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    Articles About Songs - The Library of Congress Celebrates the... 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.
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    Biographies - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of... 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.
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    Curator Talks - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs ... 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.
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    Historical Topics - The Library of Congress Celebrates the So... 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.
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    Songs of Immigration and Migration - The Library of Congress ... 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 ...
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    Songs of Politics and Political Campaigns - The Library of Co... 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 ...
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    Songs of Social Change - The Library of Congress Celebrates t... 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, ...
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    Songs of Sports and Leisure - The Library of Congress Celebra... 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 ...
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    Songs of Work and Industry - The Library of Congress Celebrat... 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. ...
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    War and Conflict - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Son... 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, ...
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    Illustrated Sound Recordings - The Library of Congress Celebr... Performances of song and concerts from the Library of Congress are available on this site as well as interviews with performers and composers.
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    Interactive Maps - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Son... See the connection between America's geography and song through interactive maps that offer songs from the states and about the states.
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    Mapping the Songs of America - The Library of Congress Celebr... 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.
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    Mapping the Songs of the Civil War - The Library of Congress ... Select the highlighted states on this map to view a selection of sheet music pertaining to people, places, or events associated with that state during the Civil War. This can include songs about military figures, battles and campaigns, regiments, and other state-related events or sentiments.
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    Musical Styles - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs... 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.
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    Parlor and Concert Stage - The Library of Congress Celebrates... 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 ...
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    Art Song - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of Am... 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 ...
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    Musicals - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of Am... 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 ...
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    Opera - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of Ameri... 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 ...
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    Bluegrass - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of A... 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 ...
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    Country - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of Ame... 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 ...
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    Hip Hop/Rap - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of... In the 1970s and 1980s, the emergence of hip-hop in the African-American communities of cities like New York, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles, took longstanding African-American musical traditions in new directions. The style was generally known as
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    Jazz - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of Americ... Like the term jazz itself, a precise definition of jazz song is elusive. One way to think about it is that a jazz song is anything sung by a jazz singer, since the term 'jazz' usually refers to a style of performance rather than to a method of composition. A jazz song might have lyrics, but not necessarily. It might be a vocalese performance, ...
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    Minstrel Songs - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs... 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 ...
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    Ragtime - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of Ame... 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 ...
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    Rockabilly - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of ... 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. ...
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    Western and Cowboy Songs - The Library of Congress Celebrates... Although it is often spoken of in the same breath as
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    Ritual and Worship - The Library of Congress Celebrates the S... 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. ...
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    African American Gospel - The Library of Congress Celebrates ... 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 ...
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    Shape Note Singing - The Library of Congress Celebrates the S... Nineteenth century American song books that used notes in different shapes to aid singers and teach singing came to be known as
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    Spirituals - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of ... A spiritual is a type of religious folksong that is most closely associated with the enslavement of African people in the American South. The songs proliferated in the last few decades of the eighteenth century leading up to the abolishment of legalized slavery in the 1860s. The African American spiritual (also called the Negro Spiritual) constitutes one of the largest and most significant forms ...
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    Children's Songs - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Son... Children's songs may include songs that adults sing or teach to children, songs children pass along to each other, and songs that children compose themselves. These distinctions are not always clear cut, however, as adults may teach children songs that they learned from other children in childhood, and children may pass along songs learned from adults to other children. Playlist Five recordings from Library ...
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    Traditional Ballads - The Library of Congress Celebrates the ... 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. (
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    Traditional Work Songs - The Library of Congress Celebrates t... 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 ...
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    Timeline - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs of Am... Explore the relationship between cultural and historical events to American song on this timeline.
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    1759 to 1799 - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs o... Cultural and historical events from 1759 to 1799 related to American song.
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    Printable Timeline - The Library of Congress Celebrates the S... 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 ...
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    1800 to 1849 - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs o... Cultural and historical events from 1800 to 1849 related to American song.
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    Printable Timeline - The Library of Congress Celebrates the S... 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 ...
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    1850 to 1899 - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs o... Cultural and historical events from 1850 to 1899 related to American song.
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    Printable Timeline - The Library of Congress Celebrates the S... 1850 Songs of America Stephen Foster composes 'The Voice of Bygone Days', 'Molly, Do You Love Me?', and 'Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway!' 'Go Down Moses,' a spiritual sung by the Tuskegee Institute Singers, 1914. Harriet Tubman reported using this song to identify herself to slaves that might want to escape and flee north with her by singing it in a neighboring ...
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    1900 to 1949 - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Songs o... Cultural and historical events from 1900 to 1949 related to American song.
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    Printable Timeline - The Library of Congress Celebrates the S... 1900 Songs of America Amy Marcy Cheney Beach sets to music Three Browning Songs, including
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    1950 to Present - The Library of Congress Celebrates the Song... Cultural and historical events from 1950 to present related to American song.
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    Printable Timeline - The Library of Congress Celebrates the S... 1950 Songs of America Elinor Remick Warren writes
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    Danny Deever Damrosch's version of the song, published in 1897, is a dramatic account of the death of Danny Deever. Organized in a "question and answer" sequence, the verses usually begin with questions posed by the Files-on-Parade (a soldier in the ranks), which are then answered by the Color Sergeant in the song's refrain. While the militaristic accompaniment helps distinguish the Color Sergeant from the soldier, ...
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    Old Man's Love Song Farwell was apparently taken by the melody of "The Old Man's Love Song" because it reappeared in another of his compositions, his piano work entitled Dawn, op. 12 (published in 1902). For this work, Farwell combined the melody of "The Old Man's Love Song" with another American Indian tune, an Otoe melody. The melody of "The Old Man's Love Song" is first heard in ...
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    Beautiful Dreamer For his songs composed after 1860, Foster turned his creative energy to the parlor ballad, a type of song noted for its sentimental or narrative text, frequently at a slow tempo. The subjects of Foster's ballads were relatively free of minstrel-song influences and centered on topics devoid of southern themes, such as mother, love, and home. With its lilting triplet rhythm, "Beautiful Dreamer" exemplifies ...
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    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 ...
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    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 ...
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    Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway "Ah! May the Red Rose Live Alway!" was published by F. D. Benteen of Baltimore in April of 1850. Foster probably hoped that the publication of his parlor ballads helped diversify his reputation as a song composer, but the ballads proved financially unsatisfactory as compared to his minstrel songs. In his account ledger of 1857, Foster recorded that "Ah! May the Red Rose Live ...
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    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.
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    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 ...
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    Let Down the Bars 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 ...
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    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 ...
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    An Old Song Resung Song Collection. In addition to housing the published edition of the song, the Music Division at the Library of Congress is also the repository of the holograph version of Griffes's "An Old Song Re-sung," acquired from Griffes's family in 1923. By studying the manuscript in the composer's hand, scholars and musicians can appreciate Griffes's penmanship as well as his attention to detail.
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    The Sea Article. MacDowell's Eight Songs, op. 47, come from his last period of song composition. Written in 1893 while living in Boston, these songs were penned when MacDowell was at the height of his fame as a composer. The second to last song in the set, "The Sea," is perhaps one of MacDowell's finest songs. Set to a text by William Dean Howells, "The Sea" ...
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    My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free Song Collection. The song is contained in a collection of Hopkinson's manuscripts, dating 1759-60, and housed in the Music Division of the Library of Congress. As was the performance practice at the time, Hopkinson composed "My Days have been so Wondrous Free" in but two parts, the treble and bass, leaving the harmonic details to be filled in by the accompanist. The song posses ...
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    The Banks of the Yellow Sea Article. Among the composers who benefited by having works included in the issues of New Music were Ruth Crawford, Charles Ives, Wallingford Riegger, and Carl Ruggles, and Virgil Thomson. Ernst Bacon, who contributed over 200 works to the American art song canon, also benefited from this publication when his Six Songs appeared in the January 1942 issue. The collection features Bacon's settings of the ...