Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • 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
  • 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.

  • 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 ...

  • Francis James Child and The English and Scottish Popular Ballads

    During his years of editing the ballads, Child gained several more distinctions. By taking up a new professorship of English established at Harvard in 1876, Child became America's first English professor. In 1888, at the founding of the American Folklore Society, Child became its first president. The greatest distinction of all, however, was the impact he had on his friends, colleagues and students. He ...

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

    Bluegrass music is a tradition-based modern style of string band music. Typically a bluegrass band consists of four to seven performers who sing while accompanying themselves on acoustic string instruments such as the guitar, double bass, fiddle, five-string banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, and Dobro. Bluegrass combines elements of old-time mountain music, square dance fiddling, blues, gospel, jazz, and popular music. Like jazz, bluegrass allows ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • Popular Songs of the Day -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    "Popular songs" can be broadly defined as songs that are at least intended to reach a broad audience via some form of commercial distribution, such as broadsides, sheet music, song collections, touring musicians or musical production and from the 1890s on, commercial recordings. Being made to travel, popular music is most likely to represent a broad range of influences, including ones from folk, church ...

    • Date: 1581
  • 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 ...

  • 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. ...

  • 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
  • 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 ...

  • Western and Cowboy Songs -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Although it is often spoken of in the same breath as "Country" music, "Western" is a distinct area of American popular music whose roots reach into the frontier era of the 19th century. Playlist Five recordings from Library of Congress collections Starving to death on a government claim A pioneer song sung by folklorist Vance Randolph, who learned it in Kansas in his youth. ...

  • Traditional Ballads -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Introduction Traditional ballads are narrative folksongs - simply put, they are folksongs that tell stories. They tell all kinds of stories, including histories, legends, fairy tales, animal fables, jokes, and tales of outlaws and star-crossed lovers. ("Ballad" is a term also used in the recording industry for slow, romantic songs, but these should not be confused with traditional or folk ballads.) Many traditional ballads ...

  • 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, ...

  • 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. ...

  • Traditional Work Songs -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    In traditional cultures around the world, work is often accompanied by song. Americans have developed work songs for many occupations, from agricultural jobs like picking cotton, to industrial ones, like driving railroad spikes. Iconic American figures such as cowboys had their work songs, as did sailors, whose songs kept work going smoothly on tall ships throughout the age of sail. Playlist Five recordings from ...

  • War and Conflict -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    War has played no small part in the history of American song. Some of the nation's oldest folk and pop songs celebrate important victories, the experiences of soldiers and sailors, or the loss of loved ones. Playlist for War and Conflict Five recordings from Library of Congress collections describe the business of conflict in a human way. The Waltz must change to a march, ...

  • 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 ...

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

    1950 Songs of America Elinor Remick Warren writes "God Be In My Heart." Aaron Copland's first set of Old American Songs includes settings of "The Boatmen's Dance," "The Dodger," "Long Time Ago," "Simple Gifts," and "I Bought Me A Cat." Seeger Family Concert. Mike, Peggy, and Pete Seeger with the Short Sisters, recorded at the Library of Congress, March 16, 2007 [webcast]. Culture Gian ...

  • 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 ...

  • Illustrated Sound Recordings -- The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Performances of song and concerts from the Library of Congress are available on this site as well as interviews with performers and composers.

    • Date: 1759