The music of the United States reflects the country's multi-ethnic population through a diverse array of styles. Among the country's most internationally-renowned genres are hip hop, blues, country, rhythm and blues, jazz, barbershop, pop, techno, and rock and roll. After Japan, the United States has the world's second largest music market with a total retail value of 3,635.2 million dollars in 2010 and its music is heard around the world. Since the beginning of the 20th century, some forms of American popular music have gained a near global audience.
Native Americans were the earliest inhabitants of the land that is today known as the United States and played its first music. Beginning in the 17th century, immigrants from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Spain, Germany and France began arriving in large numbers, bringing with them new styles and instruments. African slaves brought musical traditions, and each subsequent wave of immigrants contributed to a melting pot.
Much of modern popular music can trace its roots to the emergence in the late 19th century of African American blues and the growth of gospel music in the 1920s. The African American basis for popular music used elements derived from European and indigenous music. The United States has also seen documented folk music and recorded popular music produced in the ethnic styles of the Ukrainian, Irish, Scottish, Polish, Hispanic and Jewish communities, among others.
Many American cities and towns have vibrant music scenes which, in turn, support a number of regional musical styles. Along with musical centers such as Philadelphia, Seattle, New York City, San Francisco, New Orleans, Detroit, Minneapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, Austin, and Los Angeles, many smaller cities such as Asbury Park, New Jersey have produced distinctive styles of music. The Cajun and Creole traditions in Louisiana music, the folk and popular styles of Hawaiian music, and the bluegrass and old time music of the Southeastern states are a few examples of diversity in American music.
The music of the United States can be characterized by the use of syncopation and asymmetrical rhythms, long, irregular melodies, which are said to "reflect the wide open geography of (the American landscape)" and the "sense of personal freedom characteristic of American life". Some distinct aspects of American music, like the call-and-response format, are derived from African techniques and instruments.
Throughout the later part of American history, and into modern times, the relationship between American and European music has been a discussed topic among scholars of American music. Some have urged for the adoption of more purely European techniques and styles, which are sometimes perceived as more refined or elegant, while others have pushed for a sense of musical nationalism that celebrates distinctively American styles. Modern classical music scholar John Warthen Struble has contrasted American and European, concluding that the music of the United States is inherently distinct because the United States has not had centuries of musical evolution as a nation. Instead, the music of the United States is that of dozens or hundreds of indigenous and immigrant groups, all of which developed largely in regional isolation until the American Civil War, when people from across the country were brought together in army units, trading musical styles and practices. Struble deemed the ballads of the Civil War "the first American folk music with discernible features that can be considered unique to America: the first 'American' sounding music, as distinct from any regional style derived from another country."
The Civil War, and the period following it, saw a general flowering of American art, literature and music. Amateur musical ensembles of this era can be seen as the birth of American popular music. Music author...