American  Culture






American Culture has thrived and survived on its musical roots from its revolutionary beginnings and has dominated the world market even at times when other parts of American Culture may have not been internationally accepted.  In a way, music has painted a more accurate picture of the events and emotions in America than any other aspect of American culture has.

From the beginning of American Colonization, settlers from many countries brought with them both folk and religious musical traditions which were effectually blended in to a truly American spirit and sound.  From this era, a new patriotic sound emerged with the same roots, such as the "hymns" compiled by Benjamin Franklin, "Yankee Doodle", and the theft of "God Save the Queen" transformed in to "God Bless America".


In the shameful history of slavery, the spiritual songs of a people enslaved helped America find her soul.

Folk music then took shape as people of the newly reunited states learned to recognize and appreciate their own cultural identities while a flood of songs about the newly built railroads traveled the country faster than a train ever could. Immigrants brought their own traditional folk and children's songs that are still sung today in reflection of our international heritage.  Vaudeville and Musicals finally appeared when the nation developed a cultural comfort.  Jazz and Blues were born with reflections of African traditions but with a sound and experiences that would prove uniquely American. Downtown and Uptown styles spoke cultural languages that still linger in the American soul.


As America fell in to a depression and her morals were under constant attack, the speakeasies gave way to a return to Christian Music, Sweet Folk Hymns, Classical and Broadway tunes.  With the depression came an economic decline in record sales forcing most music to be shared as "barnyard dances", the precursor to such music houses as the Grand Ole Opry.  The world wars inspired most popular musicians to entertain humorous and patriotic ballads as well as musical propaganda stirring enough to recruit America's young men.  In the few years of peace between, big band and swing gave us something to celebrate through dance. This importance of music as a uniting and popular American force had Hollywood star power worthy of Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. 


Finally in the fifties, sounds from each genre of music began to blend and for the first time lacked a political motivation in its lyrics. Rock and Roll and Rhythm and Blues were finally born infecting the youth culture with unity, excitement, and marketability. The once politically-incorrect term "Hillbilly Music" adopted this same spirit and became what we know today as "Country Music".  The sons and daughters of early heralded fiddle players were now fusing hillbilly country, gospel, jazz, blues, pop, cowboy, and folk.  The British invaded with a new sound and lyrical rebellion which continued in to questioning American Ideals, Policies, and Traditions through the Vietnam era.

When the country was again at peace and in a recession, Bubble Gum Pop appeared offering an escape while a dark wave, punk, and heavy metal sound invited those who weren't ready to brush off the struggle.

Popular music was written to make sales (and did in great numbers) while other genres of music continued their traditions with pride even when interest seemed to be dwindling.  Rap and Hip Hop emerged from a combination of jazz, spiritual, and rhythm and blues traditions while entertaining lyrics that for the first time seemed to uncensor the American spirit.


Now once again in a time of political and economic uncertainty, the United States is emerging in a cultural unity through music.  Rap and Country artists are producing albums together, International violinists provide hip hop beats, Hard Rock artists feature jazz musicians, and classic rock artists are touring with folk legends. Though their styles are unique, their cultural essence is in unity.


The American spirit is ready to join through culture in a shift that is easy to see will be yet another landmark in music history.

International artists are slowly being welcomed, and American artists are taking the time to expose international plights.

Music is thus truly the greatest insight in to American culture, both past and present.




Traduction Française: Isabelle Noel