Tag Archives: United States

“The star-spangled banner” turns 200

 

Around 1775 John Stafford Smith wrote a melody for verses celebrating the Anacreontic Society, a London amateur musicians’ supper club. With its stirring tune, The Anacreontic song soon escaped the confines of club ritual, appearing in popular song collections and inspiring parodies in London’s many theaters.

By 1790 the melody had become part of the core of the active U.S. broadside tradition; by 1820 Anacreon, as the tune was then known, was the vehicle for more than 85 sets of American lyrics.

A number of these songs were nationalistic, praising early presidents and articulating partisan conflicts. The tune became widely associated with U.S. patriotism, making it a natural choice for Francis Scott Key for his commemoration of the nation’s surprise victory in the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. Originally titled Defense of Fort McHenry, the song quickly became a U.S. patriotic favorite as The star-spangled banner.

This according to “A star-spangled biennial” by Jerry Blackstone, Mark Clague, and Andrew Kuster (Choral journal LIV/9 [April 2014] pp.6–17).

Below, the original song, followed by two iconic performances of the U.S. national anthem.

Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl, 1991.

Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock, 1969.

1 Comment

Filed under Curiosities

Folk music index

folkindex

Jane Keefer’s Folk music index is a database of U.S. old-time recordings that can be searched by title, recording, keyword, or publisher.

Cross references to alternate titles, related pieces, and similar melodies constitute around 18% of the nearly 39,000 titles in the title index. The recordings indexed generally have a major emphasis on tradition-based material from both commercial and non-commercial performers, including a considerable amount of old-time fiddle and banjo tunes.

Although most of the recordings included are LPs, many have been reissued as cassettes and CDs.

Below, Gid Tanner & the Skillet Lickers play Soldier’s joy in 1929—with a little help from some friends.

Related articles:

 

 

 

 

Comments Off on Folk music index

Filed under North America, Resources

Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections

Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections is a multiformat ethnographic field collection documenting traditional cultures throughout Florida in the late 1930s and early 1940s. This free online resource is part of the Library of Congress American Memory series.

Undertaken in conjunction with the Florida Federal Writers’ Project, the Florida Music Project, and the Joint Committee on Folk Arts of the Work Projects Administration, the collection features folk songs and folktales in many languages, including blues and work songs from fishing boats, railroad gangs, and turpentine camps; children’s songs, dance music, and religious music of many cultures; and oral histories.

The website provides access to 376 sound recordings and 106 accompanying materials, including recording logs, transcriptions, correspondence between Florida WPA workers and Library of Congress personnel, and an essay on Florida folklife by Zora Neale Hurston (inset). A new essay by Stetson Kennedy reflects on the labor and the legacy of the WPA in Florida, and an extensive bibliography, a list of related Web sites, and a guide to the ethnic and language groups of Florida add further context to the New Deal era and to Florida culture.

Above, construction workers gathered around the stove in the craftsmen’s barracks at Camp Blanding, Florida, in 1940.

Comments Off on Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections

Filed under North America, Resources