Popular Music

Music has been an integral part of society, but the term popular music is a phenomenon of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries Popular music, as defined in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, is the music that has developed since the industrialization in the 1800's, which is in line with the tastes and interests of the urban middle class. This includes a wide range of music genres, from vaudeville and minstrel shows to heavy metal. Popular music and pop music are two terms that could be easily mistaken as synonyms. However, pop music appeared in the mid-1950s to describe the music style that evolved from the rock'n roll revolution. Unlike folk music, the authors of popular music and songs are known and usually professionals. Oral transmission is not included in the dissemination of music.

A number of factors led to the rise of popular music. Access to music became much easier in the nineteenth century thanks to the development of new technologies such as the player piano and phonograph. In the 1920s the sound film and the radio made music reproduction easier. Another factor that contributed to the rise of popular music was the consumer culture. More and more people began to identify themselves with the way they spend their spare time as consumers and not with their work. The rise of the advertising sector also gave impetus to the spread of popular music with piano and phonograph makers pouring huge amounts of money in advertising their products. The growing industrialization in the production of music also played a role. Frederick Taylor (1856-1915) and Henry Ford (1863-1947) were the source for the development of various management techniques in music which made music more like a business.

Tin Pan Alley became the first popular song-publishing industry in the 1890s. At that time a new type of play was created, the musical, which was based on the European operetta. Starting also in the 1890s, African Americans began combining African rhythms with European musical structures, which led to the creation of jazz. Along with the development of all those factors and techniques, new styles and genres appeared and flourished, including jazz, blues and other African American styles.

In the early 1900s, popular music was dominated by vaudeville theaters and dance halls whose popularity was growing. A new invention, the gramophone player also helped to disseminate music. The record industry in the United States and Britain grew rapidly at the start of the 20th century.

In the early 1920s music broadcasting on the radio started which also contributed to the spread of popular songs to more people and played the biggest role. To begin with, radio broadcasts were live and the sensitivity of microphones resulted in a new style of singing called crooning. The first mass-media popular music super stars, including Rudy Vallye (1901-1986) and Bing Crosby (1903-1977), were the result of this style and prepared the way for Frank Sinatra (1915-1998) and Elvis Presley(1935-1977).

Popular music rose drastically after the World War II as costs related to the production of recordings were significantly reduced after the magnetic tape was invented. Rock and roll, based on African American blues, was a very popular style in the postwar period.

An essential factor for disseminating popular music in the 1950s and 1960s was the television. In the 1960s, engineers and technology experts became very important as new recording technologies, including multitrack recorders, developed. After World War II, America dominated popular music. By the middle of the 20th century many African Americans moved to big cities in the North of the country which led to the mixing of various musical elements with jazz rhythm. In this way blues Rock and roll was created with its pioneer Elvis Presley, whose work was a mixture of rhythm and blues and country music.

The 1960s saw the rise of British rock groups, such as the Beatles, who became very popular around the globe. The recording industry continued to consolidate in the following decade and in the end it was dominated by several big organizations. In the 1990s, recording companies were merged with film, television, magazines and other media companies as part of the trend of inter-media consolidation. The introduction of digital technology and the increasing use of computers and Internet in the 1990s also helped disseminate popular music. In the 21st century Europeans and Americans are dominating popular music, which has turned into a multibillion-dollar business. European and American music has an influence on many local styles globally.

Popular Music: Selected full-text books and articles

Analyzing Popular Music By Allan F. Moore Cambridge University Press, 2003
Breaking Records: 100 Years of Hits By William Ruhlmann Routledge, 2004
Performing Rites: Evaluating Popular Music By Simon Frith Oxford University Press, 1998
All Shook Up: How Rock 'n' Roll Changed America By Glenn C. Altschuler Oxford University Press, 2003
Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop By Guthrie P. Ramsey Jr University of California Press, 2003
Sound Tracks: Popular Music, Identity, and Place By John Connell; Chris Gibson Routledge, 2003
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