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

By Isaac Goldberg | Go to book overview

7. Sousa, De Koven, and--Principally --Victor Herbert

PARALLEL to the two chief currents of our popular song in the Nineties flowed yet another stream: that of the polite musical comedy. Three names stood out: John Philip Sousa, Reginald de Koven and Victor Herbert. Sousa, the oldest, survives his compeers, and this may be a symbol. For, underneath the changing fashions of our popular music, the martial rhythms of the typical Sousa piece beat as strong as ever. The march, like the waltz, is a fundamental pattern. It was the historical function of Sousa, indeed, to quicken the tempo of our national life by introducing, as rival to the Strauss waltz, a two-step with all the time-beats of the national psychology. It is a pretty question for our musical historians--if they deign to consider so plebeian an inquiry--to discover just how the Strauss waltz degenerated into the almost undistinguished 3-4 measures of the waltz as Tin Pan Alley wrote it in the Nineties. Of the Straussian product, someone had said, not too untruly, that "it is calculated to strangle expiring virtue in its tendrils." Our Alley waltzes--read the words if you don't believe it--were calculated to strangle toughly resistant vice.

Sousa ( 1856- ), though American-born and American-educated, was trained in the tradition of Offenbach and Sullivan. Before he was appointed, in 1880, leader of the United States

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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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