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Categorizing SoundGenre and Twentieth-Century Popular Music$
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David Brackett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248717

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248717.001.0001

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The Newness of Old-Time Music

The Newness of Old-Time Music

(p.113) 4 The Newness of Old-Time Music
Categorizing Sound

David Brackett

University of California Press

The early history of what would eventually be called “country music” drew on many of the same ideas about genre and audience that had been developed in the marketing of foreign music and race music. The idea that rural, white people from the South constituted a distinct audience led to a rapid formation of the category some three years after the initial interest in “race” music. The ambiguous social position of southern, rural white people led to difficulties in finding a convenient label for the category, although “Old-Time Music” came closest to achieving official status, and “Hillbilly Music” was used informally in the press. Old-Time Music increasingly pursued connections to mainstream popular music even while continuing to refer to an imagined rural past. One of the most successful recording artists of the 1920s, Vernon Dalhart, is used to exemplify the trajectory of Old-Time Music during the mid-1920s.

Keywords:   Old-Time Music, Country Music, Hillbilly Music, Vernon Dalhart, mainstream

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