Unit 8 Study Materials

Exploring New Styles and Preserving the Old (1900-1960)


New styles of music seem to spring up everywhere in the 20th Century, and at an amazing pace. Jazz takes root, but it has many different forms, and the style varies depending on the region.

But even though regionalism is still a factor, technology increasingly allows us to forge some truly national styles. Radio broadcasts of music soon stretch coast to coast and recorded music fills up record stores in every city and town. From the Flapper era, to Big Band, to Rock and Roll, popular music becomes the symbol of each succeeding generation of young people.

America’s classical music experiences a different kind of revolution. European music still dominates the concert hall and increasingly important recording industry. But American composers do emerge.  Still, there was much struggle. Charles Ives, an insurance executive, writes almost in secret what will later be regarded as the most distinct and innovative American music of the century. Social barriers are shattered dramatically, as the unforgettable moment when black opera singer Marian Anderson took the stage at the Lincoln Memorial.


Marian Anderson

Robert Frost

Charles Ives

Sammy Nestico

Carl Sandburg


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana

Preservation Hall, New Orleans, Louisiana

Danbury Museum & Historical Society, Danbury, Connecticut

Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC

Asheville, North Carolina

Tupelo Hardware, Tupelo, Mississippi

Pioneer Woman Museum, Ponca City, Oklahoma

Sammy Nestico Music, San Diego, California

Things To Consider

A. We tend to associate jazz with New Orleans. What kinds of music do you associate with these other cities?

  1. Memphis
  2. Chicago
  3. St. Louis
  4. Nashville
  5. Milwaukee
  6. Miami
  7. Detroit

B. In the Big Band Era, skilled composers and arrangers churn out strings of hit tunes that require virtuoso players.

  1. Think about the level of skill necessary to join the band headed by these legendary leaders:
    a. Tommy Dorsey
    b. Duke Ellington
    c. Benny Goodman
    d. Glenn Miller
    e. Count Basie
  2. In the 1950s, Rock and Roll took over and Big Band Era faded
    a. Was the new Rock and Roll as musically demanding for the players and singers?
    b. What other factors determined a group’s success in the Rock and Roll era?

C. Charles Ives’ music can be challenging for those not acquainted with it. But knowing the famous tunes that Ives’ incorporated in his music can make it very interesting.

  1. Listen to Ives’ Three Places in New England and make a list of the tunes you recognize.
  2. How do you think Ives’ music will be regarded if our culture forgets these once-famous tunes?

D. Bob Falls recites a well-known Robert Frost poem. You might want to read these others:

  1. Fire and Ice
  2. Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Things To Explore

Oklahoma Women of Rock and Roll Exhibit

Marian Anderson Historical Society

Early Radio History in the U.S.

History of Jazz (from pre-Swing to Big Band)

The Charles Ives Society

The Danbury Historical Museum

The team of choreographer Martha Graham and composer Aaron Copland

Library of Congress: About the Poet Laureate

Carl Sandburg

Poetry of Robert Frost

Elvis Presley Birthplace, Tupelo, Mississippi