American Sheet Music: ca. 1820-1860
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Music Copyrighted in Federal District Courts, ca. 1820-1860:
American Instrumental Music
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VOCAL MUSIC
Composers of Popular Song
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image: caption following
Nothing to wear, comic ballad
by Septimus Winner.

Most vocal music in this collection, whatever its original accompaniment, appears in the familiar voice-and-piano format. There is also much music for voice and guitar. Most music for voice and guitar is specifically described as having been arranged for this combination; among the most prolific of such arrangers is Charles Crozat Converse (1832-1918), remembered for his 1868 hymn-tune "Converse," the standard tune for "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."

Popular and parlor songs, which are often in verse-and-chorus format ("chorus" means "refrain," the section of the song whose words repeat from stanza to stanza), often publish the chorus in an arrangement for an actual four-part chorus--sometimes a chorus of men and women, sometimes just a male chorus. The format indicates how the songs were often performed, but it does not preclude performances by a solo singer.

Genuine choral music appears in the collection, notably in the works identified as "glees." In eighteenth-century English music, the "glee" is a male chorus. In nineteenth-century America, the term also applies to mixed-chorus works. No clear distinction separates a glee from a secular chorus; the former was a convenient label used by publishers rather than a sharply defined genre.


American Sheet Music: ca. 1820-1860