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Commercial name for the New York theater district. Few of the theaters are actually on Broadway, but many are in the Times Square area. The “Broadway” designation as a term, according to Actor’s Equity, refers to a theater with at least 500 seats; off-Broadway houses are smaller.

See Musical theater.


Anne Beetem Acker

[chip music]

Term related to music made by the eight-bit soundchips in 1980s and early 1990s gaming systems and microcomputers, as well as music composed using modified (‘modded’) gaming systems or environments designed to emulate the capabilities of early soundchips. (A chip, or microchip, is an integrated circuit packaged in a usually flat rectangular body with input and output pins for attachment to a larger circuit system.) The original systems include the NEC PC-8801, Commodore 64, Nintendo Entertainment Systems, Amiga, Game Boy, and Mega Drive/Genesis. The distinctive sound of music from these systems arises from their use of only a few simple waveforms, white noise, and beeps, as well as unreliable pitches and limited polyphony. Despite these restrictions, inventive chiptune composers in the 1980s emulated many styles of music using flutelike melodies, buzzing square-wave bass lines, rapid arpeggios, and noisy primitive percussion. Game music is designed to loop indefinitely and then quickly switch depending upon the characters or scenes of the game, requiring the music to be simple yet evocative. Composers used software ‘trackers’, tediously entering the note and other information in numerical codes that the hardware chip could use....


Charles Conrad

The first American circus was presented in Philadelphia by English equestrian master John Bill Ricketts. The Philadelphia Federal Evening Post dated May 15, 1793 is the first known newspaper mention of circus music: “He dances on the rope, at the same time plays several pieces of music on the violin in concert with the band.” A little more than a year later, the same paper announced: “Mr. Ricketts has provided a Grand Band of Music, under the direction of Mr. Young.” The makeup of these bands are as yet unknown. An 1893 newspaper article quotes a player from the 1833 Bailey’s Circus as mentioning that “clarionet bands” (generally 7–10 piece bands of clarinets, natural horns, and serpent or ophicleide) were used. Local brass bands were employed in the 1830s, and with the advent of convenient railroad travel, bands began to tour with the circuses. The earliest “star” circus musician was keyed-bugle virtuoso Edward “Ned” Kendall....



David Brackett

A form of dance music that dominated popular music during the late-1970s. It features regular bass drum accents on every beat, frequent use of orchestral instruments and synthesizers, Latin percussion, and simple lyrics oriented around dancing, romance and a party-led life style. The term derives from discothèque: venues that began playing pre-recorded dance music in the early 1960s.

Disco emerged from clubs in New York City that catered primarily to African-American, Latino and gay subcultures. Based on the ‘sweet’ soul sounds popularized by the Motown and Philadelphia International recording companies, disco also included funk and Latin elements, and initially included a stylistically diverse range of songs. Its impact extended beyond musical style, challenging prevalent notions in popular music criticism about authorship and creativity. The central figure in this challenge was the DJ. Because DJs were responsible for selecting and sequencing songs, it was their taste that dictated disco’s sense of style rather than the singers and instrumentalists of soul and rock musics; successful DJ’s could acquire their own following in much the same way as a recording artist. In fact, the disco DJs predilection for reconfiguring existing recordings by fading out of one song and into another led to the recording industry’s invention of the 12-inch single, designed for easier editing. DJs shared the creative locus of the disco scene with the audience itself, as the focus on dancing stressed social interaction....



David Brackett

An African-American popular music style. It features syncopated interlocking rhythm patterns based on straight quaver and semiquaver subdivisions, a vocal style drawn from soul music, extended vamps based on a single and often complex harmony, strong emphasis on the bass line, and lyrics with frequent spiritual themes and social commentary. The use of the term for a musical style inverts the negative colloquial meaning of strong aromas, particularly of a bodily and sexual nature.

While the adjective ‘funky’ was applied to gospel-influenced jazz in the 1950s, and appeared in song titles as early as 1967, for example Funky Broadway by Dyke and the Blazers, it did not become widespread as a term for a specific genre until the mid-1970s. The increased use of the term in the late 1960s coincided with a shift in African-American politics from the integrationist stance of the Civil Rights movement, associated with the rise of soul music, to the more radical stance of the Black Power Movement, a shift heralded by James Brown’s funk recording ...


Ian Bradley

English comic-opera collaborators. The impact of the comic operas of the librettist W.S. Gilbert (1836–1911) and the composer Arthur Sullivan (1842–1900) in the United States was immediate and lasting. H.M.S. Pinafore, the team’s second significant collaboration, established its transatlantic reputation. In the absence of international copyright agreements, a pirate production opened in Boston on 25 November 1878, exactly six months after the London first night. Within a few months Pinafore mania was sweeping the country. The opera was at one point being performed simultaneously in eight New York theaters within five blocks of each other. By the time the “authorized” version opened at the Fifth Avenue Theater in New York on 1 December 1879, more than 150 productions had played across the United States.

It was a mark of the instant and intense popularity of the first of the major Savoy operas, as Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas became known, that the next work in the canon, ...



Charles Garrett


Paul F. Wells

A loosely defined term that is applied variously to older (i.e. pre–World War II) forms of country music, to a variety of traditional fiddling styles, and to modern performers who draw on or seek to perpetuate older styles. The history of the term has yet to be fully researched, but it was being used at least as early as the mid-1920s. In 1924 OKeh records used the term “Old Time Pieces” in ads to describe the music of two artists, Fiddlin’ John Carson and Henry Whitter. Carson and Whitter were among the first southern rural artists to be recorded, at a time when the genre that later came to be called Hillbilly music , and subsequently Country music , had yet to acquire an overarching rubric. The term was also used liberally during the nationwide, nostalgia-driven craze for “old-time” fiddling and dancing that was instigated by industrialist Henry Ford; this fad peaked in ...


John Cline

A term coined by the radio DJ and author Irwin Chusid in 1996 to describe a loosely related set of recordings that do not fit well within any pre-existing generic framework. The art critic Roger Cardinal first used the term “outsider” in 1972 in relation to visual art. His usage translated into English the French artist Jean Dubuffet’s term art brut, which arose from Dubuffet’s interest in the artwork of criminals and the mentally ill. The term “outsider art” was in wide circulation during the 1970s and 80s, when many examples of what became now known, after Chusid, as “outsider music” were first being analyzed by collectors of outré records; Lester Bangs mentioned two key outsider musicians, Wild Man Fischer and Jad Fair, in his essay “A Reasonable Guide to Horrible Noise” (1981). V. Vale explored similar terrain in the early 1990s. Outsider music does not involve any definite stylistic qualities; criteria for inclusion are generally either negational or relational. Much outsider music exhibits idiomatic characteristics of established genres, ranging from opera (Florence Foster Jenkins) to country music (the Legendary Stardust Cowboy), although in an idiosyncratic fashion. Other examples defy precedent, leaving the critical listener understanding initially only what the music is not (as with Fischer’s a cappella compositions). The term “outsider” is, almost by definition, controversial. From Dubuffet to Chusid, it has concurrently carried connotations of both psychological pathologies and an assumption of a purity of expression at the boundaries of culture....



Beth E. Levy

Although the term “pageant” has a substantial history in reference to European liturgical drama and postwar beauty contests, the dramatic form known as the pageant held special significance for American composers between the 1910s and the 1930s. Combining spoken dialogue, dance or pantomime, and musical numbers, pageants were most often staged outdoors and were usually characterized by some type of civic or social aim and by amateur or community involvement, sometimes on a massive scale.

The most widely propagated type of pageant was the community or historical pageant. Bringing the ideals of the new pageantry movement in Great Britain across the Atlantic, William Chauncy Langdon and the American Pageant Association (founded in 1913) advocated an episodic, locally generated drama in which “the place is the hero and its history is the plot.” For such productions the music was often a pragmatic pastiche of old favorites, contrafacta, and newly composed scores. Ernest Richard Kroeger and Frederick Shepherd Converse wrote music for the gargantuan ...


Susan Key

Parlor music generally refers to music composed for domestic use from c1820 to World War I, consisting primarily of songs for voice and piano but also including compositions for solo piano as well as transcriptions and arrangements adaptable for a variety of instruments. Both vocal and instrumental music were aimed at an amateur market and intended for performance in the home, primarily but not exclusively by females. Instrumental music for the parlor was most commonly for piano or melodeon but demonstrated flexibility according to circumstances, with interchangeable parts for a variety of popular domestic instruments such as flute, guitar, or violin. The music was published in individual Sheet music editions, often with elaborate engraved covers. All aspects of the genre—music, texts, and the material cultural of sheet music and instruments—both reflected and affected the technology, social mores, and cultural values of this period.

The emergence of parlor music in the 19th century was a result of three interrelated phenomena: technological developments, the growth of the middle class, and changes in domestic architecture. Technical advances in the manufacture and dissemination of sheet music and musical instruments fostered music-making in American homes. In the 18th century, only a few hundred musical titles were published in the United States; the first quarter of the 19th century saw the publication of 10,000 titles, and the industry continued to expand until World War I. The growth of a middle class with more leisure time led to greater opportunities for music lessons and domestic entertainment. The 19th century saw sharp increases in the number and frequency of native-born music teachers who offered music training in school, home, and church settings. Finally, changes in domestic architecture created a room removed from the daily functions of cooking, eating, and sleeping, which served as a marker of social stature for Americans. Derived from the French word ...


Christopher Balme

The dances and music of the Polynesian peoples have had varying impact on the United States over the last one and half centuries. Of greatest importance are Hawaiian music and dance, including musical instruments such as the Pedal steel guitar and Ukulele, and practices such as the Hula (see Hawaii). Owing to US colonial involvement in the region, exchange and influences transcend just the Hawaiian connection. For the 1909 production Inside the Earth at the New York Hippodrome 50 Maori performers were imported from New Zealand for the season. To promote her 1926 silent film, Aloma of the South Seas, the dancer Gilda Gray toured with a Polynesian band, The Royal Samoans, and performed her “Polynesian dance” before showings. The Royal Samoans capitalized on the craze for Hawaiian and Tahitian music and dancing. They performed throughout the United States in the interwar period, even obtaining a live cameo in the ...


Susan Feder

revised by Michael Mauskapf

[Pop, Promenade]

Orchestral programs modeled after European promenade concerts of the 19th century, in which light classical music was played while the audience was served refreshments. The development of pops concerts in America reflected an emerging emphasis on the audience and an explicitly articulated division between so-called serious and light classical music propagated by conductor Theodore Thomas and others. Such concerts were traditionally structured in three parts, in which lively pieces—overtures, marches, and galops—were played in the outer sections while the middle section typically included waltzes and occasionally more serious works; encores were a regular feature. These concerts often took place in outdoor venues during the summer season, and featured audience promenades during the intermissions. Initially, works by European composers such as Rossini, Grieg, Liszt, and J. Strauss dominated the programs of pops concerts, but excerpts from musicals and operettas by De Koven and Herbert, among others, soon became a significant component. In general these concerts were understood as a vehicle to reach new audiences and broaden the appeal of orchestras and orchestral music....



Keith Waters

Term that loosely refers to a body of music that emerged in the late 1950s and 60s that combined principles of bop, hard bop, modal jazz, and free jazz. Much of this music maintained standard bop and hard bop elements, including a “head—solos—head” format and accompanimental textures such as walking bass. But the music also departed from earlier traditions in the following ways: a slower harmonic rhythm characteristic of modal jazz, techniques for playing “inside” and “outside” the underlying harmonic structure, an interactive (or conversational) approach to rhythm section accompaniment, unusual harmonic progressions, use of harmonic or metric superimposition, unusual underlying formal designs for head statements and chorus structure improvisation, or the abandonment entirely of underlying chorus structure beneath improvisation. The recordings of the Ornette Coleman Quartet (The Shape of Jazz to Come, 1959), Miles Davis Sextet (Kind of Blue, 1959), Bill Evans Trio (Portrait in Jazz...


James Webster

The most important principle of musical form, or formal type, from the Classical period well into the 20th century. This form is that of a single movement, not a ‘sonata’ as a whole; such a movement is most often part of a multi-movement instrumental cycle such as a sonata, piano trio or quartet, string quartet or quintet, symphony etc., or an independent movement like an overture or tone poem. Sonata form as such is less common in fantasies and the like, small movements, concertos and vocal music, but its principles may influence other features of form in such works. Though most characteristic of first movements in fast tempo, it often appears in middle movements and finales, and in moderate and slow tempo; hence the synonyms ‘sonata-allegro form’ and ‘first-movement form’ are best avoided.

A typical sonata-form movement consists of three main sections, embedded in a two-part tonal structure. The first part of the structure coincides with the first section and is called the ‘exposition’. The second part of the structure comprises the remaining two sections, the ‘development’ and the ‘recapitulation’. The exposition divides into a ‘first group’ in the tonic and a ‘second group’ in another key, most often the dominant. Both first and second group may include numerous different ideas; the first or most prominent theme may be called the ‘main theme’, ‘first subject’, ‘primary material’ etc., while the most prominent theme in the second group is often called the ‘second theme’ (or ‘subject’), whether or not it actually is the second important musical idea. The development (the misleading term ‘free fantasia’ is now obsolete) usually develops material from the exposition, as it modulates among one or more new keys. The last part of the development prepares the recapitulation. The recapitulation (or ‘reprise’; but see §3 (iii)) begins with a simultaneous ‘double return’, to the main theme and to the tonic. It then restates most or all of the significant material from the exposition, whereby the second group is transposed to the tonic. The movement concludes either with a cadence in the tonic paralleling the end of the exposition, or with a coda following the recapitulation....


Marc Rice

[Kansas City jazz]

A style of jazz developed in the 1920s and 30s unique to Kansas City and the Southwest. It grew from the ragtime traditions of Missouri, the blues of the Southwest, and the fierce musical and economic competition that was a fact of life for the territory bands working in the region. Features of the mature Southwest style include a heavy emphasis on improvisation, a driving 4/4 beat, and the influence of blues forms and harmonies.

Kansas City was the focal point of jazz in the Midwest and Southwest, due to its vibrant African American communities, and a political climate that enabled the presence of alcohol and vice in venues where the music was performed. The city was home to dozens of musicians and several bands, the most important of which were the Bennie Moten and George E. Lee Orchestras. There were dance halls and many jazz clubs where local and visiting musicians were allowed to experiment, and to challenge each other through “cutting contests” that demonstrated their improvisation skills. (...


Carey Fleiner

Surf music originated in the late 1950s on the West Coast of the United States—especially in Southern California—and reached its peak between 1962 and 1964. The term surf music includes surf-rock, a type of instrumental rock, and surf-pop, a close-harmony, lyrical dance music.

The musical antecedents of surf-rock define its sound: the shimmery twang of the ukulele, imported to Southern California from Hawaii along with surfing as a sport and lifestyle in the 1910s and 1920s; Spanish flamenco guitar and melodies brought to Southern California via Mexican musicians; and rockabilly and early rock and roll by instrumentalists such as Duane Eddy (“Ramrod”) and Link Wray (“Jack the Ripper”). Surf-rock began to emerge as a genre in 1959, and by 1961 instrumental surf-rock dominated dance clubs in Orange County (such as the Rendezvous Ballroom) and local radio station playlists.

While some influential instrumental surf bands came from outside of California (Seattle’s Ventures, Minneapolis’s Trashmen, and Colorado’s Astronauts), most early surf-rock bands gained popularity in Southern California. The first national surf hit, complete with ocean wave sound-effects, was “Bustin’ Surfboards” (...


Christopher Wilkinson

[sweet jazz]

The term “sweet dance music” is used to define both a repertory and a performance practice. It appeared in print for the first time in the late 1920s and continued to be used regularly until the 1950s, often as a pejorative label for a style that was in many respects the antithesis of jazz. In addition to American popular songs, the repertory included genres of European origin: waltzes, polkas, and “light classics,” among others. The style was frequently characterized by music that was fully arranged with little if any improvisation played by bands having an instrumentation similar to that of jazz bands of the 1930s: reeds, brass, and a rhythm section supplemented in some instances by strings. The musicians use a straight tone, not individualized sonorities characteristic of hot jazz. Arrangements typically use symmetrical rhythms with little or no swing in slow to moderate tempos. Singers also employ a straight tone and equally symmetrical rhythms rather than jazz-based vocalisms....