12 - Country music

12 - Country music - GMUS 203: Music in America Dr. Andrew...

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GMUS 203: Music in America Dr. Andrew Connell Lecture 11: Country and Western SLIDE Announcements **Quiz 2 this weekend **2 nd Proof of Concert Attendance due Nov. 4th SLIDE “Old-time” Music (or “Old familiar tunes,” “songs from Dixie”) • Rural south, Appalachia • The fact that country and blues were marketed as “race” and “hillbilly” music, a racial division that implies these musics were separate and mutually exclusive – many commonalities – oral tradition syncopation, call and response, improvisation • Early “hillbilly” Songs derived from: – English ballads and Irish airs –19th century parlor and pop songs blues and gospel hymns Hybrid Music SLIDE Instruments: string band Multicultural fusion • fiddle • banjo - adopted from African-American culture folk instruments ( quickly abandoned in country music) - dulcimer - autoharp • in the 1920s and 1930s - add - guitar – Hawaiian steel guitar - dobro (guitar with built in resonator) - string bass 1
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- mandolin SLIDE Common and Enduring Characteristics: • Lyrics mix realism and sentimentality – perennial themes: love, death, religion, nostalgia, trains – later trucks and jets see pgs. 108-109 for lyric examples • Vocal tone and delivery nasal or strained quality, yet clear and vibrato-less • Southern dialect and “twang” in varying degrees - “he’s a-going,” “theys a-comin’,” “way over yonders” Utter sincerity is essential When asked about the success of country music, Hank Williams replied: “It can be explained in just one word: sincerity. When a hillbilly sings a crazy song, he feels crazy. When he sings, “I Laid My Mother Away,” he sees her a-laying right there in the coffin. He sings more sincere than most entertainers because the hillbilly was raised rougher than most entertainers. You got to know a lot about hard work. You got to have smelt a lot of mule manure before you can sing like a hillbilly.” 2
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SLIDE Early “Hillbilly” Music • 1923 Ralph Peer , Okeh records scout, visits Atlanta looking for Black talent. Polk Brockman , a Furniture salesman who sometimes worked as a talent scout, persuades him to record veteran fiddler, Fiddlin’ John Carson – “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” • Peer is unimpressed with Carson, but Brockman orders 500 copies and they sell out immediately. • Evidence of a heretofore unknown market for this music – most record execs. were urbane, cosmopolitan – Hillbilly culture was the antithesis of their lives - seen as rural, poor, uneducated, unsophisticated, country bumpkins • Most recordings made in NY 3
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SLIDE The Carter Family from VA mountains. Ralph Peer discovers Carter Family in Bristol, TN From Virginia mountains - Alvin P. Carter (1891-1960) - producer, collected and arranged songs – bass singer - Sara (his wife) (1898-1979) - autoharp or guitar – sang lead vocal - Maybelle (her sister) (1909-1978) – sang harmony - guitar, steel guitar, autoharp
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12 - Country music - GMUS 203: Music in America Dr. Andrew...

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