Music is played all over the world; it is universal and is a mode to unite people. As music came to America, it slightly changed and had new characteristics added to it. America is known as the melting pot due to all of the eclectic people and cultures and this gives its music another dimension. It brings together many different styles and makes it into something new.
George Gershwin was very influential in making American Classical music; he incorporated some characteristics of jazz into his concert pieces. His song “Rhapsody in Blue” came out in 1924 and was very different for its time. It is a jazz concerto piece that is meant to be played by the piano. There are many solo parts for many different instruments, including the clarinet, trumpet, and piano. Sometimes the piano sounds like it is in dissonance and doesn’t go with the overall flow of the piece. The keys are not in harmony. There are also parts of crescendo where it gets gradually louder.
All of this “Americanized” music created the Golden Age of Hollywood. This was during the 1930-1960 ages when the movie industry boomed along with the music played in them. Film scores, which are different from soundtracks, are the orchestral music played in the film. These tended to be classical compositions with orchestras. The soundtracks were made up of the more popular songs played in the films. The music in a film can make or break it. For example, the orchestral music in Star Wars can build up a scene and can set the context. The scores were composed by John Williams. His music is filled with leitmotifs, which are musical melodies used to represent people, ideas, and emotions. Its powerful sound can set the context of grandiosity. One certain sound or song can be used to represent a specific character. For example, the “Imperial March” is used to represent Darth Vader. Another example is Harry Potter, with its light sound portraying innocence or its deep booming sound demonstrating the dark characters. Music can control how the audience feels, when they feel it, and controls practically everything. These scores have a lot of similarities with Classical music, however the music usually originates with the script rather than the composer. The composer does not have as much independence and authority as he does in Classical music. Also, the music was later added to the films. The scenes were not filmed with the music playing.
Lastly, Afro-American music refers to the music created by those of African ancestry. It became extremely relevant during the Black Power movement of the 1960s. It utilizes characteristics of early jazz music and can use a ragtime rhythm. It also includes banjos and sometimes uses components of the Blues style. Oftentimes it can be considered program music, which is instrumental music that does not include lyrics. The music is developed based on solely sounds, and these sounds create the story themselves. An example of this style is William Grant Still’s “Afro American Symphony.”