Milestone Recordings in American Music


Recording Without Electricity (1890)

As the 19th Century turned into the 20th, the age of easily recorded music had not yet dawned, but the technology was beginning to gain a foothold. More importantly, a new form of music – American music – was emerging, and the occasional flashes of brilliance that were captured on record hinted at what was to come.

Creating a record in 1890 was no easy affair. There were no electronic microphones at that time, so the recorded sound had to be played into a funnel-like apparatus and transferred directly by a stylus onto a wax cylinder. Percussion instruments like drums could not be used, because they would cause the stylus to jump. And analog recordings did not capture subtlety, so only loud, clear sounds like brass instruments could be heard. What’s more, there was no means of mass-producing the wax cylinders, so artists were forced to play the same song over and over again to create multiple recordings.

1890 Headlines … Sherman Antitrust Act signed into law … Last major Indian battle occurs at Wounded Knee, S.D. … Idaho and Wyoming become 43rd and 44th states … First Army-Navy football game is played

United States Marine Band conducted by John Philip Sousa
The Washington Post March
(multiple recordings on Edison wax cylinders, 1890)

I bet there aren’t many Americans who don’t, like me, wax patriotic at the sound of a John Philip Sousa march. Sousa is the soundtrack of all of our national holidays, whether played by a marching band in a Memorial Day parade, or by a full orchestra on the 4th of July. The songs are upbeat, infectious and inspiring, and I can’t help but hum along whenever I hear one being played. But for all its patriotic power, surprisingly this is not what I would call “American music.”

There is no doubt that Sousa was a gifted bandleader and composer. He created a fresh, new songbook for a fledgling country, and it is the quality of those songs that makes them endure. But he was working within an existing framework, using conventions that hearkened back to earlier European classical and popular music traditions. If Sousa would have lived and written his songs in Paris or Prague, they would have been every bit as brilliant, but Americans would have no special connection to them. Contrast that to styles like blues, jazz and rock and roll, which are “American music” at their core, regardless of where or by whom they are performed.

But we’ll get to those styles soon enough. There are two reasons I chose to begin the exploration of American music with this recording. The first is that it helps show the continuity between older traditions and the new styles being developed. Jazz may have seemed like a radical departure from what came before it, but early jazz was played largely on brass instruments – instruments that were plentiful due to the popularity of marching bands.

The second and more significant reason for including it is that it provides a snapshot of the very beginning of recording technology. Here is the result of one of the very first commercial recording sessions.

The sound is distant and somewhat distorted in this recording, and yet the sheer joy of the music is still able to shine through. Listening to the interplay between the instruments and their overlapping melodies, it is not hard to see how this resembles both the masterful symphonies of old and the freewheeling New Orleans jazz to come. The call-and-response exchange between the trombones and flutes near the end is priceless.

It would be another three decades before recorded music would really take off, but this is where it all began.

~ You may also like: Sousa's Band, "Stars and Stripes Forever" (Columbia 532, 1897)


  1. With these developments, Texas electricity capacities may not be enough to maintain the 13.75 percent margin required during extreme weather conditions.

  2. Reading something so delightful has a recuperating power for the spirit.

  3. In the mid 1800s, the invention of the electric light bulb changed everyone's life. This invention used electricity to bring indoor lighting to our homes. strø

  4. We were actually quite relaxed during the show premiere. Everything worked flawlessly and our complex workflows performed pretty well Strø

  5. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing your good article.
    Please visit my website: Click here

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. It’s difficult to find knowledgeable folks about this topic, however, you be understood as guess what happens you are referring to! Thanks https://www.strø

  8. I simply learned all about your internet site the other day and that i happen to be reading through it regularly. You have a a lot of extra practical information on the site and that i benefit from the particular type of the web page furthermore. Keep the good work! Source 

  9. Do you have a spam issue on this site; I also am a blogger, and I was wondering your situation; many of us have created some nice practices and we are looking to trade techniques with other folks, please shoot me an email if interested. Information Outsource

  10. I want to to thank you for this good read!! I definitely enjoyed every little bit of it. I've got you book-marked to look at new stuff you post… Electrician

  11. Generators For Used And Rent. North Karachi, KarachiYesterday. All kinds of GeneratorNew or Used available on installments. best portable generator for home

  12. Thanks for giving great kind of information. So useful and practical for me. Thanks for your excellent blog, nice work keep it up thanks for sharing the knowledge.
    Modular Kitchen in Noida

  13. Thanks for giving great kind of information. So useful and practical for me. Thanks for your excellent blog, nice work keep it up thanks for sharing the knowledge.
    Modular Kitchen in Noida

  14. nice work keep it up thanks for sharing the knowledge.Thanks for sharing this type of information, it is so useful.
    Epoxy Grout manufacturer

  15. A Professional mobile app development Canada company offering Android & iOS app development services. I like its sharing. Thanks you

  16. I feel happy about and learning more about this topic. keep sharing your information regularly for my future reference. This content creates a new hope and inspiration with in me. Thanks for sharing article like this. the information which you have provided is better then other blog.
    Best IELTS Coaching in Dwarka sector 12

  17. No nourishment turning sour in fridges, no sitting in obscurity for them. Zonnepanelen in 2019

  18. Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job Man,Keep it up.
    Study in New Zealand

  19. Rousing and particularly significant, significantly recommended for all bloggers out there.
    southend electrician

  20. Bharat CSP Agents are those individuals who acts as an agent of the bank at places where it is not possible to open branch of the bank.

    Apply CSP
    CSP registration
    CSP provider
    bank CSP
    CSP kisok
    kisok banking

  21. We have worked with many businesses in New Zealand and abroad and we have found that although there has been massive growth in technology, most small to medium sized business owners have been left behind.

    Website Revamp Company in New Zealand
    Logo Designing Company in New Zealand
    Logo Designing Services in New Zealand
    Graphic Designing Company in New Zealand
    Website Design Company in New Zealand
    Website Maintenance Company in New Zealand

  22. Oxigen BC Private Limited Company is India's Largest CSP Provider, which works in all the states of India to open customer service point of all banks. Such as - sbi, boi, bob, pnb etc.

    CSP Apply
    CSP Online Application
    Online CSP Apply
    CSP Registration
    CSP Online Application
    CSP Provider

  23. A large number of people, particularly the migrant laborers and factory workers do not have a saving account and even not able to open an account due to lack of valid address and ID proof. As a result they face difficulties to save their earnings in a safe place and look out for solution to send money to their families.

    CSP Apply
    CSP Online Application
    Apply for CSP
    Top CSP Provider in India
    Apply Online For Bank CSP

  24. In the event that you choose to purchase a solar panel, then again, you will as of now have every one of the numbers essential in regards to what number of watts it produces, and how stable it is. Zonnepanelen kopen

  25. Ombre Powder Glow brows is a technique performed with the assistance of a Master Liner Machine and provides a soft appearance that is both natural looking and long lasting. This brow type typically lasts 1-2 years.

    Permanent Makeup
    Microblading Los Angeles
    Eyebrow Tattoo
    Cosmetic Tattoo
    Ombre Eyebrows
    Powder Eyebrows

  26. Thank you so much for this post , I always wanted to see Post Like this

  27. Thank you so much for this post , I have never seen such a post like this before.

  28. Thus Motta's, "the opera ain't over till the fat lady sings" remains the enduring quote from the 1978 championship run. To see Chenieremerge as a broadcaster a few years after his playing career ended was a surprise. And in that role, he was something of local trailblazer.. (Michael Kors Black Leather Purse Gold Hardware)

    Coach White Bag Price, Woman gets fired from job via text message and company's reason for letting her go is shockingA woman was shocked to learn she had been fired from her job via a text messageKameisha Denton has revealed shocking reason she was sacked (Image: ABC7)Get daily news updates directly to your inboxSubscribeSee our privacy noticeThank you for subscribing!Could not subscribe, try again laterInvalid EmailNobody wants to find out they've been fired.With bills and rent to pay, food to buy, it's important to have a steady income to keep you afloat.But what's worse than being told openly and honestly that you're no longer the right fit for a company?Being told 'it's not going to work out' via a quick text message.This is exactly what happened to one woman in the US and the reason she was laid off from her job will shock you.The reply she received was downright shocking.It said: "Hello I am sorry to inform you but it's not going to work out with Jersey Mike's. It's not a good time for us to have someone who is leaving for maternity leave in several months anyways. You also failed to tell me this during our interview."Her boss had discovered she was pregnant and wasn't very happy with the news.Confused, Kameisha shared a screen shot of the conversation on Facebook , writing: "I usually don't post personal things like this but is this allowed?"It has since been shared over 1,000 times and people are outraged for the mum to be.One person commented: "That's absolutely illegal.

    But we had our chances, opportunities, and we have to take advantage of those. The one thing we have to all understand is we not going to play perfect. There going to be a lot of errors and mistakes.. Gender nonconforming educators around the country are often educators in more senses than one. They deliver instruction in science or English, as school librarians or special education teachers. And because of their identities, they are often called upon to be role models, peer educators, activists, to uphold students' civil rights, help enforce and explain district guidelines, and to teach about LGBTQ facts, respect, rights, and issues.. (Michael Kors Bedford Black Flap Over Crossbody Bag)

  29. , Likes this Post Congratulations Thank you so much for this post

  30. Looking for professional and licensed verified Packers and Movers at an affordable cost?
    Your search ends here... Hire the most licensed and verified packers and movers at an affordable cost and save money, compare the quotes with the top 3 competitors and choose the best one!
    100% Licensed & verified Transporters in India

    Packers and Movers India | Licensed Transporters | Hassle-free relocation
    Call now : 8886663106

    Packers and Movers in Bangalore
    Packers and Movers Vizag
    Packers and Movers in Kolkata
    Packers and Movers in Mumbai

  31. wonderful article contains lot of valuable information. Very interesting to read this article.I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome article.
    This article resolved my all queries.good luck an best wishes to the team members.continue posting.learn digital marketing use these following link
    Digital Marketing Course in Chennai

  32. Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today i find it finally. this post give me lots of advise it is very useful for me.
    Reactjs Training in Chennai |
    Best Reactjs Training Institute in Chennai |
    Reactjs course in Chennai

  33. Are you looking for a Residential and Professional electrical services in Culpeper and Virginia. We specialize in anything electric!

    For more information visit here : electrical services in Culpeper

  34. Are you looking for a Residential and Professional electrical services in Culpeper and Virginia. We specialize in anything electric!

    For more information visit here : Commercial Electrical Services Culpeper

  35. Thanks for sharing this useful information! This is really interesting information to read. Best high-quality Packing And Moving services at affordable prices within your budget.
    @ Movers and Packers in Hyderabad
    @ Movers and Packers in Bangalore


Search This Blog