Tin Pan Alley

Topics: Tin Pan Alley, Sheet music, Jazz Pages: 3 (850 words) Published: June 30, 2006
Tin Pan Alley was the name given to the collection of New York City-centered music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the United States in the late 19th century and early 20th century.The start of Tin Pan Alley is usually dated to about 1885, when a number of music publishers set up shop in the same district of Manhattan.Tin Pan Alley was originally a specific place, West 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue in Manhattan.The name "Tin Pan Alley" was originally derogatory, a reference to the sound made by many pianos all playing different tunes in this small urban area, producing a cacophony comparable to banging on tin pans. With time this nickname was popularly embraced and many years later it came to describe the U.S. music industry in general. Many believe that Monroe Rosenfield;ajournalist and composer, dubbed the name Tin Pan Alley on an article written in 1903. In the mid-19th century, copyright control on melodies was poorly regulated in the United States, and many competing publishers would often print their own versions of whatever songs were popular at the time. Stephen Foster's songs probably generated millions of dollars in sheet music sales, but Foster saw little of it and died in poverty.With better copyright protection laws late in the century, songwriters, composers, lyricists, and publishers started working together for their mutual financial benefit.The biggest music houses established themelves in New York City. Small local publishers (often connected with commercial printers or music stores) continued to flourish throughout the country, and there were important regional music publishing centers in Chicago, New Orleans, St. Louis, and Boston. When a tune became a significant local hit, however, rights to it were usually purchased from the local publisher by one of the big New York firms.

The music houses in lower Manhattan were lively places, with a steady stream of songwriters, broadway performers,...
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