Part 4 a diversity of Popular Musics

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Part 4: A Diversity of Popular Musics

  • With the coming of rock and roll, American popular music diversified as never before

  • Pop and country-western struggled to hold their own against the powerful new music

  • In time, various styles found audiences and vied for popularity with rock and among themselves

    • Disco, new wave, gospel, rap, jazz, regional and ethnic musics

Vernacular Art

  • The beat generation of the 1950s

    • A term invented by Jack Kerouac
      • Originally involving his talented friends who provided some of the twentieth century’s most inspired poetry and prose
        • Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, friends and colleagues stood for nonconformity…
          • Which was a concept in vogue in Europe
    • At the same time, performers gave vent to the same spirit motivating the literary beats
      • James Dean, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley

Vernacular Art: Visual Arts

  • Visual arts found new means of expression and established new artistic ideals

    • Pop artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987)
      • Puzzled and intrigued his contemporaries
        • Achieved new color harmonies with silk-screen prints
        • His “serial” paintings, multiple repetitions of an image, feature common objects of popular American culture
          • Movie stars, advertising logos, political figures, more
      • Identified with some vernacular musicians of his day
        • 1965: Punk rock group Velvet Underground accompanied the showing of one of Warhol’s artworks

Vernacular Music

  • During the twentieth century, popular or vernacular music became a significant cultural concept and an important business

  • Recent decades have produced an unprecedented variety of popular music

    • Grunge, hip-hop, alternative rock, women in rock, new country, teenybop, Latin pop, rave
      • All of these styles have not replaced but rather joined rhythm and blues, classic rock, light pop, and the other music of our popular culture

Vernacular Music: The 1990s and Early Twenty-first Century

  • 1990s: One of pop’s most experimental periods

    • Technological advances brought down recording costs
    • Computerized inventories allowed stores to carry more stock
  • Early Twenty-first century

    • Downloading of music has changed the nature of the pop marketplace
      • Challenging major labels to find new ways to make money in what may soon be the post-CD era

Vernacular Music Today

  • We are in the midst of a prodigiously productive period

    • Richer than any earlier time
      • Richer than any other contemporary culture in the variety, quantity, and quality of our vernacular music

Latin Popular Musics

  • Latin American music has enriched the popular and concert music of the United States for at least a century and a half

    • This music is of more significance to North American popular music today than ever before
    • Southwest United States
      • Traditional Spanish dance music is played
    • Other parts of the country
      • Latin American dance music has affected pop and jazz
  • “Latin Pop” is a category in its own right on the Billboard trade magazine popular music charts

Latin Popular Musics: Early Twentieth Century

  • Latin popular dances took the United States by storm

    • First as exotic curiosities, then as fads, and finally entering mainstream American popular music
    • The Argentinean tango
      • The first Latin rhythm to affect American pop
      • A graceful, yet torrid dance, sedate in tempo, sensuous
      • 1911: The tango was introduced to Broadway audiences
      • 1913: Made widely popular as danced by Irene and Vernon Castle in a musical
      • A sophisticated fusion of European and African ingredients

Latin Popular Musics: The Tango and the Habanera

  • Lyrical tango melodies often suggest the influence of Argentina’s Italian population

  • Tango rhythm is that of the Cuban dance, the habanera

    • Subdivides eight eighth-notes (four beats) into 3 + 3 + 2
    • Habanera beat has influenced United States popular music…
      • In Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s piano pieces
      • Jelly Roll Mortin called it the “Spanish tinge” in ragtime
      • W. C. Handy used habanera rhythm in the four-line verse—”tango section”—between stanzas of “St. Louis Blues”
  • The habanera beat has been heard as the basic rhythm of numerous pop styles

Latin Popular Musics: Influence of Latin Performers

  • 1930s: Several Latin dances entered American pop through big band music

    • Especially that of popular bandleader Xavier Cugat, born in Spain and raised in Cuba
  • Several renowned Latin performers began their careers at about that time

    • Appearing in popular stage shows and later in film musicals
      • Desi Arnaz and Carmen Miranda
  • Three Latin areas—the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico—have influenced popular, classical, and religious music in North America

The Caribbean

  • The slave trade bringing blacks to North America carried many slaves to the Caribbean islands

    • These slaves managed better than their northern counterparts to preserve their cultural traditions
      • The drumming largely forbidden in the North was tolerated south of the border
      • African tribal religions blended better with the Christian Catholicism prevalent in Latin America than with the Protestantism characteristic of the North

The Caribbean

  • Since 1898 Puerto Ricans arrived to settle primarily in New York City

  • Cubans have come to New York City as well as to Florida

    • Cubans and Puerto Ricans brought African-derived musical and dance forms to the United States
      • Because more African slaves originally were brought to Cuba, the black Cuban population is sizable and the African influence on its culture is strong
  • Chicago and Los Angeles have people from Haiti, Trinidad, and other areas of the West Indies

The Caribbean Santeria: The Way of the Saints

  • Santeria is a religion created in the New World by slaves brought from West Africa to the Caribbean sugar plantations

    • Nominally converted to Catholicism, slaves often fused their traditional beliefs and rituals with elements of their new religion
      • Thus, in Cuba the religious practice called Santeria evolved
        • In the United States Santeria has members of the Cuban, Puerto Rican, African American, and Anglo-American communities
  • Music is important to Santeria

Santeria: The Music

  • Traditional rhythms of Cuban batá drums accompany rituals

    • Batá are double-headed, hourglass-shaped drums
      • Believed to be shaped like the thunder ax god
      • Both heads of the drums are sounded with the hands
      • Each rhythm constitutes a musical prayer to a specific god
      • An oral tradition rooted in ancient Africa, ensembles evolve their own performance style and technique
  • Each Santeria song is associated with a particular deity

    • Sung without harmony in call-and-response fashion
      • The Leader improvises phrases in an open, relaxed vocal style characteristic of African practice

The Caribbean: Bomba

  • Bomba = African-derived Puerto Rican couple dance; one of the first Latin dances to become popular north of the border

    • Allowing the man great flexibility and freedom to display dancing skills
      • The female performs fixed steps
    • The song’s text—in call-and-response fashion—concerns daily events
    • With drums, optional maracas, guiro (see photo) and cowbell

The Caribbean: Rumba

  • Rumba: A group of Afro-Cuban musical and dance forms

    • Dancing couples hold each other a bit apart, shoulders level, moving hips
    • Rhythm of two or four beats per measure, divided according to clave rhythm, tapped using claves (see image), which underlies Cuban dance music (refer to figure 15.2, page 256)

Rumba is the style at the deepest roots of Cuban music

  • Arrived in Cuba with African slaves

  • Soon African languages were replaced by Spanish

    • Melody lines adapted scales and figures from Spanish songs
    • This synthesis seeded all Cuban music that followed…
      • Including son, chachacha, conga, mambo, salsa, cabaret music, pop songs, classical Cuban compositions
    • Around the world rumba reached into…
      • Rhythm and blues, disco, Spanish flamenco-pop, African guitar-rock
  • Rumba continues to evolve

Rumba: Instruments

  • Traditional instruments add to the exotic flavor of rumba

    • Bongos
      • Pairs of drums of different size
      • Held between the knees
      • Usually played with the fingers and hand, sometimes with a stick

Rumba: Conga Drums, Timbales, Maracas

  • The Conga drum is the largest of the Latin instruments

    • Often played in pairs
    • Sound is produced by their muleskin head
      • Timbre varying according to whether it is struck by the heel, palm, or fingers of the hand
  • Timbales

    • Pairs of metal drums mounted on a stand, struck with a stick
  • Maracas

    • Pairs of gourds filled with pebbles or seeds
      • Shaken or rotated by handles attached to one end

The Rumba in the United States

  • 1930s—Cuban and Puerto Rican musicians performed rumbas in New York’s uptown Latin district, El Barrio

  • Xavier Cugat and other bandleaders entertained downtown ballroom crowds in a rhythmically simplified Americanized version of the rumba

  • Tin Pan Alley songwriters produced songs with Latin American flavor, such as…

    • “Heat Wave,” by Irving Berlin
    • “Begin the Beguine,” by Cole Porter
      • The beguine is a native West Indies dance

The Caribbean: Cu-Bop

  • 1940s: Cuban instruments and instrumentalists were strongly affecting jazz

    • Another dance, the conga, a line or chain dance
  • Cu-bop merges Latin rhythms with bebop

    • Introduced by Dizzie Gillespie in a 1947 bebop concert
    • From then on, Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, and other musicians flavored much of their music with Brazilian, Cuban, Latin influences

The Importance of Rhythm

  • Rhythmic patterns are at the heart of Cuban (and African) drumming

    • Over a constant pulse other pulses are layered, then varied
      • Creating rhythmic expectation through repetition, then subverting it
      • This is what a jazz soloist does
        • Jazz musicians adapted such techniques
        • Stan Kenton’s band used the Latin effect double-timing which subdivides the beat, implying a faster tempo

The Caribbean: Mambo

  • An Afro-Cuban form of big band dance music

  • Tito Puente (1923-2000)—born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents—became known as the “Mambo King” for his sophisticated versions of this Latin dance

    • Puente was a percussionist and bandleader of Afro-Cuban music, influenced by swing and Santeria
  • Couples danced the mambo moving forward and back

    • The slower, simpler chachacha, popular in the 1950s is closely related to or even a form of the mambo

The Mambo’s Influence

  • Merged with big band jazz

  • Inspired many Tin Pan Alley songs recorded by…

    • Perry Como, Nat “King” Cole, more
      • The mambo affected 1950s rhythm and blues
      • Introduced Latin rhythms into early rock
        • Bo Diddley, Ray Charles, James Brown absorbed Latin percussion sounds and rhythms into their own music

The Caribbean: Salsa

  • Late 1970s: Salsa emerged with new status

    • Salsa = sauce (literal translation)—was a term for peppy sounds
      • Today salsa sometimes refers to all African-Latin musics
        • Salsa had been dance band music with instrumentation, rhythms, flavor unlike swing band sound
          • Timbres: Voices, trumpets; or, flutes and violins
          • Rhythms: Complex; varied Puerto Rican, South American elements
        • Salsa had been a Cuban music considered a substyle of popular music for decades


  • Sophisticated jazz musicians enthusiastically incorporated salsa rhythms into their virtuosic performances

  • 1980s and 1990s

    • Salsa in New York changed, acquiring a distinct African-American inflection
  • The match of young freestyle singers with classic salsa rhythms has proved powerful, as revealed by brisk sales of recordings by salsa artists

    • Marc Anthony, and, India

Listening Example 54

  • Ojos (“Eyes,” 1978)

  • Composed by Willie Colón

  • Performed by Rubén Blades (vocal)

  • Willie Colón (trombone)

  • Listening guide page 259

  • Rhythm: Clave rhythm

  • Instrumentation: Brass with trombone on lead lines; percussion, including conga drum, timbales, bongos, maracas, claves, piano repeats syncopated patterns

  • Form: Two-part

  • Canto (narrative) and montuno (rhythmic, more instrumental)

The Caribbean: Reggae

  • Reggae fused elements of North American rock and African Jamaican music to form a kind of “acculturated rock”

    • 1960s—popular in England
    • 1970s—popular in the United States
      • Bob Marley (1945-1981) was a leading performer who became famous in the United States


  • Reggae comes in several styles, all roughly related to rhythm and blues

    • But the polyrhythms are more complex
    • Bass lines stronger
    • Tempos more relaxed
  • Reggae combos consist of

    • Electric guitars, electric organ, electric bass guitar, drums
    • Electronic studio techniques
  • Toasting or Dubbing = rapid patter talking, to influence development of rap music

Reggae: Religious and Spiritual Implications

  • Reggae—a vernacular music (rock) borrowed and transformed by a culture (Jamaican) other than the one that introduced it (African American) to form a new style

    • Represents a popular music with strong religious connotations
      • Rastafarianism = a black religious movement
    • Many of the songs have urgent political content
      • Promoting the 1960s “back to Africa” movement
  • Marley’s spiritual descendents

    • Buju Banton – His album Unchained Spirit
    • Luciano – His album Ultimate Collection (2003) sings of moral chastisement, spiritual uplift

The Caribbean: Calypso, a Song Style of Trinidad

  • Popular in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean

  • Was a communication between African slaves forbidden to talk to each other

    • Satirically humorous song lyrics
    • Often sung in French-Creole dialect, or patois
      • Often mocked masters, politically charged, or risqué
  • Singer-composers take grandiose names, such as Lord Executor

  • 1944: Lord Invader’s “Rum and Coca-Cola” sung by the Andrews Sisters led to Calypso’s popularity in North America, including

    • Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat Song” (“Day-O”)


  • Steel drum was the favorite accompanying instrument

    • 1940s: The steel drum was developed in Trinidad
      • The only new acoustic instrument of the twentieth century
      • Made by pounding the bottom of a 55-gallon drum, concave
        • Chiseling various sizes of grooves to produce tones
      • Timbre: Ringing
  • 1970s: As calypso declined in popularity, other versions of calypso appeared

    • Soca = A party music version, more up-tempo
    • Rapso = calypso-style lyrics, rhythms influenced by hip-hop
  • Today: Calypso still has devoted fans


  • The relaxed, easy pace of Brazilian music can be related to the sounds and inflections of the Portuguese language spoken in Brazil

  • Brazilian dances—gentler, slower, less intense that the exciting Cuban and Puerto Rican musics—achieved their own popularity in the United States

    • But never to the degree of the hot Caribbean sounds

Brazil: Samba and Bossa Nova

  • 1949: The Afro-Brazilian samba, sometimes called the national dance of Brazil, arrived in New York

    • Became popular as sung and danced by the glamorous Carmen Miranda
  • The word samba has religious connotations

    • Samba has been the main dance at Rio’s Carnival, before Lent
  • 1960s: Bossa Nova emerged as middle and upper class youth’s reaction against samba’s perceived commercialism

    • Sometimes called jazz samba, it is derived from samba
      • Bossa Nova used elements of cool and progressive jazz with sophisticated Brazilian rhythms

Bossa Nova

  • Less vibrant, more melancholy than Cuban-flavored music

    • Bossa nova adapted beautifully to the world of jazz
      • Flexible rhythms, colorful instrumentation
  • Bossa nova met initial resistance from traditionalists

    • They did not understand its elusive flavors, new sounds
    • And, like bebop, bossa nova is for listening
      • Bossa nova is not a dance, but a rhythm--with subtle, flexible polyrhythms
        • Samba had Exotic stars singing, dancing, flashy band
        • Bossa nova—Soft singing, single guitar, at most a four-man band

Bossa Nova: Antônio Carlos Jobim (1927-1994)

  • A leading figure of the bossa nova movement

    • The term bossa nova first emerged in the lyrics of the song “Desafinado,” by Jobim
      • Bossa = slang for something particularly distinctive
      • Nova = new
      • “Desafinado” = off key—The lyrics say that by singing “off key” the singer tried to attract his beloved’s attention
  • Early 1970s: Rhythms and melodies of bossa nova were added to much music, including but not limited to…

    • Weather Report, with Brazilian percussionists; Brazilian singer of jazz and Brazilian music Flora Purim; Pat Metheny

Listening Example 55

  • Desafinado (“Off Key”)

  • by Antônio Carlos Jobim

  • Lyricist: Newton Mendonca

  • Performers: João Gilberto (vocalist, guitarist)

  • and Stan Getz (jazz tenor saxophonist)

  • Listening guide page 262, 263

  • Meter: Four beats to the bar

  • Tempo: Slow, relaxed

  • Form: Strophic

  • Gilberto’s calm voice is uniquely suited for the long, sinuous, chromatic melodic line; notice the harmonies to make the singer seem “off key.”


  • Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California absorbed many sounds from nearby Mexico…

    • Where folk music and popular music strongly reflect the songs and dances of African slaves
  • Country music of the Southwest shows the Mexican influence

    • Woody Guthrie, playing music in Texas in the 1920s sometimes adapted Mexican topical ballads called corridos
      • Corrido = Storytelling song, with roots in Mexico and the southwestern and western United States
  • The Mexican ranchera (ranch song) “El Rancho Grande” became a standard of western swing bands

Mexico: Dances

  • Dances traveled back and forth between Spain and Mexico

    • Dances acquired changes in name, instrumentation, performance style over time
      • These dances became popular in the Southwest
        • Baile = traditional Spanish social dance popular in the Southwest before and after the Civil War, and, today
          • Bailes are performed to celebrate engagements, weddings, joyful events

Mexico: Tejano and Norteño Music

  • These are musical styles showing the influence of mid-nineteenth century immigrants from Germany, Poland, and what is now the Czech Republic

    • Accordion in popular bands
    • Oom-pah-pah beat of polkas to Spanish songs and dances
      • Known as norteño in northern Mexico
      • Known as tejano in south Texas

Tejano Music

  • 1950s: Tejanos were singing Tex-Mex rather than traditional Spanish

  • 1960s and 1970s: Orchestral sound infiltrated many tejano bands

  • 1980s: Keyboards were included in the bands

  • 1995: Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was murdered

    • The murder of this shining young star brought tejano music to national attention
      • The music is now more familiar and popular as it evolves
      • Today’s tejano groups mix salsa, meringue, techno, pop; accordion still dominates some ensembles

Mexico: Corridos

  • Corridos = Storytelling songs with roots in Mexico and parts of the southwestern and western united States

    • Relate the unofficial history of Mexican communities and their heroes
      • The focus is more on the story than on the music
  • Sung by solo vocalist with guitar

    • Current popular music groups, such as Los Tigres del Norte, a Mexican band, have performed and made corridos more complex

Mexico: Conjunto

  • Conjunto = An ensemble accompanying dance and song in norteño music, north and south of the Mexico-Texas border

    • As Mexican Americans spread throughout the southwestern United States as well as north and east, conjunto ensembles played their traditional norteño music
      • The ensembles included accordion, guitar, sometimes double bass, drums, later on sometimes saxophone
      • They played polkas, waltzes, European dances popular in Mexico and the United States, and by the 1950s rancheras, corridos, and traditional Mexican songs

Conjuntos: Recent Years

  • Some modern conjunto musicians have resisted the traditional polka songs

    • They have blended in other musical styles, including jazz, into performances
    • Besides saxophones, some have keyboards and synthesizers, creating conjuntos orquestales
    • Conjunto musicians have attracted enthusiastic new audiences to their música alegre (“happy music”) by…
      • Traveling widely
      • Teaming up with other musicians
      • Adding conjunto beat to other popular musics

Mexico: Mariachis

  • Mariachis = Mexican groups of strolling musicians playing string instruments and often led by one or more trumpets

    • By 1970s, performed Mexican folk music in the Southwest United States
    • The music is joyous, often played at weddings
      • “Mariachi” may be derived from mariage, French for “marriage”

Latin Music Today

  • Latin music has become a vital force to the music of the United States

    • Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, Shakira
  • 2000: The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences created a new Latin branch which presented the first Latin Grammy Awards that year

    • Latin Grammy Awards include
      • Pop, rock, tropical, regional, traditional, jazz, Brazilian, children’s, classical, production, video

Listening Example 56

  • Jarabe Tapatío

  • Traditional

  • Listening example page 267

  • Meter: Duple

  • Texture: Mostly chordal

  • Form: A series of strains, each composed with eight bar phrases (labeled A, B, C, and D)

Image credits:

  • Slide 16: Guiro, Royalty-Free/Corbis

  • Slide 17: Claves, ibid

  • Slide 19: Bongo Drums, ibid

  • Slide 30: Electric guitar, ibid

  • Slide 46: Strolling Mariachis © Corbis

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