Response to America On Record: A History of Recorded Sound by Andre Millard

I think the two biggest things that I took away from this article is that, African American musicians were not treated fairly.  They did not get the royalties that they deserved for the songs they had created.  The African American musicians did not get the record deals but the all white bands would.  These all white bands would try their best to sound like the African American bands that they had heard play, but ultimately, these all white bands stripped away any essence of African Americans in their music.  Even the African Americans who became famous, their music still wasn’t a fully authentic rendition of what was going on with Jazz at that time.  

This leads me to the other point that I took away from this article. Due to the limited recording technology, certain things were not able to get recorded.  When recording music, they had to get rid of the percussion, because it was too loud to be recorded.  They would either use a muffled drum set, or they would bang drumsticks together.  The recording technology at the time also set time limits to the music.  They were limited to 3 minutes on a record.  A lot of the jazz music was improvised and without a time limit.  Whatever was recorded, ended up being the standard practice of what jazz should sound like.  The technology heavily influenced the music.  What people heard on the records, was what people tried to recreate and mimic, to sell more records.  The actual authentic way of playing jazz at that time, was unfortunately, not able to be recorded.  I think it’s really interesting to think about that the technology influenced the change in the music itself.  It makes me wonder what the actual music sounded like in comparison to the recordings.

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One Response to Response to America On Record: A History of Recorded Sound by Andre Millard

  1. Kyle says:

    I agree with your entire response. Unfortunately African Americans were not treated equally in society and that is no different in the music industry. Most artist were not signed to labels, promoted or even given opportunities to record their songs. The few black artist that were given the opportunity to record their songs were stolen by white artist. Fortunately times have changed for the better.

    To your other point, many great songs definitely went unrecorded. Many songs that have been recorded are not of the best quality or proper length which obviously effects the overall quality of the record. Both artist and fans of the music were cheated do to the lack of technology which is very unfortunate.

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