Collection The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

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  • " Enchantment, op. 17, no. 1, (1908)" by Mabel Wheeler Daniels

    " Enchantment, op. 17, no. 1, (1908)" by Mabel Wheeler Daniels

    Article. Daniels's compositional career gained major status in 1913, when she presented her choral/orchestral work The Desolate City, op. 21, at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire. Following that success, she returned to the MacDowell as a fellow for twenty-four successive summers. The wooded setting inspired one of her most widely played orchestral compositions, Deep Forest, op. 34, no. 1, (1932-33), which was the ...

  • " O Bless the Lord, My Soul" by John Knowles Paine

    " O Bless the Lord, My Soul" by John Knowles Paine

    Article. Paine deviates from Watts's original poetry, written in 1719, several times. Watts's phrase, "And makes thee young again," appears in Paine's setting as, "And makes thee strong again." The original phrase "He that redeemed my soul from hell" appears as "And he from everlasting death." For his musical setting, Paine chose a version of Watts's text published in the 1853 Unitarian Hymns for ...

  • "The  Carol of the Beasts" by Peter C. Lutkin

    "The Carol of the Beasts" by Peter C. Lutkin

    Article. According to Pauline Graybill Kennel, Lutkin's biographer, he seemed to be at his best when composing shorter works. Carol of the Beasts, only four pages long, is an unaccompanied arrangement of a simple Christmas song by George Coleman Gow, professor of music at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, from 1895 to 1932. The four verses are set for a solo voice or small ...

  • The Happiness Boys

    The Happiness Boys

    Billy Jones (1889–1940) and Ernest Hare (1883–1939) were an enormously popular comic singing duo. They claimed to have been the first duo to be signed by a radio sponsor. They began recording together in late 1920 and in December 1923 began their first radio program, a series for the Happiness Candy Company. This association gave them their well-known and apt sobriquet "The Happiness Boys." ...

  • Arthur B. Whiting (1861-1936)

    Arthur B. Whiting (1861-1936)

    Biography. Whiting did not create a large body of work. When asked about his limited productivity, he replied, tongue-in-cheek, that he had been associating with the masters much too long to tolerate his own music any longer. One of his students, however, noted, "As he grew older he came, I think, to regret more rather than less this inhibition of the creative by the ...

  • " Balm in Gilead" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Balm in Gilead" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. The text of this spiritual was inspired by the biblical passage: "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" (Jeremiah 8:22). Burleigh's setting alternates three nearly identical repetitions of the refrain with two verses. The refrain features a B-flat pedal tone in the piano accompaniment underlying a ...

  • Blues as Protest

    Blues as Protest

    Another example of the use of blues to address social issues are found in African American songs about World War II. Bus Ezell's composition, "Obey the Ration Laws," urges people to comply with war-time rationing, but it also alludes to a difference in compliance and attitudes between poor and wealthy Americans. Buster Brown's "War Song," also performed during World War II, complains of a ...

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

    Traditional and Ethnic -- The Library ...

    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 ...

  • Len Spencer

    Len Spencer

    Len Spencer (1867–1914) was an extremely versatile performer whose somewhat cantankerous-sounding baritone can be heard on many early records, singing ragtime songs, rendering sentimental ballads, reciting speeches of presidents, or doing New York City Bowery dialect comedy sketches with Ada Jones. Spencer's performing career was chiefly based in New York City recording studios. He also operated a booking agency.

  • " Barcarole, Op. 44" by Edward MacDowell

    " Barcarole, Op. 44" by Edward MacDowell

    Article. This work is unique among MacDowell's choral works for its lush vocal richness and coloristic four-hand piano display. Frequent hemiolas, grace notes, trills, and triplet patterns in the piano partner with a lyric melodic breadth and sensitive harmonic progressions in the voices. The poem is by F. M. von Bodenstedt (1819-1892), a well-known German writer whose texts were also set by Brahms, Grieg, ...

  • Songs of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl Migrants

    Songs of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl Migrants

    "I'm Going Down this Road Feeling Bad," is a traditional song that may date from an earlier period, but that expresses sentiments surely felt by displaced workers during the Great Depression. In this presentation there are versions sung by Warde Ford, who traveled to Wisconsin to California to find work with the CCC and by Dust Bowl migrants Ruth Huber and Lois Judd.

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  • "Bedtime (1906)" by Dudley Buck

    "Bedtime (1906)" by Dudley Buck

    Article. Buck's setting begins with eight chimes of the clock in the keyboard accompaniment, each chime labeled with a Roman numeral I through VIII. The mother scolds the child with a minor-mode admonition, "Why it's late! After eight! And it's time you were in bed." Buck uses the same chiming device before each succeeding verse of the strophic setting. In the coda, the chimes ...

  • Regional Song Sampler: The West

    Regional Song Sampler: The West

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • Band Stocks

    Band Stocks

    Article. Article. African-American Band Music and Recordings, 1883-1923, provides instrumental parts for a representative sampling of the enormous body of published stock arrangements. The 1920s marked the beginning of the great era of popular song and of stock arrangement publishing. However, works published in 1923 and beyond remain under copyright protection. The public domain publications included here provide a valuable foundation for appreciating the ...

  • The  Yankee Doodle Boy

    The Yankee Doodle Boy

    Article. Subsequent to Cohan's most successful years on Broadway, a number of shows have incorporated his song "Yankee Doodle Boy" and/or depicted the "Yankee Doodle Boy," himself. Eddie Buzzell sang "Yankee Doodle Boy" in the 1929 motion-picture adaptation of the big hit Little Johnny Jones. Jimmy Cagney played the role of George M. Cohan and sang "Yankee Doodle Boy" in the Academy Award-winning 1942 ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • Peace Songs of the Civil War

    Peace Songs of the Civil War

    Peace songs during and in aid of recovery from a civil war were one thing, peace songs and other expressions of pacifism during a foreign war might be seen as sedition. Mark Twain wrote his pacificist narrative poem "The War Prayer" in about 1904, in response to the Philippine-American War of 1899-1902. [2] Although the poem was written after the war, it tells of ...

  • Chinese American Song

    Chinese American Song

    The organization Music From China was founded in 1984 in New York City with the aim of introducing American audiences to Chinese music. The Library of Congress collection includes a webcast of instrumental Chinese music performed by members of Music From China: The Ann Yao Trio: Traditional Chinese Zheng Music from Florida, July 27, 2011.

  • Hail to the Chief

    Hail to the Chief

    Article. -- "The Lady of the Lake" by Sir Walter Scott

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " Julep Song (The Good Old Mint Julep for Me!)" by Will Marion Cook

    " Julep Song (The Good Old Mint Julep for Me!)" by Will Mario...

    Article. Julep Song was first published in the piano/vocal score of The Southerners in 1904 by York Music Co., New York. The popularity of the piece prompted a solo edition published in the same year by John H. Cook Publishing Co., New York. John H. Cook was Will Marion's brother.

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

    1800 to 1849 -- The Library of Congres...

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

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

    Opera -- The Library of Congress Celeb...

    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

    Western and Cowboy Songs -- The Librar...

    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. ...

  • Charles Naginski

    Charles Naginski

    Biography. Charles Naginski (1909-1940) was born in Cairo, Egypt. In 1928, he won a fellowship at the Juilliard Graduate School in New York City. During his career, tragically cut short by an accidental drowning in a swimming pool at Tanglewood in Lenox, Massachusetts, Naginski wrote works for orchestra, string quartet and songs for voice and piano. He did not write many songs, but the ...

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

    1900 to 1949 -- The Library of Congres...

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

    • Date: 1900
  • Hard Times

    Hard Times

    The text of "Hard Times Come Again No More" proved tragically propheticfor Foster, as it was reported that he sang this song quite often in his lastdays. Indeed, the composer died on January 13, 1864, at the age of 37, with only38 cents to his name.

  • Billy Golden

    Billy Golden

    Billy Golden (William B. Shires) (1858–1926) performed in a blackface act in vaudeville beginning in 1874. He made his first recordings for Columbia Records around 1893 and began recording for Eldridge R. Johnson and what would become the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1901. Golden specialized in blackface dialect comedy, with a vivid portrayal of an old-time character full of unrestrained glee and wit. ...

  • Robert Sonkin (1911-1980)

    Robert Sonkin (1911-1980)

    Biography. Voices from the Dust Bowl: The Charles L. Todd and Robert Sonkin Migrant Worker Collection (American Memory).

    • Contributor: Sonkin, Robert
  • Songs of Social Change

    Songs of Social Change

    Select the links from the left menu for short articles on different periods of social change and social causes from United States history illustrated with examples of songs.

  • Omaha Indian Song

    Omaha Indian Song

    In addition to early cylinder recordings, this presentation includes recordings of performances of songs and speeches at Omaha powwows in the 1983 and a performance by the Hethu'shka Society at the Library of Congress in 1985. Audio recordings of interviews with members of the Omaha tribe in 1983 and 1999 help to explain the meanings and uses of the songs performed. For example, members ...

  • Morton Harvey

    Morton Harvey

    Morton Harvey (1886–1961) was, according to Victor advertising, a tenor. But in reality he had a baritone voice range that he exhibited on many recordings—not only for Victor, but also for Edison, Columbia, and Emerson. On October 2, 1914 he recorded, for Victor, what appears to be the first vocal blues on record, W. C. Handy's "Memphis Blues." Harvey had a successful career in ...

  • Nora Bayes

    Nora Bayes

    Nora Bayes (1880–1928) was a tremendously popular vaudevillian and star of the Broadway musical stage. She is still remembered for the gigantic hit "Shine On, Harvest Moon," which she co-wrote with her then-husband Jack Norworth. Although the title was a success for other artists, the only recording of it made by Norworth and Bayes was never released. Bayes, whose real name was Dora Goldberg, ...

  • Night Wanderers

    Night Wanderers

    Song Collection. Samuel Barber's setting of "Night Wanderers" was not published during his lifetime. It was finally published in 1994 as a part of G. Schirmer's collection of "Ten Early Songs" by Barber. The song is a setting of a poem by William Henry Davies (1871-1940), author of the well-known chronicle "Autobiography of a Super-Tramp" (1908). The book recalls Davies' years living as a ...

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  • " Ol' Marse Winter" by Gena Branscombe

    " Ol' Marse Winter" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Branscombe's SSA setting of poetry by Mary Alice Ogden (1858-1926) was published by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. Ogden's verse was used by permission of The Smart Set Co., a New York literary and cultural magazine edited by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan between 1914 and 1923. Branscombe sets the text, written in African-American dialect, to constant eighth notes, ...

  • " Dig My Grave," one of "Two Negro Spirituals" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Dig My Grave," one of "Two Negro Spirituals" by Harry Thack...

    Article. The text and melody of Dig My Grave were taken from Bahama Songs and Stories by Charles L. Edwards. The opening is appropriately somber, marked Grave, and set for four-part men's voices: "Dig my grave long and narrow! Make my coffin long and strong!" At the tempo change to Andante cantabile, the women sing in parallel sixths while the men sustain an open-fifth ...

  • African American Song

    African American Song

    From rappers like André 3000 (1975–) and pop stars like Michael Jackson (1958–2009), to opera singers like Denyce Graves (1964–) and gospel artists like Yolanda Adams (1961–), African American vocal artists continue to shake up and shape the musical culture of the United States in profound ways.

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  • Sidney Homer

    Sidney Homer

    Biography. Sidney Homer (1864-1953) studied with George Chadwick in Boston, and with others in Germany. In 1895, he married contralto Louise Beatty (Homer), a world-renown opera singer who sang often at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The two lived in New York beginning in 1900 and Sidney Homer began to write songs for his wife to include in her recitals. Homer ...

    • Contributor: Homer, Sidney
  • Popular Songs of the Day --                        The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America

    Popular Songs of the Day -- The Librar...

    "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
  • Regional Song Sampler: The Midwest

    Regional Song Sampler: The Midwest

    Return to Mapping the Songs of America

  • "Bow Down Thine Ear" by Horatio William Parker

    "Bow Down Thine Ear" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. G. Schirmer published the piece in 1890. (Please note that in m. 44 the soprano's E-natural may have been intended to be an E-flat, as suggested by the doubling in the accompaniment.)

  • James Scott, 1885-1938

    James Scott, 1885-1938

    Biography. Biography. Scott, Joplin, and Joseph Lamb form the acknowledged triumvirate of ragtime greats. In many ways, Scott's pieces were more virtuosic than those of his two colleagues'--except for some of Lamb's "heavy" rags.

  • Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

    Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair

    While today "Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair" remains one of Foster's most beloved parlor ballads, the song was virtually unknown during its time. When it was first published, the royalties on the ten thousand copies sold earned just over $200 dollars for Foster. However, Foster, who experienced financial difficulty through most of his career, had to sell the rights to "Jeanie" (as well ...

  • William F. Hooley

    William F. Hooley

    William F. Hooley (1861–1918) was an Irish-born bass singer who recorded prolifically during the early 1900s. He sometimes recorded as a soloist, but more frequently lent his resonant basso to early recording vocal ensembles such as the American Quartet, Haydn Quartet, Lyric Trio, and Orpheus Quartet. Hooley's recording career began in the mid 1890s and lasted until his death in 1918. He also sang ...

  • Herman Wade

    Herman Wade

    Biography. Biography. Very little is known of Herman Wade. He may be the same person as Herman Avery Wade (and may also have been known as Edwin E. Wilson) who worked for the Aeolian Corporation from 1904-23 as a piano roll arranger. Songs attributed him include "I Want to be Loved Like a Leading Lady" (1908), "Hindoo Honey" (1907), and "I've Got a Pain ...

  • Laotian American Song and Dance

    Laotian American Song and Dance

    So among both the ethnic Lao and the Hmong, community events frequently include developing styles of Americanized music and also presentations that introduce traditional songs to younger generations with the idea that the new and the old styles can exist together.

  • Willis Laurence James (1900-1966)

    Willis Laurence James (1900-1966)

    Biography. Library of Congress/Fisk University Mississippi Delta Collection (AFC 1941/002) (finding aid to the collection).

    • Contributor: James, Willis
  • " My Lady Nicotine"  by Will Marion Cook

    " My Lady Nicotine" by Will Marion Cook

    Article. A lyrical ode to the joys of smoking, My Lady, Nicotine notably features the use of syncopated, ragtime rhythm (mm. 9 and 17) and high tessitura. The melody reaches a high A at the verse climax, "She's the mad little, bad little queen of smoke." The duple meter of the verse changes to triple in m. 23, introducing an enthusiastic waltz refrain for ...

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

    Ragtime -- The Library of Congress Cel...

    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 ...

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

    1759 to 1799 -- The Library of Congres...

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

    • Date: 1759
  • " He Met Her in a Meadow" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " He Met Her in a Meadow" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. Burleigh's He Met Her in a Meadow was first published for solo male voice in 1921. G. Ricordi & Co., New York, published versions for mixed chorus, men's chorus, and women's chorus in 1922. Burleigh wrote the song's lyrics about a young farmer's late-evening flirtation. The musical setting is melodramatic and sentimental, foreshadowed in the tempo direction, Andante con molto sentimento. The ostensible ...

  • William H. Tyers, 1876-1924

    William H. Tyers, 1876-1924

    Biography. Biography. One of the first black composers to join ASCAP, Tyers died in 1924.

  • Charles Martin Loeffler, 1861-1935

    Charles Martin Loeffler, 1861-1935

    Knight, Ellen. Charles Martin Loeffler: A Life Apart in American Music. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993.

  • Arthur Pryor

    Arthur Pryor

    Arthur Pryor (1870–1942) was considered to be the world's greatest trombone virtuoso when he was soloist with Sousa's Band during the 1890s. His fame grew when he became Sousa's assistant conductor. In1903 he formed his own concert band, which soon became a fixture at venues such as Asbury Park, New Jersey, and Willow Grove Park, near Philadelphia. Pryor recorded copiously for Victor Records both ...

  • " So Sweet Is She" by Patty Stair

    " So Sweet Is She" by Patty Stair

    Article. Stair sets the text in a chordal style with the melody nearly always in the first tenor voice. It is in three verses—each verse more developed harmonically—and a coda that recalls the final words of each verse: "so white, so soft, so sweet is she." Though it is set with close voicing, Stair avoids any use of "barbershop harmonies," opting instead for sonorities ...

  • Horatio W. Parker (1863-1919)

    Horatio W. Parker (1863-1919)

    Biography. Parker's most impressive accomplishments within the choral genre are his large-scale sacred works. His first oratorio, Hora novissima, is considered by many to be his masterpiece. Composed in 1893 for the Church Choral Society of New York, the oratorio is an eleven-movement setting of medieval Latin poetry by Bernard de Morlaix. The holograph is in the holdings of the Music Division, Library of ...

  • "Three Choruses, op. 33" by Horatio William Parker

    "Three Choruses, op. 33" by Horatio William Parker

    Article. The final piece, "Valentine," is the most rhythmically interesting of the set, with several passages of linear independence and increasingly adventurous chromatic passing tones. All three of these unaccompanied TTBB [tenor 1, tenor 2, baritone, bass] settings lie within the appropriate range of each male voice type, and they are fashioned in the mildly sentimental style of the songs and glees popular with ...

  • May Aufderheide, 1888-1972

    May Aufderheide, 1888-1972

    Biography. Biography. Despite a serious grounding in art music, Aufderheide turned her attentions to ragtime. Her first rag, "Dusty," was published in 1908, the same year that she wed Thomas Kaufman. The early years of her marriage inspired a series of other compositions, among them "The Richmond Rag," "The Thriller Rag," and the "Novelty Rag."

  • "Bethlehem, op. 24" by Amy Beach

    "Bethlehem, op. 24" by Amy Beach

    Article. Article. The piece sets a text by George C. Hugg, a compiler of late-nineteenth-century hymnals. Beach's hymn enjoyed great popularity, receiving performances at the First Baptist Church, Boston, in 1893 and, a few years later, in Detroit and Minneapolis. Arthur P. Schmidt published and disseminated Beach's works, serving as an early champion of women composers. Beach also was an energetic promoter of her ...

  • Patrick Conway

    Patrick Conway

    Patrick Conway (1867–1929) was a famed bandmaster whose career was strongly associated with the city of Ithaca, New York. Conway became the conductor of the Ithaca Band in 1895 and in 1908 used that group as the foundation for his own Patrick Conway Band, with which he toured. Conway made records for the Victor, Edison, Okeh, Pathé, Gennett, and Paramount record companies. He is ...

  • Byron G. Harlan

    Byron G. Harlan

    Byron G. Harlan (1861–1936) was a versatile tenor who specialized in sentimental ballads. He also performed as a comedian and frequently recorded in the character of a "rube" in sketches with Frank C. Stanley. Harlan is best known as the higher-pitched half of the duo Collins and Harlan, with baritone Arthur Collins. He began recording for Victor Records in 1901.

  • "The  Morning Wind" by Gena Branscombe

    "The Morning Wind" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. The text is by Kendall Banning (1879-1944). The short piano introduction depicts the morning wind with an arpeggiated triplet figure in compound meter. The wind, the dawn, and "the land so fair" are wooing the narrator to explore "wherever roads may lead." The ...

  • Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923)

    Alice Cunningham Fletcher (1838-1923)

    Biography. Omaha Indian Music (American Memory)

    • Contributor: Fletcher, Alice C. (Alice Cunningham)
  • Shenandoah

    Shenandoah

    As unclear as the song's origin is, so is the definitive interpretation of its text. Some believe that the song refers to the river of the same name. Others suggest that it is of African-American origin, for it tells the tale of Sally, the daughter of the Indian Chief Shenandoah, who is courted for seven years by a white Missouri river trader. Regardless of ...

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

    Musical Styles -- The Library of Congr...

    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.

  • Passamaquoddy Song

    Passamaquoddy Song

    Both Wayne Newell and Blanch Sockabasin are passionate about helping new generations stay connected to their history and culture. According to Newell, "These songs are about who we are, that we should be proud, and about our obligations to our children."

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

    Timeline -- The Library of Congress Ce...

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

    • Date: 1759
  • "Ponder My Words" by William W. Gilchrist

    "Ponder My Words" by William W. Gilchrist

    Article. Gilchrist's 1915 anthem Ponder My Words was one of the works chosen for a service celebrating the centennial of his birth in 1946. The service was held at New Jerusalem Church in Philadelphia. The anthem opens with a soprano solo singing an expressive setting of the Psalm-Five text. At "consider my meditation," an extended diatonic sequence leads to a choral repetition of the ...

  • George Walker, 1873-1911

    George Walker, 1873-1911

    Biography. Biography. George Walker died on January 6, 1911. Lester Walton, in the New York Age of January 12, 1911, said, "George Walker was a talented artist, a fact which cannot be overlooked . . . Yet, the man was a dominating force in the theatrical world more because of the service he rendered the colored members of the profession, more because of the ...

  • Library of Congress March

    Library of Congress March

    Article. One particular hurdle was the brevity of the 'dog fight' section. The piano draft was too short here, and seemed undeveloped. Fortunately, one of the early fragment sketches had some melodic scribbles (nearly indecipherable) that turned out to match the places where the piano draft seemed incomplete. With this the 'dog fight' was filled out and the form came together nicely.

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • The  Boatmen's Dance and Simple Gifts

    The Boatmen's Dance and Simple Gifts

    Song Collection. Copland's holograph sketches for both sets of the Old American Songs can be accessed on-line through the Aaron Copland Collection at the Library of Congress: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/copland/index.html.

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  • Mexican American Song

    Mexican American Song

    The most well known son jarocho is "La Bamba," which the Mexican American pop singer Ritchie Valens (1941-1959) popularized. Son Jarocho has become part of the fabric of the work of an array of contemporary Mexican American pop and rock singers including Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine, Los Lobos and Lila Downs.

  • Persian American Song

    Persian American Song

    Today Loga Ramin Torkian is composing and performing as a member of the group Niyaz, which has continued to blend traditional instruments with synthesized music while also recording and performing acoustic music using traditional instruments. The group draws from many traditions, including Sufi chant and Persian Radif. As both Torkian and his wife, Niyaz lead singer Azam Ali, spent some of their youth in ...

  • "Festival Hymn" by Dudley Buck

    "Festival Hymn" by Dudley Buck

    Article. The composer provides his own celebratory text that extols the power of music to unite nations. At the midpoint, Buck's music climaxes on the words "O blessed bond 'twixt the high and the lowly," which is answered more prayerfully, "Thy language is known to each nation." In the quietest moment women sing on a simple tonic triad, "O Music," which is answered by ...

  • American Indian and Native Alaskan Song

    American Indian and Native Alaskan Song

    Over the course of time, some song genres have declined as the occasions for their use have passed, while new ones have arisen and others have been adapted in response to changing contexts. The tradition of war dance songs, for example, once used to commemorate intertribal conflict, now honors the experiences of Indian members and veterans of the armed forces.

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

    Rockabilly -- The Library of Congress ...

    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. ...

  • Basque American Song

    Basque American Song

    Starting in the 1960s, folk bands like Ordago and Gaupasa formed to play a combination of traditional Basque music and popular songs. Since then, groups like Amuma Says No have brought a more contemporary edge to Basque music by mixing Basque and American instrumentation and rhythms. A webcast of the performance of Amuma Says No performing both traditional and contemporary songs at the Library ...

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

    Minstrel Songs -- The Library of Congr...

    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 ...

  • Puerto Rican Song

    Puerto Rican Song

    The Puerto Rican musical theatre artists such as Rita Moreno and Chita Rivera have enjoyed long careers on the Broadway stage. Meanwhile the Puerto Rican singer-guitarist-composer José Felciano is known for many international hits including the 1970 Christmas single "Feliz navidad."

  • Joe Jordan

    Joe Jordan

    Biography. Biography. Around 1905, he began a long career as a conductor and composer, working with James Reese Europe on Ernest Hogan's Memphis Students performance troupe. In 1906 he became music director of Chicago's Pekin Theater Orchestra. Jordan also worked in Chicago as a composer and conductor for several musicals. He contributed songs such as "Lovey Joe" to Ziegfeld's 1910 Follies. In 1939 Jordan ...

  • Icelandic American Song

    Icelandic American Song

    Article. Part of a multi-format online collection entitled "California Gold: Northern California Music from the Thirties," the songs were collected as part of The WPA California Folk Music Project, a joint effort of the Work Projects Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Music Division of the University of California, Berkeley, to document folk music being actively performed in Northern California. The project, which ...

  • Leonard Bernstein, 1918-1990

    Leonard Bernstein, 1918-1990

    Biography. Bernstein died in New York on October 14, 1990.

    • Contributor: Bernstein, Leonard
  • Will Marion Cook (1869-1944)

    Will Marion Cook (1869-1944)

    Biography. Biography. Biography. Cook also followed his own advice. Thomas Riis, in his study of early black musical theater, singles out Cook's remarkable harmonic skill and compositional sophistication. When the pursuit of his classical career was stymied, Cook brought his exceptional talent to bear on popular music, perhaps paving the way for the marriage of popular spirit and classical complexity which became jazz. Either ...

  • It's Coming - the Postponeless Creature

    It's Coming - the Postponeless Creature

    Performers and scholars have ranked Bacon's Dickinson settings among the best in the repertoire and have considered him to be one of Dickinson's best interpreters. Few of Bacon's songs have been published separately. Rather, most of his songs have been issued in collections, and quite often a song will appear in more than one collection, usually in a revised version. One such collection is ...

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

    Ritual and Worship -- The Library of C...

    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. ...

  • Arthur Farwell (1872-1952)

    Arthur Farwell (1872-1952)

    Biography. Waters, Edward N. "The Wa-Wan Press: An Adventure in Musical Idealism." In A Birthday Offering to C[arl] E[ngel], comp. and ed. Gustave Reese, 214-33. New York: G. Schirmer, 1943.

  • German American and Russian German American Song

    German American and Russian German American Song

    The composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950) made a significant impact on both American classical and popular music culture with his musical works for the stage. Weill fled Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s, eventually seeking citizenship in the United States with his wife Lotte Lenya (who originated many of her husband's most important female roles.) Works like "The Threepenny Opera," "Happy End" and "Lady in the ...

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  • " Minuet" by Patty Stair

    " Minuet" by Patty Stair

    Article. In the opening A section, written in G major, the stage is set as Grand-aunt plays the spinet, "Thin and worn [is] the spinet's tone." The B section, in C major, takes the listener to bygone days of "ruffled lace" and handsome "Beaux with sabres hanging by their sides." The repeat of the A section marks a return to the parlor and the ...

  • " Weepin' Mary" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    " Weepin' Mary" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    Article. Burleigh's setting is austere in its unvaried, quarter-note/half-note rhythm. His harmonic inventiveness is, therefore, all the more telling against such a simple backdrop. After setting the first phrase in diatonic triads in F minor, he repeats that phrase with subtle chromaticisms and one bold progression on "Call upon your Jesus, an' He'll draw near." On the word "Jesus," Burleigh moves from an F-minor ...

  • My Country 'Tis of Thee

    My Country 'Tis of Thee

    Article. Smith initially wrote another verse, which he cut because it seemed too strident and not in keeping with what he wanted to be a peaceful homage to the nation. Beethoven and Haydn have incorporated the music of this song into their own work and, on August 28, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King quoted Smith's lyrics when he stated from the steps of the ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

    When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again

    Article. The song also gave rise to many a parody. The best known was the Confederate parody "For Bales." Union soldiers sang about Generals such as Burnside, McClellan and Mead in a parody titled "Boys of the Potomac"and northerners disgruntled by taxes, conscription and inflation sang "Johnny, Fill up the Bowl." During the Spanish American War in 1898, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" reached ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • The  1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago

    The 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago

    There was an active and vital local and national music press in America by this time, but in the days before radio, and with the recording business in its technical and commercial infancy, no performer could wish for greater national exposure than that afforded by a succesful engagement at the Columbian Exposition.

  • Seminole and Miccosukee Songs

    Seminole and Miccosukee Songs

    "Snake Song," sung by Billy Bowlegs, Barfield Johns, John Josh, Robert Osceola, and Naha Tiger, and "Horned Owl Song," sung by John Josh, are examples of songs from the Hunting Dance, which was a Seminole and Miccosukee autumn ceremony. The Green Corn Dance continues to be celebrated today, but the Hunting Dance is no longer practiced. [2]

  • Irish American Song

    Irish American Song

    In Addition to John McCormack, notable Irish American vocal music artists from the past include Victor Herbert (1859-1924), a Dublin-born conductor and popular composer of operettas; Bing Crosby (1901-1977), a singer and movie star; Gene Kelly (1912–1996), a singer, dancer and movie star; and Rosemary Clooney (1928-2002), a singer and movie star. Contemporary, well-known vocal artists of Irish American descent include Bruce Springsteen, Shania ...

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  • Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

    Ethiopia Saluting the Colors

    In the poem, "Ethiopia" is an old black slave woman who salutes the American flag as she sees General Sherman's troops march by, all the while being watched herself by a soldier. The colors in her turban--yellow, red, and green--represent those found in the Ethiopian flag. Burleigh musically depicts the setting with a precise, militaristic accompaniment, and with the quotation of the Civil War ...

  • S. H. Dudley

    S. H. Dudley

    S. H. Dudley was the stage name of Samuel Holland Rous (1864–1947), a self-taught baritone who performed comfortably in both the operatic and popular fields. He began recording in 1900 and soon was associated with the Victor Talking Machine Company as an interpreter of comic songs and as a member the much-recorded Haydn Quartet. In 1903 Dudley became an assistant director of recording for ...

  • " In Arcady by Moonlight" by Gena Branscombe

    " In Arcady by Moonlight" by Gena Branscombe

    Article. Also published as a solo song, Branscombe's choral setting (SSA) was issued by Arthur P. Schmidt Co., Boston, in 1914. The text is by Kendall Banning (1879-1914) and refers to a mythical utopian place, a pastoral vision in which all is in harmony with nature. The poem begins, "In Arcady by moonlight (where only lovers go), there is a pool where fairest of ...

  • "De  Gospel Train ('Git on bo'd lit'l children')" by Harry Thacker Burleigh

    "De Gospel Train ('Git on bo'd lit'l children')" by Harry Th...

    Article. Burleigh's setting is an upbeat, highly rhythmic work with several harmonic surprises. His TTBB arrangement is punctuated by inspired moments of train imagery, most notably in the "chu chuck-a, chu chuck-a" sound effects of the second verse and the tenors' falsetto "toot, toot." The tenors sing a perfect fourth, F-sharp–B, against a tonic B-flat-major chord.

  • "Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897)" by Amy Beach

    "Peace on Earth, op. 38, (1897)" by Amy Beach

    Article. Beach's use of expressive devices serves to demonstrate adherence to her tenth musical commandment: "Remember that technic is valuable only as a means to an end. You must first have something to say--something which demands expression from the depths of your soul. If you feel deeply and know how to express what you feel, you make others feel."

  • I'll Be Home for Christmas

    I'll Be Home for Christmas

    Article. In December 1965, having completed the first U.S. space rendezvous and set a record for the longest flight in the U.S. space program, the astronauts Frank Borman and James Lovell hurtled back to earth aboard their Gemini 7 spacecraft. Asked by NASA communication personnel if they wanted any particular music piped up to them, the crew requested Bing Crosby's recording of "I'll Be ...

    • Contributor: Library of Congress
    • Date: 2002
  • " Breathe on Us, Breath of God" by Arthur Farwell

    " Breathe on Us, Breath of God" by Arthur Farwell

    Article. Farwell's strophic setting (four verses followed by a brief "Amen") contains colorful harmonies and unexpected voice leading that beautifully embellishes the text. For example, the soprano's opening tritone leads to an unusual dissonance on the word "breath" resolving to an F-major triad on "God." The return of this striking chord at the end of each verse, as well as in the concluding "Amen," ...

  • Peter C. Lutkin (1858-1931)

    Peter C. Lutkin (1858-1931)

    Biography. In addition to his position as Dean and Director of Choirs at Northwestern University, he also served as Professor of Theory, Piano, Organ, and Composition in the School of Music, 1895-1931; Director of the School's Department of Church and Choral Music, 1926-28; and Lecturer in Church Music at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from Syracuse University. He ...