Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Bessie Smith, Scott Joplin - just some of the names that made music in the twenties as melodious and far reaching as it was, and is even today. Some of the most soulful music of all times can be traced back to that era when blues and jazz become a part of mainstream music. In this article, we tell you more about music from that decade and the chief influences and genres from then.
Study the music of the era known as the twenties and you will learn that there were three genres of music that were the most popular; ragtime, blues, and jazz. In fact the popularity of jazz was so widespread, that this era was popularly known as jazz age.
There were many factors that were responsible for the popularity of jazz music and chief among them was the use of radio and phonograph records which allowed music to reach many homes. It is estimated that in the year 1927 almost 100 million phonograph records were sold in America alone. But the road to popularity was not all smooth. In fact when jazz first broke out on the scene, it was known as the devil's music and its effect on youth was hugely debated. The ferocity of the debate could be compared to the debate regarding the effect of death metal on the kids today. In fact critics often put down the style, calling it a passing trend. The genre was defended by many jazz musicians and obviously today we know whose views held forth.
Blues was another genre of music that became a part of mainstream music and this popularity saw an increase in fan base for singers like Bessie Smith. In fact record companies came up with the strategy of targeting these records primarily at an audience comprising African-Americans. Blues was responsible for the birth of the genres derived from it including delta blues and Piedmont blues.
What is still not widely known is that jazz became popular for dancing only later. The earliest form of jazz that was used for dancing was more an evolution from the blues and ragtime music. Musicians incorporated ragtime influences but did not use the musical devices that were synonymous with jazz. Ragtime music was composed around the piano and was a refined form of the cakewalk dance music which had African-American origins. One of the most famous performers of the genre was Scott Joplin. In a few years though, somewhere around the mid 1920s, jazz music became so popular that everywhere, from dance halls to roadhouses, jazz was the prevalent music. Dance forms were introduced to adapt dancing to the upbeat music that was so synonymous with jazz. Some of the more popular musicians from the era were of course, Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines. With the popularity of the style of music for dancing, many dance forms evolved, which became quite the rage. Caucasian audiences were first introduced to these forms of dancing through vaudeville shows.
Another style of music that achieved great popularity in the 1920s was the music of the Broadway. In fact there was one season, in which as many as 50 musicals opened on Broadway. People were ready to spend money on going to Broadway and watching these musicals despite the expense that could be involved. The people producing these shows were dedicated individuals who took musical theater very seriously and spent quite a bit of time, energy, and money ensuring that the musicals made were entertaining. Two of the most popular musicals of the era were Sally and No, No, Nanette.
Music from the twenties had varied influences and had a very wide range. It was also a reflection of the times and the social situation of the era. Lyrics and music were often inspired by what was happening around them. It was an era that will go down in history as one that made a huge contribution to the world of music.