Academic journal article Notes

The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University

Academic journal article Notes

The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University

Article excerpt

The Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University (Paul F. Wells, director) has received a grant of $46,636 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support the cataloging and digitization of the Kenneth S. Goldstein Collection of American Song Broadsides. The Goldstein Collection, acquired by the center in 1994, consists of approximately thirty-three hundred broadsides, and is one of the largest such collections in the country.

Song broadsides (sometimes called "song sheets") were a common and inexpensive medium through which popular songs and ballads were commercially disseminated from the sixteenth through the early twentieth centuries. Broadsides normally contained only lyrics, as simple text was much easier and cheaper to typeset and print than was musical notation, according to Paul Wells. "They were sold to people who were not affluent enough to own a piano or who were not musically literate," Wells said. "Broadsides offer a window into the musical tastes of a different class of people than those who were buying sheet music of the same period." Most of the items in the Goldstein Collection date from the nineteenth century.

Numerous older traditional ballads were printed in broadside form, as were contemporaneous narrative songs that documented natural disasters, battles, political events, tragic accidents, and other aspects of daily life. Because much of the song material printed on broadsides was topical in nature, they provide source materials not only for the examination of the creation and consumption of popular song in the United States, but also for research into a broad spectrum of American culture. …

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