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Exotica  

Phil Ford

A kind of pop music popular from the mid-1940s to the mid-1960s that was intended to evoke unfamiliar and distant peoples, places, and times. Exotica relies on the kind of signification used in film music: it uses musical figures with distinct but nonspecific cultural associations in a collective storehouse of memory—for example, gongs as a sign of “the mysterious East.” In the most narrow definition of exotica, these familiar musical gestures are drawn from Hollywood orchestral scoring, Latin jazz, and modern art music (Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Igor Stravinsky, in particular) in order to depict tribal cultures in tropical places. les Baxter is the main exponent of this style: see especially Voice of the Xtabay (1950), a collaboration with yma Sumac , and Ritual of the Savage/Sacre du Sauvage (1951), a suite of thematically connected instrumental pieces that emulates Stravinsky’s Sacre du printemps in a pop register. Other artists who worked in the “jungle exotica” style include ...

Article

Todd Decker

[Kubelsky, Benjamin ]

(b Chicago, IL, Feb 14, 1894; d Beverly Hills, CA, Dec 26, 1974). American Entertainer, actor, and violinist. The son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Lithuania, he began playing violin at age six and was considered a local prodigy. By age 17 he was playing in vaudeville pit orchestras and soon moved onto the stage. Benny paired up with a pianist—initially Cora Salisbury, then Lyman Wood—in his signature musical act of this time, “From Grand Opera to Ragtime.” After brief service in the US Navy during World War I, Benny returned to vaudeville as a single in an act emphasizing comedy over music. He married Mary Livingstone (Sadye Marks) in 1927. She was an integral part of Benny’s act for most of his career. Although a movie contract with MGM in 1929 led nowhere, Benny found his true medium on radio. His first radio appearance came on ...

Article

Alexandra M. Apolloni

Located at 1619 Broadway in New York, the Brill Building housed the offices of some of the most commercially successful songwriters, producers, and music publishers working between the late 1950s and mid-1960s. The term “Brill Building” additionally has become a descriptor embracing a wide range of popular musical styles that were being created in New York in the early 1960s, including girl groups, bubblegum pop, vocal doo-wop, Latin pop, and soul. In addition to 1619 Broadway, other sites, notably the offices of Don Krishner and Al Nevins’s Aldon Music at 1650 Broadway, were also locations that contributed to the Brill Building sound. The Brill Building is credited with fostering skillful songwriting and introducing innovations in popular music production models, following in the tradition of Tin Pan Alley.

Numbers 1619 and 1650 Broadway housed songwriters, producers, and publishers in dozens of small offices and cubicles, where collaboration took place daily. Songwriters, often working under salary, were able to pitch their work to publishers in the same building, while producers could solicit songs for their artists, hire musicians and arrangers, and make recordings in-house, resulting in what has been described as a vertically integrated production structure. This system has been likened to a conveyor belt and the Brill Building to a songwriting factory. While this characterization is accurate in some respects, scholars have argued that it undermines the creativity and innovation that emerged there as a result of close relationships between songwriters, publishers, producers, and artists....

Article

William Brooks

revised by Deniz Ertan

(b Dublin, Ireland, May 9, 1810; d New York, NY, June 7, 1880). Playwright and comic actor of Irish birth. Most of his comedies used music extensively. Brougham was active in London during 1830–42 where he wrote his first play (a burlesque) in 1831. After managing the Lyceum theater (1840), he moved to the United States and made his New York debut on 4 October 1842. He toured widely in the United States, performing in Boston from 1846 to 1948, then settled in New York, where he starred at Burton’s Theatre. On 23 December 1850 he opened Brougham’s Lyceum, but the venture failed two years later. He edited a comic paper, The Lantern (1852). From 1852 to 1860 he acted at Wallack’s and Burton’s theaters and managed the Bowery. He founded and was president of the Lotus Club in New York. After spending five years in London, he returned in ...

Article

Katherine K. Preston

Town in Virginia (pop. 14,068; 2010 US Census). It served as Virginia’s capital from 1699 to 1780. During the 18th century, the town (granted Royal Charter in 1722) enjoyed musical and theatrical activities typical of a much larger city. Sacred music was performed regularly from the time of earliest settlement at Jamestown (1607); the most prominent church in Williamsburg during the 18th century was Bruton Parish (est. 1715). The church’s organist peter Pelham (1721–1805) served for over 40 years (1756–1802) and also was instrumental in organizing secular music performances, including concertos by Handel and Vivaldi. Sacred music was also important to the city’s African Americans (roughly half of the population during the 18th century); the oldest continuous black congregation in America was the First Baptist Church of Williamsburg (1776).

The first recorded theatrical performance in English-speaking America (1702) and the first theater built (...

Article

Ken Tucker

revised by Art Menius

(b Maywood, IL, Oct 10, 1946). Americana, folk, and country singer and songwriter. His first album, John Prine (1971), included the enduring “Sam Stone,” about the plight of Vietnam veterans, and “Hello in There,” which dealt with the insensitive treatment of elderly people. The recording brought him critical acclaim and an enthusiastic cult following but little mainstream success, a pattern that has continued since. Starting with 1975’s Common Sense, he has explored country, rock, and rockabilly as platforms for his prolific compositions and often surprising covers. Prine’s lyrics mix the topical with the surreal, often portraying ordinary people attempting to deal with extraordinary times in absurd, humorous, or painfully sad ways. His songs have been recorded by performers as diverse as Bonnie Raitt, Johnny Cash, Norah Jones, Jim & Jesse, and Bette Midler. A 2010 album featured popular young artists such as the Avett Brothers covering Prine compositions....

Article

Linda Whitesitt

Voluntary associations of professional and amateur musicians. Music clubs have had a profound impact on the modern institutions and practices of American musical life that arose in the decades spanning the turn of the 20th century. Emerging after the Civil War and as part of the long tradition of 19th-century women’s organizations, most of these music clubs were founded by women to offer women musicians the opportunity to study music and perform for each other. By 1893, when the first gathering of women’s music clubs convened at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, many clubs had broadened their mission to include what they described as the advancement of public taste and the promotion of high-quality music. A rapidly expanding body of members (men would eventually join the ranks of club members) in individual music clubs, as well as the National Federation of Music Clubs (chartered in 1898), would accomplish these goals by sponsoring concert series of European and American artists, chamber ensembles, orchestras, and opera companies in their communities....

Article

Zaide Pixley

revised by Eric Saylor

City in Iowa (pop. 203,433; metropolitan area 433,301; 2010 US Census). It became capital of the state in 1857. Its early musical life was shaped by Virgil Corydon Taylor (1817–91), originally from Connecticut, and Maro Loomis Bartlett (1847–1919) of Ohio, who had previously been active in New York and Chicago. Taylor arrived in Des Moines in 1865; he organized music classes, conducted performances of his own cantatas and other works, and served as organist at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. F. Mills & Co., one of the city’s first music publishers, released his choral collection The Praise Offering in 1868. Bartlett was invited to become conductor of the 100-voice Des Moines Philharmonic Society in 1886. In his recollections of the city’s musical life (c1915), he stated that the society was first conducted by Willard Kimball of Grinnell, then by David Blakely of Minneapolis (later Sousa’s business manager), who brought Theodore Thomas’ orchestra and other groups to Des Moines. Another important musical institution at this time was Gerberich’s Grand Orchestra, a 38-member ensemble organized and conducted by violinist and teacher Lyman S. Gerberich, which gave subscription concerts....

Article

Kansas  

Michael Ethen

American rock group. It was formed in Topeka, Kansas, by Phil Ehart (b Coffeyville, KS, 4 Feb 1950; drums), Dave Hope (b 7 Oct 1949; bass guitar), Robby Steinhardt (b 25 May 1950; vocals, violin, viola, cello), Steve Walsh (b St. Louis, MO, 15 June 1951; vocals, keyboards, synthesizers, percussion), guitarist Rich Williams (b Topeka, KS, 1 Feb 1950), and Kerry Livgren (b Topeka, KS, 18 Sept 1949; guitar and keyboards). Their albums characteristically alternate between guitar-driven boogie-rock tracks and complex symphonic arrangements featuring mercurial time signatures.

Kansas was America’s unlikely answer to British progressive rock. They were perceived as wan rehashing of a genuine article by British devotees, to whom it appeared incongruous that rock-and-blues Midwesterners would aspire to more elaborate forms. Early iconography respected the contentious place of slavery in antebellum Kansas, and corresponding lyrics foregrounded notions of freedom, which appealed particularly to young male fans preferring imaginative quests over empty idolization. A cult following blossomed into mainstream success as ...

Article

John L. Clark

The term “stock arrangement” was used commonly to describe a wide variety of published orchestrations sold by publishing houses from the first years of the 20th century through the 1950s. While these arrangements were issued for many different ensembles of varying size and musical style (including theater orchestras, military bands, and small combinations such as saxophone quartets), the term today typically refers to those made for dance bands during the period.

In the 1910s the most common instrumentation for stock arrangements of commercial music was two trumpets, trombone, horns in F, clarinet, flute, oboe, bassoon, string quartet, piano, banjo/guitar, bass/tuba, and drums. With the explosion in popularity of saxophones and the first jazz recordings, this basic instrumentation grew to include alto, tenor, and C-melody saxophones by 1920. Typically, these orchestrations were homophonic featuring little counterpoint or variation, with instruments being organized by register rather than family.

By the early 1920s, dance bands had become the principal vehicle for popular music in America. Recordings by Art Hickman, Paul Whiteman, and Fletcher Henderson followed the trend towards larger groups subdivided into definite sections of brass and woodwinds. While orchestrations for theater orchestra were still produced using the larger instrumentation, the “Modern Dance Orchestra” had reduced it to two trumpets, trombone, three saxophones (two altos and a tenor, with each doubling on clarinets, other saxophones, and sometimes flute and oboe). Arrangers such as Arthur Lange, Elmer Schoebel, and Mel Stitzel became well known in the industry for the antiphonal treatment of the sections and incorporation of jazz elements. While many stocks were used by bands on recordings, some (such as those in the Melrose Syncopation Series) were adaptations of popular recordings by jazz musicians such as King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton....

Article

Carol J. Oja and Glenda Goodman

Professional organization conceived as the Sonneck Society in 1973—with an official founding two years later—to foster the study and performance of American music. The Society for American Music’s (SAM) mission is “to stimulate the appreciation, performance, creation, and study of American musics of all eras and in all their diversity, including the full range of activities and institutions associated with these musics.” “America” encompasses North America, including Central America and the Caribbean, and “aspects of its cultures everywhere in the world.” It published the journal American Music from 1983 to 2006; its official publication became Journal of the Society for American Music in 2007. In 1995 the Society for American Music became a member of the American Council for Learned Societies.

Established just before the US Bicentennial, the Sonneck Society sought to address the frustration of scholars and musicians as they faced a hegemonic fixation on European repertories within the academy. Often finding themselves unwelcome in musicology departments, mid-century scholars of American music found intellectual affinities with ethnomusicologists, music educators, folklorists, social historians, music critics, and like-minded performers. Thus in an era when citizen-activism was shaping both the Civil Rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War, musicians and scholars mounted a challenge to the value systems that defined the academic status quo. This same period saw the rise of social history and an increasing commitment to honoring minority voices and perspectives in academia, including Women’s and Gender Studies, Black Studies, Ethnic Studies, and American Studies broadly conceived. Many scholars in the Society heeded the call to action from these new fields, bringing a conscientious engagement with social history to the serious study of music....

Article

Singing  

Jonathan Greenberg

Singing has been important to musical practice in almost all communities across every period of American history. The following descriptions account for two major aspects of singing in the United States: its place within particular cultures and periods, and the singing styles used in those cultures. Most of American music history lacks detailed scholarship devoted to singing, and singing styles are not yet well understood, but the first decade of the 21st century has sparked new interest in singing within academic music studies.

For further treatment of singing practices, see broader entries on African american music and Native american music and articles dedicated to practices such as Art music , Barbershop quartet singing , Blues, Crooning , Gospel music , Hymnody , Jazz , Minstrelsy , Musical , Musical theater , New wave , Opera , Pop , Psalmody , Punk , Rap , Rhythm-and-blues , Rock , Shape-note hymnody , and Work songs .

Among free colonists, the primary locus of singing was in the church. Calvinist New England churches discouraged musical instruments in services; psalms were usually learned by rote and were performed using a technique called ...

Article

Frederic Woodbridge Wilson

revised by David Francis Urrows

(b New York, NY, April 21, 1899; d Cambridge, MA, July 9, 1984).American composer and educator. He studied at Harvard University (AB 1920, MA 1922), where his teachers included a.t. Davison , edward burlingame Hill , and Walter Spalding, as well as privately with ernest Bloch in New York. In 1922 a Prix de Rome enabled him to study under Felix Lamond at the American Academy. Here he came into contact with the leading trends of 20th-century European music, and particularly with the Italian group known as the “composers of the eighties.” He also studied privately with Gian Francesco Malipiero, who influenced both his compositions and his interest in musicology. After three years he returned to New York. In 1927 he was appointed organist and lecturer in music at Wellesley College, a position he left in 1929 to take up a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Two years later he embarked on a three-year investigation of music education commissioned by the Association of American Colleges. His research resulted in an influential report, ...

Article

Rodney Lister

(Victor )

(b New York, NY, May 15, 1912; d Boston, MA, Oct 7, 2003). American composer and critic. He was a student at the Townsend Harris High School, the College of the City of New York, and New York University (BS 1934). During these years he espoused leftist politics and was a member—along with Bernard Herrmann, Jerome Moross, Israel Citkowitz, Vivian Fine, Elie Siegmeister, and others—of various radical composers’ groups including the Young Composers Group that formed around Aaron Copland. He was a fellowship student in the newly formed Professional Division of the Longy School of Music (1935–7) concurrently with graduate studies at Harvard University (MA 1936), where he trained in musicology with Hugo Leichtentritt, aesthetics with D.W. Prall, and theory and analysis with walter Piston . From 1937 to 1939 he studied theory with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He taught at Mills College (1939–42...

Article

Steven Johnson

revised by Lars Helgert

(Elden )

(b Seattle, WA, May 26, 1938). American composer, pianist, and author. He began composition studies at age 11 with John Verrall at the University of Washington (he completed his BA there in 1958). His studies continued with darius Milhaud at Mills College from 1958–61 (MA 1961) and with both Milhaud and Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatoire. After working with leland Smith at Stanford University (DMA 1964), he taught at the University of Washington (1965–6) and Queens College, CUNY (1966–8). While in New York he developed a style of playing ragtime that, through concerts and recordings, placed him in the forefront of the ragtime revival. He has also composed original rags, among them Graceful Ghost. From 1968 to 1970 he was composer-in-residence at the Yale University Drama School and the New York University School of the Arts. He taught at the University of Michigan from ...

Article

Charles Carson and Judy Tsou

(Knowles )

(b Red Bank, NJ, Nov 11, 1954). American musicologist. He was educated at Princeton University (AB 1976) and the University of California, Berkeley (MA 1979; PhD 1985), where he studied with Olly W. Wilson and Joseph Kerman. DeVeaux taught at Humboldt State University, California (1981–2), before taking up his current position at the University of Virginia in 1983. DeVeaux’s main research focus is jazz studies. His 1991 seminal article, “Constructing the Jazz Tradition,” established him as a leading voice in what has been called the “new jazz studies,” which seeks to explore issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and class in relation to both jazz repertoires and the creation of historical narratives. In The Birth of Bebop (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1997), he further explores the ways in which the social, economic, and political contexts of the bebop era continue to influence jazz criticism and reception. In ...

Article

Banjo  

Jay Scott Odell and Robert B. Winans

A plucked string instrument with a long guitar-like neck and a circular soundtable, usually called the “head,” of tautly stretched parchment or skin (now usually plastic), against which the bridge is pressed by the strings. The banjo and its variants, classified as plucked lute chordophones, have had long and widespread popularity as folk, parlor, and professional entertainers’ instruments. It used to be speculated that the name of the instrument probably derived from the Portuguese or Spanish bandore, but another possibility, at least as likely, comes out of recent research into West African plucked lute traditions, which has identified at least six traditional plucked lutes whose necks are made from a thick stalk of papyrus, known throughout the Senegambian region by the Mande term “bang” (also “bangoe,” “bangjolo,” “bangjulo,” “bung,” “bungo”).

The modern five-string banjo is normally fitted with raised frets and strung with steel wire strings. It is tuned g...

Article

Caroline Polk O’meara

(New York City)

A collection of Manhattan neighborhoods south of 14th Street, several of which—including Greenwich Village, SoHo, and the Lower East Side—have fostered musical movements in the post-war era. The terms “downtown music” and “music downtown” have been used to refer to different genres—including popular, jazz, avant-garde, and concert music, among others—but they also often indicate the ways such categories have become increasingly blurred since the 1970s.

Urban folk music, originating in Greenwich Village and featuring artists such as Bob Dylan and the Holy Modal Rounders, was the first distinctly Downtown musical movement of the post-war era. By the late 1960s young musicians and artists of all types were priced out of the Village and began moving east, creating new music and arts communities. During this period the counterculture in New York found its home in the tenements of the Lower East Side.

In the late 1960s and early 70s, the variability of Manhattan’s real estate market shifted the locus of the avant-garde to the manufacturing lofts of SoHo. Composers, including Carla Bley, Philip Glass, and Meredith Monk, held events in loft spaces and venues such as Phill Niblock’s Experimental Intermedia Foundation (established ...

Article

Theo Cateforis

Nostalgia refers to an emotional longing for home or an idealized time past, particularly of one’s childhood or youth. While the term’s roots are in the late 17th century, when it first appeared as a medical diagnosis for homesick soldiers, its connection to American music dates to the 19th century. Nostalgia has been associated with various genres and styles, ranging from Tin Pan Alley songs and Hollywood film scores to country and southern rock, as well as the numerous revivals, such as sacred harp singing and neo-swing, that emerged throughout the 20th century. No matter what musical shape nostalgia has taken, scholars have sought to illuminate the historical, social, and cultural conditions responsible for its emergence.

Two general strands of nostalgic songwriting dominated the 19th century. The first of these consisted of parlor ballads that conjured idyllic memories of female subjects lost to the passage of time, or in many cases even death. These songs, which found their largest audience in middle-class domestic settings, echoed the larger vogue for sentimentality in American culture at that time. The second type encompassed the numerous blackface minstrel songs that painted a nostalgic portrait of home and family life on the southern plantation. These were first popularized in the 1840s by white Northern songwriters, who drew on the suggestive power of a mythologized Old South as a pastoral alternative to the industrialization that was transforming the northern landscape. In the postwar years, as African American performers took to the minstrel stage, the nostalgic plantation song remained an important part of the repertory, perpetuating a southern racial fantasy that belied the Reconstruction’s traumatic ruptures....

Article

Árni Heimir Ingólfsson

(b Berlin, May 17, 1912; d Lund, March 10, 1974). Icelandic musicologist, conductor and composer of German birth . The son of the musicologist Otto Abraham, he studied in Berlin at the Hochschule für Musik (1932–4) and privately with Sachs. After leaving Germany in 1934, he continued his studies with Scherchen in Paris and then moved to Iceland in 1935, becoming an Icelandic citizen in 1947. He gained the doctorate from the University of Iceland in 1959 with a dissertation on a 14th-century rhymed office for St Thorlakur, the patron saint of Iceland. He taught musicology, theory and conducting at the Reykjavík College of Music, and was appointed docent at the theological faculty of the University of Iceland in 1966. He served as music director of the Icelandic Lutheran church (1961–74) and prepared a thoroughly revised edition of the Lutheran hymnal (first ed. 1972)....