The history of America is reflected through its songs. From changes to the “Star Spangled Banner” as played by different bands in different eras, to sheet music art documenting historical themes, the tapestry of American culture and life has been woven through music.
New to the many online offerings of the Library of Congress is “The Songs of America” presentation, which explores American history through song recordings, videos, sheet music and more. From popular and traditional songs, to poetic art songs and sacred music, the relationship of song to historical events from the nation’s founding to the present is highlighted through more than 80,000 online items and is documented in the work of some of our country’s greatest composers, poets, scholars and performers.
Calling the Library an “unbeatable destination for music lovers,” singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash introduces the “Songs of America” website.
Highlights of the presentation include the first music textbook published in colonial America (1744), Irving Berlin’s handwritten lyric sheet for “God Bless America, The library’s collection of first edition sheet music by Stephen Foster” and performances by baritone Thomas Hampson and soprano Christine Brewer.
Of the presentation, musician Michael Feinstein said, “We can learn about so much that is important for our world today because as Irving Berlin once said, ‘History makes music and music makes history.’”
Users can listen to digitized recordings, watch performances of artists interpreting and commenting on American song, and view sheet music, manuscripts and historic copyright submissions online. The site also includes biographies, essays and curated content, interactive maps, a timeline and teaching resources – including a handy educator’s guide – offering context and expert analysis to the source material.
As you can image, the Library blogosphere is excited about this new resource and will be producing related posts. Make sure to check back here for updates once they are published.
Teaching with the Library of Congress: Songs of America: A New Online Collection from the Library of Congress
From the Catbird Seat: Poetry Widely Featured in the Songs of America Project