Tag Archive | music fads

Exotic Numbers: Tin Pan Alley Daydreams about the Orient

In the first two decades of the twentieth century, robust development in the musical business and its assortment of technologies had turned every aspect of the American pop song industry on its head. At the turn of the twentieth century, rags, cakewalks and coon songs had captured the attention of the music business, but after twenty years, the entire vocabulary of music industry had morphed into jazz, blues, and fox trots. Male barbershop quartets which had a considerable presence on record for the entire Ragtime Era, relented their popularity while instrumental jazz orchestras and their celebrity bandleaders became the preferred musical fashion for the 1920s and 1930s. The entire Ragtime Era brought changes in musical culture from domestic piano culture to passive entertainments of mechanical music reproduction of player pianos and talking machines. Consequently, the recording industry had become a multimillion-dollar business which “shoved the piano down a sharply steeped slope.”[1] The voices that consumers were hearing on record had undergone dramatic demographic change as well between these two decades. Instead of white singers performing coon songs in black dialect, a style that had been in vogue circa 1900, two decades later, African-American singers and musicians like “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith and Louis Armstrong found mainstream success, so much so that niche labels like Okeh, Ajax and Paramount came into business releasing so-called “race records” with the increasing demand for African-American musicians who had “greater influence upon American culture.”[2] The recording industry would undergo further dramatic changes just a few years later when electronics put an end to turn-of-the-century acoustic methods of recording and transmitted music directly into the home via radio. With all of this change and sheet music in a slowly declining state, a new song trend about foreign and exotic lands would make a stylish impact on sheet music in the early Jazz Era.

At the beginning of the Jazz Era in the late 1910s and early 1920s, popular culture’s interest in Asian and Middle Eastern things had been renewed and riding the trend were the composers and lyricists of Tin Pan alley; a song trend featuring exotic and oriental lands had come to the market. The trend was noticeable with illustrations of oriental themes on sheet music and lyrics which describe exotic people and their mannerisms. The trend also had its own distinctive sound with a specific beat and Jazz-styled chords and intervals in melodies. The word oriental was a convenient word for lyricists to use since it adds an element of novelty without being terribly specific and it was used to describe everything to environment to personal appearance. However, looking more deeply at the trend in exotic songs, the oriental trend featured song-writing techniques which had been in use by Tin Pan Alley for years. With geography and distance between people inherent parts of the trend in oriental songs, sentimental torch songs of unrequited love, make up a sizeable majority of these songs. There were cases in which the oriental trend had brought about funny people engaged in funny situations in the Orient, including the sex appeal of the harem and curious encounters with Sultans. However, within the trend in oriental songs, there were ways in which oriental elements of these songs had been used beyond the scope of the exotic trend. Songs with dated formats, song-writing buzzwords used for non-oriental purposes and caricatures of Chinese people had been influenced by the trend in oriental songs. By 1924, the trend had subsided, but with so much activity in the pop song market, had been a noticeable trend than a prevailing fad.

Oriental influence on pop culture was nothing new to Americans in the 1920s, in fact popular culture had been impacted by interest in the East for decades. After Japan and China had been opened up for western trade in the nineteenth century, Asian styles of decorative arts became fashionable in American and Europe homes and Western companies found great success with their lines of Chinoiserie or Japonisme designed domestic arts. Decorative plants like azaleas and rhododendrons became an increasingly popular choice in Western gardens after their export from China during the nineteenth century.[3] Noel Fahden Briceno notes that expositions in Philadelphia in 1876, Chicago in 1893 and Buffalo in 1900 brought Asian arts to the attention of even more American consumers and successive waves in availability for Chinoiserie items followed each exposition.[4] Middle Eastern, particularly Egyptian motifs also found their place in the Western decorative market including obelisks, sphinxes, and pyramids and images of Cleopatra. The trend was so pervasive throughout the history of decorative arts that the term Egyptomania is used to describe the phenomenon.[5] Exotic places and people were nothing new to the pop song market either by 1920; numerous songs during the Ragtime era feature distant lands including titles like “Egypt” (1903), “Turkish Trophies” (1909), “Under the Oriental Moon” (1909), and “an Indian isle,”[6] the setting of the popular “I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers” from 1909. By 1919 following the conclusion to the First World War, a renewed interest in all things Asian, Middle Eastern and Egyptian had come into fashion. Advertising brought exotic portrayals of girls in Egyptian wardrobe hawking everything from Cusenier Cognac to Egyptian Luxury Cigarettes to Palmolive Shampoo.[7] By 1919, popular movies often depicted oriental themes including The Fall of Babylon, Harakiri, Broken Blossoms and Auction of Souls became some of the most popular films of that year.[8] Egyptomania would be reignited in America in 1922, followed the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.[9] The pop song market would also reflect this renewed interest with the East and stylish sheet music featuring Middle Eastern landscapes, fashion accessories on beautiful exotic women and lyrics which reflected the distant nature of the Orient. When exotic and oriental songs came onto the pop song market in the late 1910s, pop culture had already experienced various waves of oriental influence and was enjoying a resurgent spike in interest in oriental and exotic themes.

With renewed interest in the Orient, the subsequent pop song trend prominently offered music consumers foreign settings; geography consequently plays a central role in oriental songs. Naturally, the most effective way to introduce a song’s distant and exotic setting is to style the sheet music covers as much as possible. Cover art is musical advertisement; it is the first thing that music consumers see when shopping for music and the decorative nature of the oriental trend was colourfully displayed conspicuously, and Middle Eastern elements had been the prevalent theme on these illustrations. Byron Gay’s “Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose)” features an illustrated scene of camels, caravans and the golden light of sun setting against a desert.[10] The cover art for “Egyptian Moonlight” features illustrations of all things Egyptomania including palm trees and a couple resting beside a slumbering camel.[11] In other songs, the artwork is more specific in detail including a girl wearing fashionable Egyptian-styled clothing and jewellery with towering minarets of a mosque in the background in Olson, Thompson and O’Neill’s “Kharmine.”[12] The cover art of “The Sheik (Of Araby)” features a scene of a sheik clad in a turban and robes embracing his adoring maiden.[13] The description of these far off lands is even more baroque and stylised within the lyrics of the song with geography illustrated in dreamy detail for the sake of the song’s setting. In “Egyptian Moonlight,” the action of the song happens in relief to the Egyptian landscape illustrated rather attractively as “Down where the old dreamy Nile is flowing.”[14] A similar graceful and stylish scene of Egypt can be found in “There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes”

There’s Egypt in your dreamy eyes

A bit of Cairo in your style

The shades of night are in your hair

While fragrant incense seems to the fill the air.[15]

In “Hindustan” the exotic nature of the geography is the most memorable experience for the main character in the song, the landscape is so important that the lyric “where I met her and the world began”[16] emphasises the impact of Hindustan’s geography. “The Sheik (of Araby)” features lyrics which combine descriptions of arid land and robust action, “Over the desert wild and free/Rides the bold Sheik of Araby,”[17] the imagery is amplified by the romantic embrace illustrated on the cover. When the exotic and oriental nature of the songs had come onto the pop song scene, the imagery of the setting both on cover art and within the lyrics became an important addition to define the style of song content.

The protrusion of oriental songs onto the American song market had not just been about the dreamy style of the songs’ locations and decorative nature of sheet music; it had briefly formed its own musical genre with its own distinct sound suited for the tonal sensibilities of the Jazz Era including heavy distinctive beats and interesting combinations of chords. There had developed a distinctive beat to oriental songs, of heavy march-like “four on the floor” beat with the second beat of a measure composed of two accented eighth notes. This beat is a common marker of a new genre of “Oriental Fox Trots” which had come onto the market of sheet music and disc recordings. “The Vamp,” specifically labelled as a “novelty Oriental Fox Trot” according to the title page,[18] incessantly has this rhythm from beginning to end, which is amplified on record between the sparse lines in the verses and refrain.[19] This distinct oriental rhythmic pattern is also found in the accompaniment to Byron Gay’s “Sand Dunes,”[20] Olson, Thompson and O’Neal’s “Kharmine,”[21] and the heavily accented chord accompaniment to Oliver Wallace and Harold Weeks’s “Hindustan.”[22] However, with the sonic changes that Jazz had brought to the music market at the time, the melodies and chord progressions had been stylised with chromatic runs, exotic chords and intervals to add more distinctive musical elements to Tin Pan Alley songs. The song Richard Whiting and Raymond Egan tune “The Japanese Sandman” opens with a descending flourish of syncopated chromatic chords.[23] The melodic lines of “Dardanella” ascend and descend a chromatic scale seemingly without any key at all,[24] the song’s sound was tremendously popular that recordings by Ben Selvin and his Orchestra sold one million records.[25] The chorus of “Hindustan” features some very jazzy blue notes of minor thirds and flatted ninths.[26] The verses of “The Sheik (Of Araby)” prominently feature the Middle Eastern-sounding interval between minor third and raised fourth.[27] For the oriental song trend, songs did not just look pretty with exotic locations on the covers, but also sounded exotic with a distinct rhythmic accompaniment and foreign sounding intervals and chromatic runs.

However, besides the style of the images and the sound of the music, there is another feature to these oriental songs, that their exotic people and places are characteristically described as vaguely as possible with the qualifier oriental. Presumably, the word could mean anything Middle Eastern or Asian and its inclusion is a convenient way for lyricists to describe something exotic without getting bogged down with details. Giving a new song an oriental name representative of a new genre had been a noticeable feature, for example, “Egyptian Moonlight” is specifically labelled as an “Oriental Love Song.” The rhythms of the accompaniments to exotic songs had given way to a new genre of Oriental Fox Trots; a popular recording by Paul Whiteman Orchestra was generically titled “Oriental Fox Trot.[28]” A further examination of the word oriental in reference to song lyrics reveals that there are instances when it is both semantically vacuous, while also at least adding intrigue to the song’s content. In the song “Dardanella” the setting where the title girl resides is described “Beside the Dardanella Bay/Where Oriental breezes play”[29] although oriental does not really mean anything. The oriental geography also becomes part of personal characteristics of people in songs, which adds mystery without much specificity. For example, in “There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes,” a girls is described as having “All the Orient in your smile/Mysterious as River Nile.”[30] The Irving Berlin song “The Syncopated Vamp” links the vocabulary of jazz trends with new with the interest in Egyptomania by describing the main character, a dancing girl, as a “Jazzy Cleopatra.”[31] The title character of the song “Kharmine” is addressed as “Kharmine, my gypsy Kharmine, So Oriental” in the refrain, a statement which is descriptive but as generic as the word oriental. In the song “Chong (He Came from Hong Kong)” the main character of the song Little Allee Ho Chong is described as “played all day in an oriental way,”[32] but that does not actually describe what he is doing. Beyond the dreamy descriptions of geography and the sounds of Jazzy oriental songs, there is also a self-referential quality to these songs which is more semantically vacuous while curiously adding depth in detail.

Among the dreamy landscapes, exotic locations and driving jungle beats rampant during the exotic trend, there is admittedly nothing truly distinctive about the overall lyrical content of exotic songs. Similar to the ways in which love is represented during World War I love songs where couple had been separated by the conflict or the Hawaiian fad of 1915 and 1916 where one half of the couple is in Hawaii and the other is on the mainland, love during the exotic trend is similarly expressed by means of geographic separation. Consequently, most of the trend’s love songs have the lonesome sentiment of torch songs that had been on trend with musical fashion of the late 1910s. Much of the actual lyrical content apart from exotic geography rests upon the content of sentimental torch songs, maudlin feelings set against the backdrop of exotic locations deserts, nights and sand. In “Hindustan,” the main character in the lyrics pines over his love emotionally, “Soft my heart is crying for my love afar.”[33] In “Kharmine,” the title character languishes, “I’m so lonely I want only you…Kharmine, My heart’s aflame/And dearie, I know I’ll be content With you in the orient.”[34] A female perspective in “Burnin’ Sands” addresses love in the same manner, this time, in the middle of a desert suggested by the title. “Across the Burning Sands, There waits my Arab man,”[35] read the lyrics. The title girl in “Dardanella” stands next to the sea waiting for her man to come back to her,

There lives a lonesome maid, Armenian

By Dardanelles with glowing eyes.

She looks across the seas and sighs.”[36]

The main speaker in “Sand Dunes” envisions an idyllic life in the oriental desert, “No clouds of show’rs in the lands of repose, A world of True love is ours, Sweetheart in our little Sand Dunes home” while longing for “my sweet desert rose.”[37] In Irving Berlin’s “Tell Me, Pretty Gypsy,” the speaker in the song consults with a Gypsy fortune-teller to tell him some good news about his future and his love life.[38] While this sentimental torch song element represents a large variety of exotic numbers, not all oriental songs have this sort of sentiment. In “The Sheik (of Araby),” inspired by the imagery of a popular film The Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino,[39] a sheik finds not just a bride, but also a queen, “You’ll rule this land with me; the Sheik of Araby.”[40] The lyrics of “Dardanella” are more about the celebration of the title girl rather than an emphasis on her distance from the speaker in the song.[41] Even though the new fashions of songs with foreign locations had come onto the market, their lyrical content of love, and the consequences of distance of oriental locations resulted in sentimental torch songs.

Of course, whenever the music industry finds a new song trend, there are other facets to consider and not all songs during the exotic wave were about teary proclamations of unattainable love. Humour was also a tremendously important entertaining component to music and during the trend in oriental numbers, songwriters included humour by using out of context Americans in the orient, with awkward encounters with Sultans and visits to their various harems. The easiest method to include funny situations and characters was, of course, to compose a story song which would be equally humorous and also salacious and during the trend in oriental themes, this was accomplished by mentioning harems filled with Sultan’s many wives. These sorts of songs frequently pair men and Sultans in funny exchanges for the sake of getting into the Sultan’s harem to see what goes on inside. The actual description of situations can be humorous as in Irving Berlin’s “Harem Life” in which a Sultan, “a poor old man with young ideas,” has so many wives and yet “each day a wife arrives Fresh from Bagdad.”[42] But funny stories are more about out of context characters, for example in “Lock Me in Your Harem and Throw Away the Key,” the sultan loses his horse and comical Irishman Pat McCann “who happened to be there” is rewarded with a trip to the harem after saving the Sultan’s life.[43] The comical nature of the harem is more than just a funny story to play out in song lyrics, it also adds sex appeal and intrigue about such an exotic concept as a many-wived harem in an exotic land. In “I’m the Guy who Guards the Harem,” extramarital shenanigans are assumed when the Sultan of Turkey “goes out for a spree,” and the title guy guarding the harem finds that “it keeps the wheels a-working in my knob/If Sultan ever saw the way I guard his harem/He would go out and engage someone to guard over me.”[44] The curious nature of the harem excites one character in “Lock Me in Your harem and Throw Away the Key” who has his own physical curiosities for the women inside, his eagerness for departure lacking: “Down in you harem there’s Rosie, Josie, Posie and I know that you spare ‘em/So won’t you let me stay, Locked in the harem with the keys thrown away.”[45] But such comically represented examples of harems are not the only ways in which Sultans and harems are described. In “Dardanella,” the title maiden’s virtue is protected from a frisky Sultan who “said ‘I’ll buy her for my Harem” and her suitor “just told the Sultan to be nice/She can’t be bought for any price.”[46] The use of harem within song lyrics of the Orient add both humour and sex appeal which could get consumer’s attention by being funny and provocative.

With any song trend that come into fashion on the American market, there are ways in which songwriters and lyricists take full advantage of its vocabulary and imagery and during the rash of oriental songs in the late 1910s and early 1920s, there were songs which feature oriental-like words, but have nothing to do with the trend’s most salient feature, the geography of the Middle East. For example, “The Vamp,” specifically labelled as a “Novelty Oriental Fox-trot with words” on the sheet music, has nothing to do with the milieu of the Orient at all, in fact, the song is about a new dance step, the lyrics instruct “ev’rybody do the Vamp/Vamp until you get a cramp.”[47] The song “The Love a Gipsy Knows” lacks all of the characteristic oriental beats, sounds and lush geographical description; instead it is a waltz ballad with lachrymose lyrics reminiscent of pop songs of the 1890s.[48] “Lovin’ Sam (The Sheik of Alabam’)” is a warning about a man in Alabama, i.e. “the sheik,” who can “vamp” a girl better than anyone and steal her away for his own, resulting in an odd combination of oriental vocabulary and Southern Ragtime song.[49] The spike in oriental songs had caused Tin Pan Alley arrangers and lyricists to modify Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakoff’s “Song of India” from the opera Sadko to suit the trend, consequently, various English lyric versions styled for the American pop market became tremendous popularity during the first part of the 1920s, including “Play that ‘Song of India’ Again” from 1921, which uses Rimsky-Korsakoff’s music while the lyrics are referential to the oriental currents in the pop market, “There’s a melody I know that’s always haunting me/Just a melody who strain is always taunting me.”[50] Chinese caricatures had also come onto the pop market during the flurry of exotic songs, but they were about the funny features of Chinese characters living in the United States, instead of exotic locations and these songs focus on a humorous caricature of Chinese people in the lyrics in rather racially insensitive ways. In “Chong (He Came from Hong Kong)” the main character’s musical talents are the main feature of the song’s lyrics, and not the place where he lives; “I betcha he teachee his China girl how to dance, like in a trance/Teachee Preachee Melican song;”[51] the song does not venture into the oriental trend’s characteristic portrayal of foreign places. Another Chinese song, “Ching Chong,” also does not fit the exotica trend, instead, the lyric tells about a Chinese shop owner and his popular café in San Francisco; presumably, an opium den:

The when the time is ripe,

He’ll fill your little pipe,

And then a light he’ll bring,

Gently you’ll float away

Far out on slumber Bay

And softly you will sing,[52]

Such stereotypes and caricatures were not just limited to the lyrics of these songs, but also in their recordings. In a 1919 Premier Quartet recording of “Chong (He Came from Hong Kong),” for example, the sounds of the Chinese language are mimicked for comical effect.[53] While the trend in exotic locations had been going on, there were ways in which the trend’s superficial elements were used in rather non-exotic ways including use of vocabulary and inclusion of caricatures of oriental people.

By 1923, the exotic trend had subsided and its historical legacy within the context of pop song history became a noticeable, but not a pervasive trend. Considering the amount of activity in the pop song market of the early Jazz Era, it is not surprising that consumer attention could not have fixated on single fad. Even though exotic songs charted well, recording artists and the new sounds of orchestras were more popular than these songs, after all. But left behind are songs from a time when new and novel locations became part of popular culture once again and scenes of deserts and foreign places became popular in description and illustration. The music suited the times when Jazz brought new rhythms and sounds to the American market. But the song trend, in retrospect, had lyrical content which had a familiar presence on the American market including pining torch songs of loves left in distant lands. While humour and sex appeal were brought to the attention of consumers through the use of a foreign concept of the harem, which had been used as something novel and funny. But there were other ways in which the trend in Oriental songs had produced music, which had nothing to do with the oriental song trend, in fact the vocabulary was used in ways which lacked the exotic trend’s focus on geography including racial stereotypes of Chinese people, for humorous effect. By the middle of the 1920s, the exotic nature in pop had had gone and left in its wake was a pop market which had increasingly focused on American themes and pop trends rather then looking internationally for musical inspiration.


Brentschneider, E. History of European Botanical Discoveries in China. London: Sampson Low, Marston and Company. 1898.

Briceno, Noel Fahden. The Chinoiserie Revival in Early Twentieth-Century American Interiors.

Brier, Bob.   Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs. New York: Palgrave MacMillan. 2013.

“Ching Chong form 1917 – Original Roll.” Youtube.com. Posted on 5 November 2010 by John A. Tuttle. Found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyEJjxInCo0.

Peerless Quartet’s recordings of Ching Chong.

“Edison Blue Amberol Cylinder 3769 – Chong (He Came from Hong Kong) by Premier Quartet.” Found on YouTube.com. Posted on 12 October 2014 by bigtradermicks.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf0ST2KcP_4.

Green, Adam. Selling Race: Culture, Community and Black Chicago. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. 2007.

Hischak, Thomas. The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopaedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. 2002.

Loesser, Arthur. Men, Women and Piano: A Social History. New York: Dover Publications. 1990.

Monserat, Dominic. Akhenaten: History, Fantasy and Ancient Egypt. New York: Rutledge. 2001.

Most Popular Feature Films Released in 1919. Internet Movie Database. Imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/search/title?year=1919,1919&title_type=feature&sort=moviemeter,asc.

“Palmolive: Re-Incarnation of Beauty.” (poster). The Advertising Archives.co.uk. Accessed 5 May 2015. http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/detail/87518348/1/Magazine-Advert/Palmolive/1920s.

Songs Cited

Ager, Milton (music) and Jack Yelen (lyrics). Lovin’ Sam (The Sheik of Alabam’). New York: Ager, Yellen & Bornstein Inc. 1922.

Berlin, Irving. Harem Life (Outside of That Every Little Thing’s All Right). New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1919.

——-. I’m the Guy Who Guards the Harems (And My Heart’s In My Work). New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1919.

——-. Lock Me In Your Harem and Throw Away the Key. New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1914.

——-. The Syncopated Vamp. New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1920.

——-. Tell Me, Pretty Gypsy. New York: Irving Berlin, Inc. 1920.

Bernard, Felix and Johnny S. Black (music) and Fred Fisher (lyrics). Dardanella. New York: McCarthy & Fisher Inc. 1919.

Fancho and Marco. The Love A Gipsy Knows. New York: Jerome Remick & Co. 1920.

Gay, Byron. Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose). New York: Leo Feist, Inc. 1919.

——-. The Vamp. New York: Leo Feist, Inc. 1919.

Olson, Elmer, Moe Thompson and Dannie O’Neill. Kharmine. New York: Harrison Music Co. Inc. 1921.

Onivas, D. (music) and Jack Meskill (lyrics). Burnin’ Sands. New York: Richmond-Robbins Inc. 1922.

Phillips, A. Fred (music) and Jack Caddigan (lyrics). Egyptian Moonlight. New York: Ted Garton Music Co. 1919.

Rimsky-Korsakoff, Nikolas (music) and Leo Wood and Irving Bibo (Music), arranged by Paul Whiteman. Play That “Song of India” Again. New York: Leo Feist Inc. 1921.

Roberts, Lee S. Ching Chong (He Came From Hong Kong). Chicago, IL: Lee S. Roberts. 1917.

Scott, Maurice (music) and Weston & Barnes (lyrics). I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers, or Mumbo Jumbo Jijjiboo J. O’Shay. New York: T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter. 1909.

Snyder, Ted (music) and Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler (lyrics). The Sheik (of Araby). New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder. 1921.

Spencer, Herbert (music) and Fleta Jan Brown (lyrics). There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes. New York: Jerome Remick & Co. 1917.

Wallace, Oliver G. and Harold Weeks. Hindustan. Chicago, IL: Forster Music Publisher Inc. 1918.

Weeks, Harold. Chong (He Came from Hong Kong). New York: Leo Feist, Inc. 1919.

Whiting, Richard A. (Music) and Raymond B. Egan (lyrics). The Japanese Sandman. New York: Jerome Remick & Co. 1920.


Paul Whiteman Orchestra. Oriental Fox Trot. Victor 18940. located at The Library of Congress National Jukebox. Found at http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/8853/

Waldorf-Astoria Singing Orchestra. The Vamp. Columbia Record. A2758. 1919. Found on YouTube.com. Posted on 2 August 2009 by cdbpdx. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Iop5LZqsI.

[1] Arthur Loesser, Men, Women and Pianos: A Social History, (New York: Dover Publications, 1990), 602.

[2] Adam Green, Selling Race: Culture, Community and Black Chicago, (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 54.

[3] E. Brentschneider, History of European Botanical Discoveries in China, (London, Sampson Low, Martson and Company, 1898), 476.

[4] Noel Fahden Briceno, The Chinoiserie Revival in Early Twentieth Century American Interiors, Thesis. Spring 2008, University of Delaware. 15.

[5] Bob Brier, Egyptomania: Our Three Thousand Year Obsession with the Land of the Pharaohs, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 160.

[6] Maurice Scott (music) and Weston & Barnes (lyrics), I’ve Got Rings on My Fingers, or, Mumbo Jumbo Jijjiboo J O’Shay, (New York: T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Harris, 1909).

[7] “Palmolive: Re-Incarnation of Beauty,” The Advertising Archive, accessed 5 May 2015, http://www.advertisingarchives.co.uk/detail/87518348/1/Magazine-Advert/Palmolive/1920s.

[8] For synopses of these films, see “Most Popular Films Released in 1919,” Internet Movie Database, imbd.com, accessed 20 May 2015, found at http://www.imdb.com/search/title?year=1919,1919&title_type=feature&sort=moviemeter,asc.

[9] Dominic Monserat, Akhenaten: History, Fantasy of Ancient Egypt, (New York: Routledge, 2001), 8.

[10] Byron Gay, Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose), New York: Leo Feist Inc, 1919).

[11] A. Fred Phillips (music) and Jack Caddigan (lyrics), Egyptian Moonlight, (New York: Ted Garton Music, 1919).

[12] Elmer Olson, Moe Thompson and Dannie O’Neill, Kharmine, (New York: Harrison Music Co Inc, 1921).

[13] Ted Snyder (music) and Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler (lyrics), The Sheik of Araby, (New York: Waterson, Berlin & Snyder Co, 1921).

[14] Phillips and Caddigan, Egyptian Moonlight.

[15] Herbert Spencer (music) and Fleta Jan Brown (lyrics), There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes, (New York: Jerome H. Remick & Co, 1917).

[16] Oliver G. Wallace and Harold Weeks, Hindustan, (Chicago, IL: Forster Music Publisher, Inc, 1918).

[17] Snyder, Smith and Wheeler, The Sheik (Of Araby).

[18] Byron Gay, The Vamp, (New York: Leo Feist, Inc, 1919).

[19] Waldorf-Astoria Singing Orchestra, The Vamp, Columbia Record, A2758, 1919, found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Iop5LZqsI.

[20] Gay, Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose).

[21] Olson, Thomspon and O’Neill, Kharmine.

[22] Wallace and Weeks, Hindustan.

[23] Richard A. Whiting (music) and Raymond B Egan (lyrics), The Japanese Sandman, (New York: Jerome H. Remick, 1920).

[24] Felix Bernard and Johnny S. Black (music) and Fred Fisher (lyrics), Dardanella, (New York: McCarthy & Fisher Inc, 1919).

[25] Thomas Hischak, The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopedia, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002), 74.

[26] Wallace and Weeks, Hindustan.

[27] Snyder and Brown, The Sheik (Of Araby).

[28] Paul Whiteman Orchestra, Oriental Fox Trot, Victor 18940, located at The Library of Congress National Jukebox, accessed 5 May 2015, found at http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/recordings/detail/id/8853/

[29] Bernard, Black and Fisher, Dardanella.

[30] Spencer and Van Brown, There’s Egypt in Your Dreamy Eyes.

[31] Irving Berlin, The Syncopated Vamp, (New York: Irving Berlin Inc, 1920).

[32] Lee S. Roberts, Chong (He Came from Hong Kong), (Chicago, IL: Lee S. Roberts, 1917).

[33] Wallace and Weeks, Hindustan.

[34] Olson, Thompson and O’Neil, Kharmine, (New York: Harrison Music Co. Inc, 1921).

[35] D. Onivas (music) and Jack Meskill (lyrics), Burnin’ Sands, (New York: Richmond-Robbins Inc, 1922).

[36] Bernard, Black and Fisher, Dardanella.

[37] Gay, Sand Dunes (My Desert Rose).

[38] Irving Berlin, Tell Me Little Gypsy, (New York: Irving Berlin, Inc, 1920).

[39] Hischak, 318.

[40] Snyder and Smith & Wheeler, The Sheik (of Araby).

[41] Bernard, Black and Fisher, Dardanella.

[42] Irving Berlin, Harem Life (Outside of That Every Little Thing’s All Right), (New York: Irving Berlin, Inc, 1919).

[43] Irving Berlin, Lock Me in Your Harem and Throw Away the Key, (New York: Irving Berlin Inc, 1914).

[44] Irving Berlin, I’m the Guy Who Guards the Harem (And My Heart’s in My Work), (New York: Irving Berlin, Inc., 1919).

[45] Irving Berlin, Lock Me In Your Harem and Throw Away the Key.

[46] Bernard, Black and Fisher, Dardanella.

[47] Bryon Gay, The Vamp (New York: Leo Feist, Inc, 1919).

[48] Fanchon and Marco, The Love a Gipsy Knows, (New York: Jerome Remick & Co, 1920).

[49] Milton Ager (music) and Jack Yellen (lyrics), Lovin’ Sam (The Sheik of Alabam’), (New York: Ager, Yellen & Bornstein, 1922).

[50] Nikolas Rimsky-Korsakoff (music) and Leo Wood and Irving Bibo (lyrics), arranged by Paul Whiteman, Play That “Song of India’ Again, (New York: Leo Feist Inc, 1921).

[51] Weeks, Chong (He Came from Hong Kong).

[52] Lee S. Roberts (music) and J. Will Callahan (lyrics), Ching Chong, (Chicago, IL: Lee S. Roberts, 1917).

[53] “Edison Blue Amberol Cylinder 3769 – Chong (He Came from Hong Kong) by Premier Quartet,” found on YouTube.com, posted on 12 October 2014 by bigtradermicks, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vf0ST2KcP_4.

The Beating Heart of a New Sub-Culture: Jazz’s Route to the Music Mass Market

In the present-day Club Banger Era, hip-hop has become a prominent and necessary component to the commercial pop song market. Some of the most successful songs of 2014 use features to blend pop and hip-hop elements;[1] the collaboration technique bridges sometimes unlikely combinations of rapper and pop singer to bring about fresh creativity, cross-genre appeal and, ultimately, increased sales. Recent songs like Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” features rapper Juicy J, Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” features pop singer Charlie XCX, Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty” features rapper 2 Chainz, Pitbull’s “Timber” features pop star Ke$ha, DJ Snake’s “Turn Down For What” features Lil Jon, Eminem’s “The Monster” features pop star Rhianna and Ariana Grande’s “Problem” features rapper Iggy Azalea, just to name a few titles. As well, the beat of Taylor Swift’s 2014 hit “Shake It Off” is remarkably similar to hip-hop duo Outkast’s 2003 hit “Hey Ya.” The cross genre commercial influence of hip-hop on pop music is evident from the lengthy list of recording artists like Beyoncé, Rhianna, Drake, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown who simultaneously appear on hip hop, pop and Hot 100 charts on a regular basis. Despite the proliferation of hip-hop on pop for the past quarter century, hip-hop has rather humble beginnings dating back to the early 1970s, at a time when neighbourhood DJs and MCs in the Bronx, Harlem and Brooklyn provided the beats and lyrics for house and block parties to “keep the crowd pumped.”[2] Although early hip-hop was somewhat an urban folk tradition for neighbourhood entertainment, early acts unreservedly embraced the pop ethos of the 1970s by isolating the beats and rhythm tracks of the latest commercial and danceable disco and funk records while also providing their own rhymes. The Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” (1979), widely regarded as the first hip-hop hit, prominently sampled Chic’s “Good Times,” one of the most commercially successful hits of that year; a song from an album with a budget of over $150,000 from Atlantic Records.[3] Thirty-five years after “Rapper’s Delight,” hip-hop is a multibillion-dollar industry touching everything from advertising to fashion to vodka and tequila.[4] Similar humble beginnings preceding tremendous commercial success are also integral to the history of jazz music, a style which incubated in New Orleans after the turn of the twentieth century, became the city’s musical export during the 1910s and American pop phenomenon during the 1920s.

Jazz music has a complex social history, long before the style became known by its moniker; what would become jazz music in American pop culture zeitgeist of the 1920s took decades to slowly develop in the city of New Orleans and required a journey to the American music mass market. One of the most cosmopolitan and culturally complex cities in North America, nineteenth century New Orleans had a strong social affinity for music, particularly for brass band music, and the city’s diverse population of Europeans, African Americans, Caribbean people and Creoles all aided in the development of what would become jazz music. But a number of important musical, social and entertainment developments built the foundations for a new style that captured audiences’ tastes and the local music market. Working musicians of New Orleans, some of whom could not read music, blended ragtime and blues together and improvised to give band music individual personality. Segregation laws meant to separate African Americans and whites forced a musical relationship between Creole and African American musicians. However, throughout the 1910s, Jazz music consequently became a musical export of New Orleans at a time when a sizable number of southern African Americans migrated north for better opportunities, and many influential New Orleans musicians, following the audience and their dollars, brought the music with them and to a broader range of listeners. However, when the newly labelled jazz brand represented by various orchestras and Jazz Fox Trots proliferating the recording industry in the early 1920s, the finally achieved commercial success of jazz in the music market sounded much different from the origins of New Orleans jazz music and the white demographics of the musicians in the mass pop song market did not reflect the diverse nature of the new style of music.

In order for a new musical style to develop, there must be musicians to shape it and an audience to hear it and New Orleans, “perhaps the greatest cultural melting pot of its day,”[5] provided a unique, cosmopolitan social setting for what would become known as jazz music. As a trading centre of France’s Louisiana Territory, New Orleans and its access to the Mississippi River, attracted French, British, Spanish and Caribbean trading interests and the European influence has had lasting impressions on the city. Even in the twenty-first century, New Orleans retains a distinctly French personality in food, architecture and language. When Louisiana Territory transitioned to American possession in 1803, New Orleans became an important and busy American trading centre. However, the principle business of New Orleans in the first half of the nineteenth century was slave trading; not only was New Orleans the largest municipal centre of the American South, the city was also the largest importer and distribution centre of human beings.[6] During the Civil War, New Orleans was also the largest city of the Confederacy. Despite this business, New Orleans following the Civil War became even more diverse when Caribbean people and newly freed slaves from across the South migrated to the city for opportunities unattainable in other regions of the South. The distinct New Orleans population of Creoles, progeny of Spanish, French, Caribbean, and African American descendents, are a direct result of the diverse nature of New Orleans society. With so many different people cohabitating in the same city, New Orleans developed relatively lax social attitudes towards race; yet, during the 1890s, segregation laws which had systematically divided the American South between black and white populations following Reconstruction, also divided New Orleans and musically, between black and white musicians and audiences. It is in within this complex web of social context that fomented a passionate support and enthusiasm for music.

Entrenched in the diverse nature in the New Orleans social fabric, were also a deeply musical culture and a “joy in expressing itself through music.”[7] For much of the nineteenth century, New Orleans was home to the only permanent resident opera company in North America, a company which had a loyal local following and toured outside of the city frequently and successfully between 1827 and 1845.[8] It was a form of entertainment that became evermore multilingual when German and Italian companies opened to cater to increasing numbers of non-French speaking immigrants moving into the city throughout the 1840s and 1850s.[9] Professional white and Creole symphonies also found thriving homes in New Orleans, so much so that the capacity of their theatres frequently expanded to keep apace with audience demand.[10] But perhaps the most popular form of musical entertainment, one musically significant to the development of jazz, was the brass band.[11] A diverse range of social functions required band music, including parades, weddings, christenings and funerals.[12] The New Orleans phenomenon of the funeral parade became fashionable as early as the early 1800s, simultaneously commemorating the Napoleonic wars in Europe and celebrating the city’s French heritage.[13] The funeral parade became even more entrenched in New Orleans culture during a devastating cholera outbreak in 1832. Many funerals had three or four brass bands playing music “in the procession, because a member probably was active in eight to twelve organizations…it was more than likely his request to be buried as he lived, among a crowd and lots of music.”[14] In 1838, the New Orleans Picayune reported that the city was swept up in a “real mania in this city for horn and trumpet playing,” the article complained that one could not turn a street corner without running into a brass “blower.”[15] The brass band enthusiasm also brought business to New Orleans and the South, when music instrument companies and chambers of commerce began sponsoring regional band competitions by the late 1870s, including spectacular and legendary musical battles between numerous Confederate and Union Veteran bands, which brought tourist dollars wherever they played.[16] New Orleans brass band scene was often a form of sport, with impromptu battles breaking out between bands each one followed by their own loyal fans, “the bands would soon engage in a free-for-all in which each tried to outdo the other in timbre and sonority.”[17] The sustained popularity of brass band music consequently structured the foundations of jazz instrumentation of trumpets, cornet and trombone.

With a diverse mix of people and a vivacious music culture awash in brass bands, the collision of two distinct and seemingly disparate musical styles during the 1890s, blues and ragtime, blended together to form a new sound and song style. The blues was a social, non-commercial folk tradition, a pastoral, bucolic music derived from slave culture, work songs and African American spirituals. Early blues was not recorded, composed commercially available or taught formally, it was a working class music that expressed emotion while also passing the time. Blues music has a distinctly simple composition style of repeated 12-measure sequences, simple chord progressions, and “blue notes” that were melodically out of context from the rest of the tune, the earliest traditions of which, according to Ted Gioia had been “as much about creating sounds as it was about playing notes.”[18] The other style, Ragtime, throughout the second half of the 1890s and into the twentieth century, became a fashionable music craze and commercial phenomenon for music publishing firms of the North and the Midwest, a style represented by the flurry of rags and coon songs published around the turn of the twentieth century. In the South, however, local music publishing did not take the same route of publishing rags as quickly as possible to capitalize on a new trend. The ragtime craze that had consumed the pop ethos of urban America as late as 1912 was over in the South by 1910, note David Jasen and Gene Jones.[19] Southern published rags regularly reflect a blues influence; instead of 16 bar composition format of the North, southern rags regularly employed 12 bar pattern from blues music like Harry L Cook’s “The Shovel Fish Rag” (1907) and Charles Hunter’s “Possum and Taters” (1900).[20] In turn-of-the-century New Orleans, it was not the parlour piano that carried the ragtime tune, but rather the brass band that provided music in public. The most popular rags were translated to dance bands that “provid[ed] music for public consumption,”[21] for the purpose of dancing and general entertainment. Essential in this blending of styles was trumpeter Buddy Bolden who began to “infuse ‘blue’ notes into musical arrangements”[22] and became one of the most in demand and influential musicians of the era. The new style of syncopated and blues-influenced band music helped to build musicians’ playing style throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries into what would become jazz music.

Within New Orleans, along with the enthusiasm for music, there was also no shortage of musical instruments or prospective musicians willing to learn them. During the 1870s, a plethora of used and inexpensive musical instruments leftover from the Civil War flooded the local music market, as did cheaper brass instruments produced by mass production in the similar commercial manner that pianos entered increasing numbers of American homes during the late nineteenth century. In New Orleans in particular, at a time when the new brass band style was causing a stir during the 1890s, more people were eager and able to pick up an instrument and try it for themselves. Even if there had been a glut in musical instruments and a thriving musical culture to embrace new music, not everyone purchasing instruments had access to formal instruction. Musical instruction requires time and money and while white and Creoles often afforded music education, the financial situation of many African American families put such instruction out of reach. Musician Nat Towles remembers that there was “No music, you understand, we didn’t know what a sheet of music was.”[23] Consequently, a lack of formal musical education helped to stimulate the most recognisable tradition of jazz music—improvisation. Many music-illiterate musicians learned the basic melody of a popular tune, oftentimes by ear and then added flairs, glissandi and improvised countermelodies to enhance the main melodic structure,[24] “in a way, this lack of instruction was an advantage because it allowed some Black bandsmen to incorporate their musical heritage and rhythmic vitality,” remark Hazen and Hazen.[25] Peter Townsend notes that learning to improvise well was not just about figuring out how the instrument worked but also about developing one’s own distinct sound; rather than adhering to notes, improvising was about creating sound.[26] Jelly Roll Morton, always eager to boast about his piano playing prowess, describes earning the biggest tips from audiences and prostitutes by improvising on the melodies of some of the most popular Tin Pan Alley tunes like “Bird in a Gilded Cage,” “Wearing My Heart for You” and “Mr. Johnson, Turn Me Loose.”[27] While the market for musical instruments provided many inexpensive instruments to prospective musicians, the lack of formal musical instruction of some musicians gave rise to improvisation, an important ingredient to jazz music.

The musical heritage, blending musical styles and incorporating improvised touches were bringing a new style to audiences, but it is equally important to understand where this new style of music was being played and to briefly look at the working culture of these musicians. The music business of Tin Pan Alley was focused on selling copies of sheet music and promoting titles by plugging and interpolating songs into musical theatre to bolster sales. In New Orleans, the music business was anchored chiefly in live performances of musicians who needed to work, not publishers or recording companies that needed to sell product. Wherever an audience had gathered, there were musicians to provide music including brothels that provided music in the same manner as restaurants. Many early jazz musicians had working class day jobs while playing a night schedule. Drummer Zutty Singleton reminisces, “there were so many bands in New Orleans. But most of the musicians had day jobs, you know—trades. They were bricklayers and carpenters and cigar makers and plasterers.”[28] Musicians juggling day jobs and night gigs frequently played well into the small hours of the night, sometimes until dawn. Musician Danny Barker remembers trumpeter Chris Kelly who would “play slow, lowdown gut-struts until all the dancers were exhausted and dripping wet…He’d blow a few bars before knocking off at 4:30, and his fans would rush about, seeking their loves because that dance meant close embracing, cheek-to-cheek whisperings of love, kissing and belly-rubbing.”[29] Musicians had to build individual reputations to keep paying consumers entertained and to get more paying music jobs;[30] the theme and improvised variation format became the standard method to encourage patrons to give the most tips.[31] One neighbourhood in particular, New Orleans’s red light district of Storyville, named for city alderman Sidney Story who proposed the 38-block section of legal prostitution in 1897, would provide paid employment for many musicians in “all kinds of places in The District” like whore houses, brothels, sporting houses, cribs, and clip joints, each of which had a different class of clientele and different setting for music.[32] Even though “jazz was not born in Storyville,”[33] the District became a renowned tourist attraction and its restaurants, dance halls and brothels provided music for visiting patrons and regular employment for musicians.[34] In New Orleans, “relatively humane attitudes on racial matters intertwined with a passionate love of music, entertainment and dancing”[35] it took all kinds of people playing music to develop the new style.

While socially more liberal than other areas of the South, the city of New Orleans was nevertheless divided along racial lines between black and white, which did not accommodate easily the diverse nature of the city and effected the musical culture. Although New Orleans resisted against the sorts of segregation laws passed systematically throughout the South following the end of Reconstruction in 1877, in 1890, New Orleans passed statutes that prohibited African Americans from occupying white establishments. The laws upset the social roles of New Orleans prominent and prosperous Creole population. In fact, Homer Plessy, who appealed the validity of the laws all the way to the Supreme Court, was actually a New Orleans Creole wealthy enough to purchase a first class train ticket,[36] not an African American. Many talented Creole musicians and their fans were suddenly classified as African American and segregated to black bands at a time when Creoles were “even more prejudiced to other Negroes than the attitude of white people.”[37] Creole musicians light-skinned enough to pass for white did so. Pianist Jelly Roll Morton on his travels throughout the South during the early twentieth century, because of his light-skinned Creole appearance, claimed to be either white or Cuban, depending on location.[38] Darker-skinned Creoles who were “a proud, cultivated, Catholic caste who spoke French patois…suffered a painful decline in socio-economic status” due to the segregation laws.[39] Nevertheless, Creole musicians segregated to African American establishments learned what style of music black audiences wanted to hear and added their own musical talents. The collision of Creoles and African American musicians ultimately had a great effect on the musical style blending ragtime and blues to eventually become jazz. Even though there was a racial divide in the District between black, white and Creole people, Storyville actually helped to break down the musical barriers. Phil Johnson notes that “[the District] broke down the colour line…not between black and white, but between the Negro sub ethnic groups: between the downtown, light skinned Creole Negroes, and the uptown, dark-skinned Africans.”[40] Joachim Berendt observes between Creole and African-American musicians “there were two very different groups of New Orleans musicians, and the difference found expression in music.”[41] The social upheaval expanded band instrumentation, while brass instruments were staples for African American musicians, in Creole music circles, the clarinet was the principle instrument. A plethora of early Jazz musicians reflect this heritage and instrumentation like Joe “King” Oliver, Freddie Keppard, Alphonse Picou, and Sidney Bechet, all of whom played clarinet.[42] Despite the diverse nature of New Orleans and the music scene, the city was legally divided between people and segregation forced two unlikely groups of musicians to work together to develop and advance the new sounds.

During the 1910s, the new style was on the move northwards as were hundreds of thousands of African Americans. The new style of music had been travelling across the country well before the later 1910s, in fact, the earliest print record of the word jazz did not appear in New Orleans, but rather in San Francisco in 1913.[43] The Creole Band, led by Freddie Keppard, travelled the national vaudeville circuit in 1911. As the decade progressed, Chicago became a second city of jazz music when increasing numbers of New Orleans musicians relocated there, including “King” Oliver, Bill Johnson’s Original Creole Band, and the New Orleans Rhythm Kings.[44] In 1915, the first white jazz band, Brown’s Band from Dixieland, was ready for export north to Chicago,[45] their popularity was so immediately intense that other club owners in Chicago started actively seeking out other New Orleans musicians in the mid-1910s.[46] The Original Dixieland Band moved in 1915, Alcide “Yellow” Nunez also relocated to Chicago that year and Sidney Bechet followed one year later. Within this timeframe, throughout the 1910s, a mass migration of hundreds of thousands of African Americans had been taking place, travelling from the South to the urban centres of the North. Ted Gioia notes that the prevalent economic trend of sharecropping had been systematically dropped from region to region leaving African Americans reliant on the farming practice without economic opportunity; migrating north seemed to be the best option for many.[47] 65,000 African American relocated to Chicago, and the African American populations of Buffalo, Toledo, and Akron more than doubled,[48] it was a mass migration where in all, over one million people relocated North.[49] The new migrants “brought their music with them—blues and its refined, citified cousin, jazz,”[50] as musicians “driven primarily by the flows of people and money”[51] followed the crowds when Storyville was driven out of business in 1917. The life of New Orleans’s Storyville district, the hot bed of early Jazz music, had been cut short by the federal government after four sailors had been murdered and the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels issued an order prohibiting prostitution within five miles of the naval base. The main business of the red light district halted[52] and the once profitable tourist attraction, in which brothels like Mahogany Hall became so famous that they offered their patrons souvenir booklets for sale in gift shops,[53] became quiet. Louis Armstrong points out that when Storyville closed jobs became scarce, “poor people working people who made their living in Storyville such as cooks—waiters—maids—musicians—butlers—dishwashers” were suddenly unemployed.[54] The influence of jazz musicians in the North was palpable. The new musical sounds of live performances attracted everyone “from James Reese Europe to the poorest migrant, [who] took note of the new sound.”[55] By 1919, Jazz had become an international phenomenon, so intensely popular in France that newspapers claimed that the music was a French invention of so-called “cat orchestras” of the eighteenth century that “sound as the jazz band and was fully as musical and entertaining.”[56] By 1919, the new sounds of jazz from musicians looking for income and work had travelled out of New Orleans and into northern neighbourhood restaurants and clubs, delighting audiences of urban centres.

By the time the Jazz era took over the pop song market, the United States was in the middle of some of the most divisive urban racial tensions in history. The national popularity of the film The Birth of a Nation[57] from 1915, adapted from the Thomas Dixon novel The Clansman, had “unleashed racial violence” in its story of the “heroic and honourable Ku Klux Klan.”[58] Returning African-American soldiers from the First World War numbering around 200,000 were faced with segregation in the South and outright racism in the North. The migrating African American families relocating north faced racial tensions regarding housing and labour in traditionally white neighbourhoods then seeing an influx of new black residents looking for jobs. Street battles escalated to full-blown race riots culminating in the summer of 1919.[59] On 27 July 1919, in the city of Chicago, the second city of the jazz scene, a race riot broke out and lasted for a week, in which 23 African Americans were killed and over 500 people were injured in the melee.[60] Record companies eager to capitalise on jazz during these times took a narrow perspective on the new style of music, the sorts of products available to music consumers were not of the sort of the distinct style born in New Orleans, instead, it was a new form of novelty music popularized by white musicians. When presenting the proposition of recording African American musicians to encourage “fourteen million Negroes”[61] to purchase recordings, executives at Victor and Columbia refused;[62] black styles of blues singing in the late 1910s and early 1920s ultimately would be provided by the likes of white singers like Marion Harris and Sophie Tucker. Early recordings describe a style focusing on novelty and fun. The 1916 skit and song by Arthur Collins and Byron Harlan, “That Funny Jas Band from Dixieland,” focus on the musical style using musical sound effects, blacked-up comical dialogue and brisk laughter.[63] The Original Dixieland Jazz Band also propagated the new funny music in songs like “Livery Stable Blues,” in which the musicians use their wind instruments to mimic barnyard animals like cows and horses.[64] Zez Confrey’s “Fox Trot Oddity,” “Stumbling,” (1922) was a humorous tune about “stumbling all around so funny.”[65] Vaudevillians also took part in the new novelty music like Ted Lewis and Eddie Cantor, who suddenly became bandleaders, always looking for new material to add to their stage performances. New and popular multi-piece orchestras recording million-selling Jazz Fox Trots, Jazz One-steps and “Shimmies” created a new form of American orchestral music, one that was tightly orchestrated and lacked the “social balance and interconnectedness” of collective improvisation that jazz music matured in New Orleans.[66] Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra’s “Whispering” (1920) a light, breezy and densely orchestrated tune sold one and a half million discs,[67] their waltz “Three O’clock in the Morning” (1922) with its lilting string section that sounding like European-style classical music, sold three million.[68] Paul Whiteman, the rotund white son of a music teach from Denver, claimed himself as “the King of Jazz” and became the most popular musical figure of the 1920s. Even though Whiteman’s music was not necessarily representative of the rich social history of jazz, musician Joe Venuti suggests that we not judge Whiteman so harshly, “don’t even make fun of Paul Whiteman. He did great things for American music. He took pride in having the finest musicians in the world as sidemen, and he paid the highest salaries ever paid.”[69] At the beginning of commercial music’s foray into jazz, it did not necessarily represent the roots that had given Jazz music its diverse origins.

Jazz route to the commercial pop song market, a genre which lends the sounds and backing tracks of most of the commercial songs for over twenty years, had tremendously humble and yet culturally significant roots in the city of New Orleans. A diverse city in which a musical culture not only developed, but also thrived, New Orleans provided the social scene of both musician and audience. With an influx of used and mass produced instruments, many would-be musicians, with or without formal training in music, experimented with the new sounds brought about through the popularity of live performance, and improvised by blending ragtime and blues influences. But, the music scene in New Orleans during the first two decades of the twentieth century was difficult with many musicians devoting any or all of their spare time to the craft of musicianship. However, in the later half of the 1910s, the musicians pioneering what would eventually be called jazz music, left the city, along with nearly one million African Americans across the South, for opportunity in the North. But in the racial context of the late 1910s, what most people would know of jazz music as recorded by the largely white orchestras was a more orchestrated and less improvisational style taking over the mass market in the early 1920s. However, African American would have their own successes later in the 1920s when record companies found that African American singers and musicians like Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, and Bessie Smith had the potential for selling recordings and consequently bringing in revenue, so much so that individual record companies emerged to promote African American music.


Berendt, Joachim E. The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to Fusion and Beyond. H. and B. Bredigkeit, translators. Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill & Co. 1982.

Bronson, Fred. The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. New York: Billboard Publications. 1998.

Borthers, Thomas. Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 2014.

Carter, William. Preservation Hall: Music from the Heart. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. 1991.

Charnas, Dan. The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop. New York: New American Library. 2010.

“Charts – Year End 2014, Hot 100.” Found on billboard.com. http://www.billboard.com/charts/year-end/2014/hot-100-songs.

Ewen, David. Panorama of American Popular Music. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. 1957.

Gioia, Ted. Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters who Revolutionized American Music. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2008).

Greenburg, Zack O’Malley. “Diddy Explains New Diageo Joint Venture, DeLeón Tequila.” Forbes Online, 8 January 2014. http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2014/01/08/diddy-explains-new-diageo-joint-venture-deleon-tequila/

Hazen, Margaret Hindle and Robert M. Hazen. The Music Men: An Illustrated History of Brass Bands in America, 1800-1920. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. 1987.

Hine, Darlene Clark, William C. Hine and Stanley Harrold. African American: A Concise History. 4th Ed. New York: Pearson Education Inc. 2012.

Hischak, Thomas. The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopaedia. Greenwood, CT: The Greenwood Press. 2002.

Jackson, Jeffrey H. Making Jazz French: Music and Modern Life in Interwar Paris. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 2003.

Jasen, David A and Gene Jones. That American Rag: The Story of Ragtime from Coast to Coast. New York: Schirmer Books. 2000.

Johnson, Phil. “Good Time Town.” Contained in The Past as Prelude: New Orleans, 1718-1968. New Orleans, LA: Tulane University. 1968. 233-257.

Kmen, Henry Arnold. “The Music of New Orleans.” Contained in The Past as Prelude: New Orleans, 1718-1968. New Orleans, LA: Tulane University. 1968. 210-232.

Koster, Rick. Louisiana Music: A Journey from R&B to Zydeco, Jazz to Country, Blues to Gospel, Cajun Music to Swamp Pop to Carnival Music and Beyond. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. 2000.

Morgan, Thomas L and William Barlow. From Cakewalks to Concert Halls: An Illustrated History of African American Popular Music from 1895 to 1930. Washington, DC: Elliott & Clark Publishing. 1992.

Pastras, Phil. Dead Man Blues: Jelly Roll Morton Way Out West. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press. 2001.

Peretti, Burton W. Jazz in American Culture. Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee. 1997.

Pope, John. “Slave Trading in New Orleans was a Thriving Business. 13 April 2010. NOLA.com. http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2010/04/slave_trade_in_new_orleans.html

Price III, Emmett G. Hip Hop Culture. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. 2006.

“Robs Us of Jazz Credit.” New York Times. 11 June 1919. p.17.

Shapiro, Nat and Nat Hentoff, ed. Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told By the Men Who Made It. New York: Dover Publications. 1966.

Tindall, George Brown and David Emory Shi. America: A Narrative History. 8th edition. 2010.

Tirro, Frank. Jazz: A History. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 1979.

Townsend, Peter. Jazz in American Culture. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi. 2000.

Songs Cited

Confrey, Zez. Stumbling. New York: Leo Feist Inc. 1922.


Collins, Arthur and Byron Harlan (performers). That Funny Jas Band from Dixieland. Victor Record. 1916.

Original Dixieland Jazz Band. “Livery Stable Blues.” Mp3 file.

[1] For a listing of the biggest hits of 2014, see “Charts – Year End 2014, Hot 100” on billboard.com, http://www.billboard.com/charts/year-end/2014/hot-100-songs, accessed 12 December 2014.

[2] Emmett G. Price III, Hip Hop Culture, (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2006), 24.

[3] Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, (New York: Billboard Publishers, 1988), 508.

[4] Zack O’Malley Greenburg, “Diddy Explains New Diageo Joint Venture, DeLeón Tequila,” Forbes Online, 8 January 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/zackomalleygreenburg/2014/01/08/diddy-explains-new-diageo-joint-venture-deleon-tequila/

[5] Ted Gioia, Delta Blues: The Life and Times of the Mississippi Masters who Revolutionized American Music, (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2008), 10.

[6] John Pope, “Slave Trading in New Orleans was a Thriving Business,” NOLA.com, 13 April 2010, accessed 17 December 2014, http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2010/04/slave_trade_in_new_orleans.html

[7] Henry Arnold Kmen, “The Music of New Orleans,” contained in The Past as Prelude: New Orleans 1718-1968 (New Orleans, LA: Tulane University Press, 1968), 232.

[8] Ibid, 210.

[9] William Carter, Preservation Hall: Music from the Heart (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1991), 35.

[10] Ibid, 35.

[11] Margaret Hindle Hazen and Robert M. Hazen, The Music Men: An Illustrated History of Brass Bands in America, 1800-1920, (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987), 135.

[12] Rick Koster, Louisiana Music: A Journey from R&B to Zydeco, Jazz to Country, Blues to Gospel, Cajun Music to Swamp Pop to Carnival Music and Beyond, (Cambridge, MA: DaCapo Press, 2002), 6.

[13] Kmen, 227.

[14] Danny Barker, qtd in Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff, Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz as Told By the Men Whio Made It: (New York: Dover Publications, 1955), 16.

[15] Hazen and Hazen, 8.

[16] Ibid, 66.

[17] David Ewen, Panorama of American Popular Music, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1957), 149.

[18] Gioia, 178.

[19] David A. Jasen and Gene Jones, That American Rag: The Story of Ragtime from Coast to Coast, (New York: Schirmer Books, 2000), 161.

[20] Ibid, 160.

[21] Ibid, 162.

[22] Koster, 8.

[23] Nat Towles, qtd in Shapiro and Hentoff, 16.

[24] Hazen and Hazen, 127.

[25] Ibid, 54.

[26] Peter Townsend, Jazz in American Culture, (Jackson, MS: The University of Mississippi Press, 2000), 8.

[27] Jelly Roll Morton qtd in Shapiro and Hentoff, 29.

[28] Zutty Singleton, qtd in Shapiro and Hentoff, 17.

[29] Danny Barker, qtd in Shapiro Nat Hentoff, 50.

[30] Townsend, 38.

[31] Jasen and Jones, 161.

[32] Danny Barker, qtd in Shapiro and Hentoff, 10.

[33] Phil Johnson, “Good Time Town,” contained in The Past as Prelude: New Orleans 1718-1968 (New Orleans, LA: Tulane University Press, 1968), 250.

[34] Ibid, 241.

[35] Carter, 33.

[36] Darlene Clark Hine, William C. Hine and Stanley Harrold, African Americans: A Concise History, 4th ed, (New York: Pearson Education, 2012), 316.

[37] Johnny St. Cyr qtd in Joachim E. Berendt, The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to Fusion and Beyond, (Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill & Company, 1982), 9.

[38] Phil Pastras, Dead Man Blues: Jelly Roll Morton Way Out West, (Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2001), 10.

[39] Carter, 51.

[40] Johnson, “Good Time Town,” contained in The Past as Prelude, 250.

[41] Berendt, 9.

[42] Ewen, 148.

[43] Frank Tirro, Jazz: A History, (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1977), 51.

[44] Ewen, 151.

[45] Johnson, 252.

[46] Ewen, 150.

[47] Gioia, 208.

[48] “Black Population growth in selected northern Cities, 1910-1920,” contained in Hine, Hine and Harrold, 389.

[49] George Brown Tindall and David Emory Shi, America: A Narrative History, 8th ed, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010), 1036-1037.

[50] Dan Charnas, The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, (New York: New American Library, 2010), 4.

[51] Gioia, 208.

[52] Johnson, 249.

[53] Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff, Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz as Told by The Men Who Made It, (New York: Dover Publications, 1955), 8.

[54] Louis Armstrong qtd in Shapiro and Hentoff, 64.

[55] Burton W. Peretti, Jazz in American Culture, (Chicago, IL: Ivan R. Dee, 1997), 27.

[56] “Robs Us of Jazz Credit,” New York Times, 11 June 1919, 17.

[57] For a viewing of the film The Birth of a Nation see The Birth of a Nation, posted by Fortune Cookie, posted 1 May 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=302YMeiDSrI.

[58] Hine, Hine and Harrold, 403.

[59] Peretti, 26.

[60] Hine, Hine and Harrold, 386.

[61] Perry Bradford qtd in Thomas L. Morgan and William Barlow, From Cakewalks to Concert Halls: An Illustrated History of African American Popular Music from 1895 to 1930, (Washington, DC: Elliott & Clark Publishing, 1992), 96.

[62] Morgan and Barlow, 96.

[63] Byron Harlan and Arthur Collins, “The Funny Jas Band from Dixieland,” Victor records, 18984-B, 78RPM disc.

[64] Original Dixieland Jazz Band, “Livery Stable Blues,” mp3 file.

[65] Zez Confrey, Stumbling, (New York: Leo Feist Inc, 1922).

[66] Thomas Borthers, Louis Armstrong: Master of Modernism, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2014), 134.

[67] Thomas Hischak, The Tin Pan Alley Encyclopedia, (Greenwood, CT: The Greenwood Press, 2002), 402.

[68] Ibid, 370.

[69] Joe Venuti, qtd in Shapiro and Hentoff, 277.