• Stepping Stones Kottla

Music in the 20s Compared to the 50s

By Elise Örtegren.



Willie Smith, Jelly Roll Marton, Louis Armstrong, and Duke Ellington were all Iconic music artists who marked a spot in the ‘’Happy 20s’’.

After the first world war, the USA became bigger in their industries. Besides airplanes and cars, new music styles were created and the entertainment industry made people forget the war. Music clubs got popular and was a pretty daring thing to do after the Tragic War. People Danced dances like Charleston and black bottom in tune with the happy music.

The first decades of the 1900s were known for the Jazz era, people now had their radios and the jazz was listened to by families at home. The early 20s, Louis Armstrong and Buddy Bolden created beautifully improvised music with their trumpets and inspired artists to follow in their leads. The hot jazz developed and it was a music style with blazing tempos and improvisations. The hot jazz was a mix of ragtime, blues, and brass and was popular during a shorter period until the swing became popular and the Hot Jazz became canceled.

Trumpet, Clarinet, Banjo, Tuba, Trombone and Drums were all instruments who created the Happy Jazz style. Artists now also played so-called ‘’ big band jazz’’ . The bands could be several people (10 or more) who played four different sections of the band, saxophone, trumpets, trombones, and rhythm. The big bands could be playing in clubs and the bands were often divided into black and white people.

Benny goodman started to produce music in 1926. He was the first artist to mix black and white people in his band. To play with him you had to be good and it didn’t matter if you were black or white.

The 20s created the new music area and was the revolution of the way of listening to music. Jazz Wasn't just influential in the music world but also fashion and moral thoughts. It was the black community that moved down to Chicago looking for work and then played their music. It became more race influential. Even though the white people listened and played the Jazz they had segregated clubs. White and black people couldn’t always go to the same clubs to listen to music and the black race was segregated from the whites.

In some gangster-run nightclubs, they served alcohol and mixed white and black people. It was unusual that black and white people were socially mixed and danced at the same clubs. It was also unusual to drink alcohol during this time, the alcohol was forbidden during a time.

It was called ‘’ The Happy 20s’’. An era with the unawareness of the dark years ahead. Soon it wouldn’t be so happy anymore. The Year 1939 the world war broke out all over the world and it was a tragic war that will be remembered a long time ahead.

In 1950 it would be 5 years ago the war was over and the music industry started to bloom. The rock n roll music was played in the houses of the 50s kids. Artists like Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley. Rock music was a combination of R&B and country. Rock had been heard before but it was now, During the 1950s that the style was noticed.

Because of the influence the war had on society, music now became more political. In the lyrics of the music, you can hear opinions and political statements. The Musicians had a big impact on people because they could reach out to them through music. The Artist’s point of view influenced people to agree.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll in the 50s took influence from the afro Americans who played the music long before the 50s. Elvis Presley was the man who carried the style to popularization but an important thing to remember is where the music was established. Because of the lack of rights the music didn’t have the chance to be produced. It was important for the artists now to carry on the music in remembrance of the black musicians.

Rock and roll, a style which was derived from the genres of blues, rhythm, and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strength from several other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles.

The 50s was more than just the evolution of rock music. The R&B which was a mix of blues and rhythm became a new music style during the 1050s. The music was softer and when combining the two styles the R&B was created. Famous artists during this time who performed R&B were Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, The platters, and Ray Charles. The R&B had inspiration and ancestry not just from the rhythm and blues (Which is an extended name of the short ‘’R&B’’) but also from gospel music and Doop-Woop.

In the 1950s, the music was recorded using classic all-tube microphones. The most popular during this time was the Telefunken U47M. This one created a better sound and was a new invention to be used to update the sound and music quality. The choice for signal path also contributed extensively to the sound, despite currently being used to the endless routing possibilities inside the DAW. Back then the preferred route was microphone, mixer, recorder. This short-chain added only minute changes to the sound, allowing it to breathe naturally.

I Have been listening to rock music from different decades in history a lot and personally I love the 80s Rock ‘N’ Roll. The Rock started its journey in the 1950s and without artists like Pressley the music style would not develop as it did. The 50s, such as the 20s, had a big impact from the cultural and political state during its time and it was/is maybe that that is so interesting. People have always struck to be amazed and with stronger (maybe risk-taking) opinions, people's interests awaken. I believe that the two world wars provoked people's thoughts which they wanted to mediate. The 20s was a year that put the foundation for the coming decades in music culture and without the 20s jazz, there wouldn’t be any 50s rock or even 80s rock. If I would put my opinion on which era had better music I would choose the 50s. The whole style in creating and performing music is very interesting, although I love the feeling of safety and happiness that occurred in the ‘’happy 20’’. These two eras are just so much more than only music also, fashion and culture overall had a big impact on how people's lives were.

As I said before, Elvis Presley was the one who carried the Rock ‘N’ Roll to popularization but the music style was established long before. What I don’t like with both eras was their look on black people. The music was so limited because of the hate towards black people. As we can see now afterward, most music that was published wasn’t created by the artist who played it, it can be easy to forget who created the style. To compare with today's music production, it does not matter what race you are or where you are from. It is the music that is important and everyone has their chance to be notarized. Maybe, if society would have been more open to different races to publish their music, our music industry would look different today. Would Elvis Pressley be that popular if his music style was popularized before him?