Rights and Access - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America
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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.
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...
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,...
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.
Songs of Work and Industry - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of America
During the 400 years of the settlement, territorial expansion, migration, industrialization and urbanization of what would come to be known as the United States, the nature of making a living and the technological and economic factors on which it rested changed profoundly. In colonial North America the economy was overwhelmingly agricultural with farmers producing much of what they needed for themselves and their communities....
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...
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.
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...
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...
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...