Tin Pan Alley: A Chronicle of the American Popular Music Racket

By Isaac Goldberg | Go to book overview

5. The Rise of Tin Pan Alley

Hearts and Flowers.

THE songs of a people are rarely written by great poets and great composers. They are sourced, usually, in simplicity and flow down the hills of mediocrity into the vast sea of the undying--if not the immortal--commonplace. In musical illiteracy they are born; in the hearts and on the lips of the musically illiterate or semi-literate they live their brief lives and die. Or, to be more exact, are forever reborn, with a slight change of word, a deft twist in tune. Popular music is nothing new. It is older, by centuries, than the music of the masters. By that very token it carries an appeal that reaches-- if we are quite honest with ourselves--below the stratum of our cultivated taste to the levels on which the best of us, so little different from the worst, live in an unacknowledged harmony with earth's simplest creatures.

Popular song, musically, means in essence melody. Harmony, a late arrival in the evolution of music, is a correspondingly late arrival in the history of personal taste. There is music of the heels, music of the heart, music of the head. That, of course, is an oversimplified scheme, but it expresses vividly the respective predominance of rhythm, melody and harmony. The songs and dances made popular by the long era of the minstrel show reveal, in their exceedingly simple structure, a marked predominance of the

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Tin Pan Alley: A Chronicle of the American Popular Music Racket
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • About the Author vi
  • Introduction vii
  • Table of Contents xiii
  • List of Illustrations xv
  • 1. ≪vamp Till Ready . . .≫ 1
  • 2. Before the Flood 13
  • 3. Pearls of Minstrelsy 31
  • 4. Blackface into White 60
  • 5. the Rise of Tin Pan Alley 84
  • 6. the Rise of Tin Pan Alley: Ragtime 139
  • 7- Sousa, De Koven, And--Principally --Victor Herbert 178
  • 8. Ballyhoo 197
  • 9. Transition 234
  • 10. King Jazz 259
  • 11. Bye, Bye, Theme Song 297
  • 12. Codetta 320
  • Acknowledgments 326
  • Index 329
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