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Popular music in the United States is made to attract the largest possible audience. There is not any type of formal training that is required to appreciate it, and it is usually vocal. Its subject matter is attractive to almost everyone because many people go through similar experiences in life to relate to the lyrics that are in popular music. The subject matter of popular music is often love and sex. The style and structure of popular music are usually simple and repetitive. The repetitiveness of lyrics in popular music is what makes the song stuck in the listeners head. Which oftentimes makes the listener want to play to the song again because the lyrics are so stuck in their head. The three most important elements in popular music are the words, the rhythm, and the melody. Different types of popular music gravitate towards using one of the three elements over the other two. For example, the most frequently used element of rock music is the driving rhythm. The words are the most frequently used element of country music because country music typically tells a story. In pop ballads, the smooth melody creates a special atmosphere, which means that pop ballads typically use melody as a factor over the other two. American popular music has a long history, beginning around the mid-nineteenth century. Popular songs usually have simple harmonies and repetitive rhythms. However, remarkable songs of the twenties, thirties, and forties have great melodies and clever lyrics. At that time, jazz and popular music became strong mutual influences (Yudkin, 2010). Three important questions to answer are: Who have been the biggest influences? Who were the earliest popular musicians, and how did they influence new genres and styles? And what early popular musicians before 1960 have been copied, or had music and lyrics directly used in new songs since the 1960’s?
Band music was the first of the three major musical influences on jazz music. People who have been the biggest influences of jazz music are Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong. The only time period in the twentieth century when jazz music could authentically be named a popular music was during the 1930s, known as the Swing Era or the Big Band Era. Swing Bands were elegant, extravagant, and did not put much emphasis on individual accomplishment than on how the group sounded as a whole. This did not stop one of the greatest bandleaders, Duke Ellington, from displaying some of the strongest individual players of the era as members of his band or from showcasing his own remarkably original and sophisticated compositions.
The earliest popular musicians in the United States have influenced new genres and styles in many different ways. The earliest popular musicians in the United States are Stephen Foster, Charles K. Harris, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley. The first important songwriter was Stephen Foster. George Christie, who led the famous performing troupe, Christie’s Minstrels, was one of the first performers who introduced Foster’s songs. The minstrels were most known for the racist content of their routines and their portrayal of African Americans. But they also spread and popularized songs that rose above these circumstances. After seeing the success achieved by Foster and other songwriters, music publishers started to notice the commercial potential of popular music. Charles K. Harris is a songwriter who started his own publishing company. Harris also had a hit song in 1892. One of the most productive periods in the history of American popular song came in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s (Yudkin, 2010). It was the era of great songwriters such as Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Richard Rodgers, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, and of the popular singers such as Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. It was also the era of new technologies that revolutionized popular music. Sound movies, radio, and the phonograph all hit their stride in the 1920s, and all three supported and promoted popular songs. The early influences on rock and roll were many and varied. The combination of slow blues singing with a harder, more rhythmic accompaniment was the first and the most important. It was known as rhythm and blues. Little Richard and Chuck Berry were very important figures in the early growth of rock and roll. Little Richard and his group were created some of the early hits of rock and roll. Chuck Berry was not like all of the other famous rock stars of the fifties because unlike them, he wrote all of his music himself. (Yudkin, 2010). Another early influence on rock and roll was country music. Before the term “rock and roll” was infinitely used, people used to refer to the sound of Elvis Presley and others as “rockabilly,” which was the combination of the drive of rhythm and blues with components of country and western, a style that was popular in the rural South (Yudkin, 2010).
Some of the early popular musicians before the 1960s that have been copied, or had music and lyrics directly used in new songs since the 1960’s are Johnny Marks with his song “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven”, Patty Hill and Mildred Hill’s “Happy Birthday to You”, and Irving Berlin’s “Always”. Songwriter, Johnny Marks, had his hit song “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” copied plenty of times by many other great artists. “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” was re-made by many other artists such as Bing Crosby, The Robertsons, Burl Ives, The Temptations, John Denver, William Hung, Babyface, and Mary J. Blige. Johnny Marks influenced all of those great artists to re-make his cleverly written song years after he released the original song in 1949. “Roll Over Beethoven” was one of Chuck Berry’s songs that were covered by The Beatles. Chuck Berry influenced The Beatles to cover a song of his that was originally released in 1956. The Beatles release their cover to the song in 1963. The original birthday song, “Happy Birthday to You,” was released in 1893 by Patty Hill and her sister, Mildred Hill. Patty Hill and her sister influenced a great artist named Stevie Wonder to remake their song. Stevie Wonder put a twist on his version making the “Happy Birthday to You” song more upbeat. Stevie Wonder’s version came out in 1981. Irving Berlin released his popular song “Always” in 1925. Berlin influenced Diana Ross ; The Supremes to sing a cover to his song in 1968. Diana Ross ; The Supremes performed their Motown-styled version of the song in a tribute to Irving Berlin on The Ed Sullivan Show.
In conclusion, people who have been the biggest influences of jazz music are Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong. Stephen Foster and other songwriters introduced popular music. Music publishers began to realize the commercial potential of popular music after seeing Stephen Foster’s success along with other songwriters’ success. After seeing their success, music publishers joined the popular music genre. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley were some of the earliest popular musicians that were vital to the growth and influence of rock and roll. Musicians such as Johnny Marks, Chuck Berry, Patty and Mildred Hill, and Irving Berlin have produced songs before the 1960’s that have been re-made since the 1960’s by some of the greatest artists of all time.

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