Search This Blog

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Pop music

Printed lyrics of folk songs were extremely popular from the 16th century until the early 20th century. They were commonly known as broadsides.

Broadsheets were generally printed on one side of a single sheet of paper, and included only the lyrics and a note designating the tune. Since folk tunes were used and reused, people generally only needed to learn the words. It was a common practice to paste the sheets to a wall, and consult them until the song was learned, after which they were torn down or pasted over with another broadside.

An eighteenth-century broadside ballad

One of the first known broadsides was "A Lytel Geste of Robyne Hood," printed in 1506. They became immensely popular through most of western Europe, England and the United States.

One English merchant sold 190 ballads in 1520. This was a phenomenal amount considering the rarity of literacy at the time, and can be considered the beginning of a British popular music tradition.

The puritan influence towards the end of the 16th century tended to drive much of the popular music underground in the UK.

America's first popular music was religious music. In 1640 Pilgrim settlers in Massachusetts published the first book in America: the Bay Psalm Book, which included English translations of the Bible's Psalms for singing.

Popular music in the West began to emerge as a distinctive group of styles in the 18th century, when broadsheets of popular songs set to traditional tunes began to be commercially produced and sold in the cities of Europe. New tunes by professional composers were written in this style, which derived from folk music, leading to forms such as the ballad opera, the most famous example of which was John Gay's 1728 The Beggar's Opera.

Such 18th century popular songs often had pastoral or moralistic themes, were amorous in content, and included lyrics and melodies in recognizably national styles, such as Irish jigs and Scottish laments.


Before 1800 most popular music in America was brought to the New World by English, Irish, and Scottish immigrants. Sad sentimental songs introduced from England led to the beginning of the United States song-publishing industry in the 1790s.

By 1800 in  Britain popular music was deemed unsuitable in proper theatres and working class folk were hearing and singing their own popular songs in pubs.

The author George Eliot was the first person to use the phrase 'pop music.' In 1862 she wrote: "There is too much pop for the thorough enjoyment the chamber music."

By the late 19th century, Tin Pan Alley, the area around Union Square in New York City, had become the center for sheet music publishing in the United States. Paul Dresser ("My Gal Sal"), Harry Armstrong ("Sweet Adeline"), and Harry Von Tilzer ("A Bird in a Gilded Cage") were among the top Tin Pan Alley songwriters in this period.

Buildings of Tin Pan Alley, 1910

In the late 19th century John Philip Sousa, the former leader of the United States Marine Band, began directing his own band in popular, ragtime, and semi-classical music and also in the famous marches he composed. The popularity of Sousa's band encouraged the growth of popular concert bands.

By the 1890s, a new kind of variety stage show called vaudeville was becoming popular, and such vaudeville singers as Lillian Russell introduced the newest songs from New York City's Tin Pan Alley district along 28th Street.

Typically popular songs at the turn of the 20th century consisted of several verses, each alternating with a repeated chorus. While tearful sentimentality persisted, optimistic songs in waltz meters ("Sidewalks of New York", "Bicycle Built for Two") became fashionable.

In the 1940s, electronic amplification led to more vigorous, aggressive styles such as rhythm and blues. R&B music drew on swing and jump-jazz rhythms and blues vocals and was a progenitor of rock and roll.

In 1948, Louis Jordan dominated the top five listings of the R&B charts with three songs, and two of the top five songs were based on the boogie-woogie rhythms that had come to prominence during the 1940s.

Jordan in New York, July 1946, shortly after getting second billing to Glen Gray at the Paramount

The Radio Corporation of America, sometimes known as RCA, announced a new 7-inch, 45 rpm phonograph record in 1949. By the 1950s the 45, the record with the big hole in the middle, was changing the pop music business.

In 19555 Bill Haley and his Comets released "Rock Around the Clock", beginning the first rock and roll craze among mainstream listeners; many consider this the end of Tin Pan Alley's dominance of pop music, as well as the first use of pop in a movie soundtrack

As rock and roll rapidly became the most popular music of the late 1950s, record industry executives became aware that young listeners made up the largest portion of this music's audience. Therefore they recruited young, often adolescent, singers to record rock and roll and produced such songs as "Young Love" and "Teen-Age Crush."

The Drifters' 1959 song "There Goes My Baby" was one of the first American pop songs with a Latin rhythm.

By the 1960s, the majority of mainstream pop music fell in two categories: guitar, drum and bass groups or singers backed by a traditional orchestra.

The J's with Jamie was a Grammy-nominated American musical group specializing in commercial jingles in the 1950s and 1960s. The group recorded 25–30 commercials each week between 1958 and 1967. Examples of well-known brands for which they recorded jingles include Alka-Seltzer, Campbell's, Kellogg's, Marlboro, Pillsbury, Sears and Wrigley. Time magazine said The J's with Jamie "have probably been heard by more people more times than any other group in the history of sound. Yet next to nobody knows who they are."

The first citation of the word Britpop was in the NME. It was used to describe the Sex Pistols in the late 1970s.

Rap music is a style of popular music that developed in the Bronx, New York City, in 1970s and slowly spread across the country. The Sugar Hill Gang released the first commercial rap hit, "Rapper's Delight," on September 16, 1979 bringing rap off the New York streets and into the mainstream popular music scene.

Wikipedia Commons

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a type of nightclub dance music called Disco turned into a popular type of pop music.

Record companies took an experimental, strange-sounding type of music called New Wave music from the 1980s and turned it into pop music bands such as The Cars.

Contemporary R&B is a mixture of rhythm and blues, soul, funk, pop, hip hop, electronic and dance. By the 21st century Contemporary R&B had become arguably the most popular form of pop music. Examples of Contemporary R&B artists that have a wide pop appeal include Beyoncé, Rihanna and Usher.

Sources Comptons Encyclopedia, Encarta Encyclopedia

No comments:

Post a Comment