Episode 344: Music in British North America

Our 5-episode series about music in Early America continues with this second episode that seeks to answer your questions about music in Early America.

David Hildebrand is a musicologist and an expert on early American music. His research specialty is in Anglo-American music, and he joins us to answer your questions.

About the Show

Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.

It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.

Ben Franklin’s World is a production of the Omohundro Institute.

Episode Summary

 David Hildebrand is an instructor of Musicology at the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University. He’s a well-regarded expert on music in Early America who has written several articles and books on the subject. He joins us to answer your questions about music in Early America.
During our conversation, David reveals what the European musical landscape was like by 1492; The ways religious or “church music” shaped early American musical tastes; And the different places and circumstances where you would have heard early Americans singing and playing music outside of a church.

What You’ll Discover

  • The musical landscape of European music before 1492
  • European instruments and musical genres
  • Ways Native Americans, Europeans, and Africans influenced the musical traditions of each other
  • Ways religion and “church music” shaped early American musical tastes
  • The Bay Psalm Book & Genevan Psalter
  • The role of European religious music in early America
  • The singing school movement of the 1720s
  • Singing outside of the church in early America
  • Music and song in everyday early American life
  • The Star Spangled Banner
  • Purpose of singing among the enslaved
  • Purpose of singing at work in early America
  • Live music in early American inns and taverns
  • The importance of music in early American history

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Complementary Episodes

Time Warp PlainTime Warp Question

In your opinion, what would have happened if enslaved Africans had not been brought to North America? How would the musical landscape of early America and even the musical landscape we enjoy today, be different?

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