The Happy Music Of The 1920s
The 1920s saw the widespread adoption of recorded music and the creation of many related subcultures. This was also a decade characterized by rapid changes in fashion, morals, and economics.
The outbreak of World War I had signaled a period of upheaval that would continue into the 1920s. However, these were also exciting times for music lovers everywhere. Broader adoption of recorded music resulted in a huge increase in demand for sheet music and musical performances. This was an era when jazz, ragtime, and the Charleston all enjoyed peak popularity, and with them came new opportunities for performers, producers, and audiences alike. Whether you enjoy listening to classic recordings from this time period or prefer something more modern, there’s something here for everyone who loves music from this dynamic decade.
Jazz is an improvised and often experimental form of music. It grew in popularity throughout the 1910s, and remained a major part of the music scene in the 1920s.
It originated in New Orleans and was brought to the rest of America by African-American musicians. The music of this era was very different from today's jazz music, which is a more structured form of music. More than any other form of music, jazz was characterized by improvisation and experimentation.
A lot of jazz from this period still sounds fresh and modern today. Some of the most iconic jazz musicians of the era were Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Bix Beiderbecke, and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.
The 1920s saw the emergence of several notable jazz styles. In the early years, New Orleans jazz was a major source of inspiration for the music’s pioneers, including legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong. Later in the decade, the influence of the Charleston dance craze saw the creation of a new subgenre called swing, which was characterized by a strong, almost percussive rhythm.
The Charleston was a wildly popular dance craze that swept the nation in the early 1920s. It originated in African-American communities in the Southern U.S. and was characterized by a fluid, energetic style. The dance was quickly adopted by audiences across the country and enjoyed particular popularity among the younger generation.
The Charleston was one of the first widely popular fashions inspired both by African-American culture and the new music of the era. Musicians began incorporating its rhythms into their music, creating a new genre. The Charleston quickly spread to other parts of the world, becoming a global phenomenon and it became closely associated with the flapper subculture and was often performed at wild parties and nightclubs. It became a symbol of the new era of independence for women.
Ragtime is an early form of jazz that was popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is a syncopated form of music that often features a strong piano melody along with percussion instruments such as the drum, bass, and/or guitar. Ragtime originated in African-American communities in the Southern U.S. and was then adopted by audiences across the country. It was particularly popular in the early years of the 20th century and remains influential among those who study and practice early forms of jazz. Ragtime enjoyed a second wave of popularity during the 1920s, when it became closely associated with the Charleston and other new styles of popular music.
It typically features piano, violin, and/or banjo. The main defining feature of ragtime is the deliberate displacement of rhythms, usually by a half-beat or a full beat. The striking of the piano keys was often accented to produce a percussive effect, which was then accented further by a drummer.
Ragtime is characterized by a lively, exciting, and “jazzy” sound. It is often a very easy form of music to dance to.
Musicians and Recordings That Shaped the 1920s
- Louis Armstrong - Louis Armstrong is considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of jazz. His distinctively soulful and jazzy style of singing shaped the sound of the 1920s and 1930s, and he's one of the most famous musicians of all time. His most famous recordings from the 1920s include "West End Blues", "Stringing the Blues", and "Sunshine Blues".
- Ella Fitzgerald - Ella Fitzgerald was one of the most famous jazz singers of the 1920s, and she is considered to be one of the greatest vocalists of all time. Her distinctively soulful and jazzy style of singing shaped the sound of the 1920s and 1930s, and she is one of the most famous musicians of the era. Her most famous recordings from the 1920s include "All of Me", "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", and "Did You Ever Notice?".
- Bix Beiderbecke - Bix Beiderbecke is considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of jazz. His distinctively soulful and jazzy style of playing the cornet shaped the sound of the 1920s, and he is one of the most celebrated musicians of all time. His most famous recordings from the 1920s include "Fletcher Henderson", "Singin' the Blues", and "Davenport Blues".
- Original Dixieland Jazz Band - The Original Dixieland Jazz Band is considered to be one of the most influential figures in the history of jazz. They were the first group to record and commercially release jazz music, and they shaped the sound of the 1920s. Their most famous recordings from the 1920s include "Indiana", "Wolverine Blues", and "Black Bottom Stomp".
The 1920s was a decade that saw the widespread adoption of recorded music and the creation of many related subcultures. This was also a decade characterized by rapid changes in fashion, morals, and economics. The outbreak of World War I signaled a period of upheaval that would continue into the 1920s. However, these were also exciting times for music lovers everywhere, who could now enjoy either live performances or recorded music in the comfort of their own homes.