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Broadway to Main StreetHow Show Tunes Enchanted America$
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Laurence Maslon

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199832538

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199832538.001.0001

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Face the Music (and Dance)

Face the Music (and Dance)

The Gramophone and the Voice of Broadway

(p.21) Chapter 3 Face the Music (and Dance)
Broadway to Main Street

Laurence Maslon

Oxford University Press

The technological advance of the gramophone allowed consumers to hear the performers of Broadway in their living rooms. But the tunes from the Great White Way were more persuasive than the impulse to record original performers in the roles they performed nightly on the stage; the technical limitations of the 78 rpm record only allowed for three minutes of music, so the overwhelmingly popular dance band orchestras of the period were, by and large, the most effective purveyors of Broadway music. The notion of an “original cast performance” was not a commercial imperative and the early decades of recorded music reveal an arbitrary and confounding legacy of original performances; the music of Broadway itself, however, was the most influential and revered genre in American popular culture.

Keywords:   Gramophone, Al Jolson, Victor recording, Paul Whiteman, George Gershwin, Fred and Adele Astaire, Ethel Merman, 78 rpm recordings

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