As the influx of immigrants changed the face of America in the late nineteenth century, technological innovations changed the nation's landscape. In 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph. He invented the electric lightbulb two years later.
These and other new devices such as the telephone and telegraph were demonstrated at national expositions and imitated and celebrated in a variety of song styles. Instrumental works such as "Railroad galop" simulated the sound of a steam engine while a polka entitled "Electric Sparks" was inspired by the telephone. Waltzes, gallops, polkas, and marches are just some of the musical styles found by searching on railroad, electricity, telegraph, or telephone. Students can discuss how these inventions lent themselves to musical imitation.