...

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

    Explore the relationship between cultural and historical events to American song on this timeline.

    • Date: 1759
  • 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
  • Curator Talks -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    The curators of the collections at the Library of Congress give more information about the history of song in the United States in these brief "Curator Talk" videos with the help of illustrations and audio clips.

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

    The term "Rock and Roll" was applied to several related forms of music broadly popular with youth starting in the mid-1950s. Some styles were already well established with certain audiences, or used musical devices that had been around for some time, but in the mid-1950s, they achieved national popularity, and soon became the driving forces in much of popular music. Playlist Recordings from Library ...

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

    Rockabilly music arose after World War II and is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll. Mixtures of country music with swing and boogie woogie styles preceded it in the 1940s. As early as the 1930s, Western swing artists such as Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and Milton Brown and his Musical Brownies freely mixed Black and white styles of music. ...

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

    Short biographies are available for some of the many composers, lyricists, performers, conductors, field collectors, and folklorists who have played a part in the history of American songs.

    • Date: 1759
  • Articles About Songs -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Original essays and articles are available on this site to help provide historical context and a deeper view for those who wish to learn more about particular topics. The Library's curators have written articles on historical topics and song, musical styles, individual songs, and songs of various ethnic groups in America.

    • Date: 1759
  • 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
  • Rhythm and Blues -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    The term "rhythm and blues," often called "R&B," originated in the 1940s when it replaced "race music" as a general marketing term for all African American music, though it usually referred only to secular, not religious music. The term first appeared in commercial recording in 1948, when RCA Victor records began using "blues and rhythm" music as a descriptor for African American secular songs. ...

  • 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 ...

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

    Since its grand beginnings as Italian court entertainment at the turn of the seventeenth century, opera has been an art form that strives to portray a heightened reality, transporting the audience to a time and place beyond its own. Opera is a seemingly magical concoction of theater, music, and dance that has ignited the imaginations of young and old, rich and poor, for over ...

  • 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, ...

  • 1900 to 1949 -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Cultural and historical events from 1900 to 1949 related to American song.

    • Date: 1900
  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Songs of Immigration and Migration -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    As Europeans colonized North America, beginning with the Spanish and French in the 1500s and the British and Dutch in the early 1600s, colonists brought their cultural entertainments along with them. Songs brought to colonial America continued to be sung in their early forms, so that later scholars of songs and ballads, such as the British ethnomusicologist Cecil Sharp and American ballad scholar Francis ...

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

    Country music encompasses everything from fiddler Eck Robertson to the arena-pop of Taylor Swift. The origins of country music can be traced to the 17th century, when European and African immigrants to North America brought their folktales, folk songs, favorite instruments, and musical traditions. Country music has seen various developments since the first commercial recordings, but whatever form it takes, country music speaks to ...

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

    Blackface minstrelsy, which derived its name from the white performers who blackened their faces with burnt cork, was a form of entertainment that reached its peak in the mid-nineteenth century. Using caricatures of African Americans in song, dance, tall tales, and stand-up comedy, minstrelsy was immensely popular with white audiences. These caricatures usually featured the uncultured, parochial, happy-go-lucky southern plantation slave (Jim Crow) in ...

  • 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 ...