American music of today has spawned from music of the past. As explained in chapter four of the A History of the Music in American Life by Ronald Davis, Jamestown is the founding spot of American music. Yet compositions were not conceived until the early eighteenth century with the musical compositions by the drastically differing composers, Billings and Hopkinson. Francis Hopkinson was a popular composer of the time but does not change or influence music in society of today. William Billings is an original composer, writing from the heart, appealing to all classes and very influential in the furthering of "American" music. The venues playing these two types of music differ in the past as they still do. The distinction between "European" music and "American" music in the present day, lends itself to an age old dichotomy of musical correctness that can be traced back to Hopkinson and Billings.
Mozart, Handel, Pergolesi, Corelli, and Hopkinson all produce "European" music and emulate the correctness and standard of traditional music. Hopkinson strictly wrote in a "European" style. He ironically wrote broadside ballads mocking the British and aimed to instill excitement in the patriot cause such as "The Battle Keg". Instead of seeing these broadside ballads he wrote as a noteworthy style, he instead thought of them merely as propaganda. Although at the time of creation, Hopkinson's music was well received, "Hopkinson's way of life would vanish
his music remained a fragile reminder of a colonial aristocracy of that time and an industrialization social system had left behind" 1. "Using the European masters as his model" 2, his music lacked originality. "His songs began no trend, laid no foundation on which future composers could build, but merely perpetuated a dilettante tradition rooted in the past" 2. Even his inventions were obsolete after his generation. A leather or cork pick instead of a quill pick for the harpsichord failed to make a difference in...
Bibliography: Davis, Ronald. "Hopkinson and Billings," A History of Music in American Life, Vol 2, The Formative Years 1620-1865. Malabar, Florida: Robert Krieger Publishing Company, 1982.
Hacker, Diana. The Bedford Handbook, 6th ed. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2002
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