Events in the 20th century in Audio and Culture (part 1)

We began Professional Issues and Practice with a look back at the beginnings of Acoustic Vs electronic music.

We did a ricochet through important events in the 20th century in  audio and culture. We covered a lot, so I am just going to pick out some main parts that I liked and found interesting.

Some early background on sound. The early days of recorded sound was the use of tin-foil, a wax cylinder and acetate. Acoustic recording using gramophone and discs developed into electronic recording using microphones, filters and amplification. The phonograph was invented in the 1870’s by Edison. Then, radio was developed in the 20’s by Marconi and was driven forward by world war 1  as a form of communication. We have the beginning of the record industry.

In the clip Luigi Russolo, a French pioneer of musique concrete, was the first noise composer in 1910. It sounds really quite futuristic, I would think people at the time were in amazement and wondering what to make of it. It sounds like motor or motorbike racing. It has a very manly feel to it, yet playful.

By 1913, Stravinsky had changed things. His was a more folk idea and melody. His music caused a famous riot.  The clip has melody and a pulsating rhythm. It is quite jerky at times, It t goes from flute sounds, followed by drums and heavier brass. It was accompanied by a very different sort of ballet.  For the times, it must have been quite provocative or strange. It is a mischievous musical journey, that transpired to cause a riot for it’s day and maybe was a sign of the times as the first world war would soon break out.

Jumping to the jazz era around 1927.

Here is a song by an early artist known as, Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton. It is a good example of early jazz.

‘One of the most famous bands of the twenties and early thirties play Steamboat Stomp. These Morton recordings have been the musical basis of many of today’s jazz musicians. Some stayed within this format, others evolved into swing and into the many facets of the modern jazz styles’

This is a later example from Jelly Roll. It’s called ‘Jungle Blues’. It was known as New Orleans “Hot Style” Jazz.

This 1934 tune by Gene Krupa shows the swing, influenced jazz. It has a light, dance feel to it, an upbeat pre WW2 feel (1939)

This is a good article about the beginnings of early jazz.

It’s really good to hear the original jazz tunes. When jazz first came out it was considered punk. It was about fun and dancing.

This is another great piece by Jelly Roll.

Here is an early one by Louis Armstrong

Its absolutely so good. Make you want to dance.

Here is a post war sound (1953) from Charlie Parker at It sounds faster, but not as upbeat, it’s got a darker feel to it. A bit chaotic, probably anarchic for the time.

Learning about these beginnings makes me think of two artists I really like, Van Morrison and Amy Winehouse, both contemporary artists of Jazz / blues, and heavily influenced by jazz.  Van Morrison often says ‘Jelly Roll” in his songs. Now I know why! Check out this link from Van Morrison, the brass section is lovely and has that old style quality, it brings me back in time too.

At 1.30 he talks about learning music and going back through it’s layers, ‘Stripping away layers’. Learning from the past.

Also, Amy Winehouse was heavily influenced by Jazz. I went to see her movie, she was highly knowledgable and well researched on  Jazz. Check out .

Jazz lives on in many forms. I’m enjoying learning about this era of sound. It is deep and lots to learn with different branches. I’m going to learn more. I think the Amy Winehouse movie that just came out, ‘Amy” has also inspired me.


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