Thursday, October 10, 2013

A brief history of popular music #1

In a lecture next week I will give a brief introduction to the history of popular music. I'm considering using the Guardian's "Timeline of modern music - ALL GENRES" as a starting point. In 45 minutes I have no chance what so ever to cover anything else than the very basics, so giving the students this infograph will hopefully inspire them to look further into the layers of history. The Guardian is proving again and again that they are very good on music history.

The Guardian's timeline of modern music. A testimony to that "modern music" means different things for different people. 


In a series of posts I will present the examples that I will discuss in my lecture. 

1910s: Varieté artists as recording stars


The first gramophone star of Norway - Adolf Østbye - made his first recordings in 1904.


Some of the recordings were popular songs, other were jokes or stories that Østbye performed on his variety shows. This marvelous video shows one of Østby's 7'' gramophone records being played on a period record player. 


And of course - I'm going to mention Caruso, the first million seller.

1910s: First jazz and blues recordings


The Original Dixieland Jazzband is normally attributed with the first jazz-recording in 1917.

The first known blues recording is Mamie Smith's Crazy Blues.

1920s: The jazz age

After introducing the microphone in recording, sound quality improves dramatically. Records can be used for dancing, Louis Armstrong is making his first recordings and Hot Jazz is everywhere. This is also the era where many of the jazz standards start emerging.


1930s/40s: Swingin' time 

Swing is dominating the dance floors all over, even in Germany during the dark 1930s and 40s (though in secret). This is an example of orchestrated swing jazz - Duke Ellington playing the awesome It Don't Mean a Thing if it Ain't Got That Swing in 1943. 

And yes, I almost forgot - the electric guitar emerges in the 1930s. And in 1935 Robert Johnson sells his soul to the devil.

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