Ch_2 Tin Pan Alley and Ragtime.docx - Introduction: Tin Pan...

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Introduction: The Birth of Tin Pan AlleyTin Pan Alley in 1910Licensed under Public Domainvia Wikimedia CommonsAs the nineteenth century bled into the twentieth, popular music came into its own as an economic engine. Printed sheet music was the dominant means by which Americans bought and enjoyed pop music, and rising sales of printed sheet music in the years after the Civil War made the business of music publishing so lucrative that it gave rise to an entire industry. By the 1890s so many music publishing companies were based in a particular area of New York City that it became known as "Tin Pan Alley" (after the tinny sound of the cheap pianos on which songwriters composed new songs). Around the turn of the century the American music publishing industry hit upon its first truly successful business model. This business model involved aggressive cross-promotion through the vaudeville theater, which had became the dominant type of mass entertainment as the popularity of Minstrel Shows gradually declined.Through the nineteenth century, music publishing was a largely unregulated arena, which often led to the exploitation of artists, a theme that will return throughout the history of American popular
music. However, the U.S. congress reformed American copyright lawin 1909, and this act helped to streamline the flow of copyright royalties in the music industry, making it possible for songwriters to make a professional living and setting the template for the economics of the American music business: to this day, copyright royalties from popular songs generate a great deal of the income that drives the music industry.From Brass Bands to RagtimeAt the turn of the twentieth century, the predominant styles of Tin Pan Alley parlor songs continued largely unchanged—including sentimental ballads, humorous novelty songs and patriotic odes—but with one major development: Ragtime. Ragtime was a new styleof instrumental music developed by African-American artists during the nineteenth century, and it was based upon the technique of adding a syncopated (off-beat) melody over a steady two-beat march rhythm. The tradition of military march music played by brassbands had come over from Europe with the British colonists, and during the Civil War brass bands were a common part of the lives of Northern and Southern soldiers alike, including the African-Americansoldiers fighting in the Union army. After the war, black musicians and composers took the march style and applied their own musical aesthetics to it. The syncopated style that they created, named for the ragged or off-beat rhythm of the piano right hand, grew in
popularity as composers like Scott Joplin began publishing printed sheet music versions of their rags. The success of Joplin and other ragtime piano songwriters in turn drew the attention of the mainstream Tin Pan Alley music publishing industry, and in the earlydecades of the twentieth century famous songwriters like Irving

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