1919 Music
September 4, 2007 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Seeking recordings of American popular music from 1919 and therabouts.

For a museum exhibit, I need to find some recordings on CD of songs that were popular in the late nineteen-teens. OUr needs are kind of specific: the music needs to be available on a CD (or burnable to CD), but sound believably 1919-ish. It will look as though it's playing on a phonograph - so modern interpretations of older songs won't work. A recording with some historical performance practice, or a CD version of a recording from history, would work well.

Extra points: The home was lived in by a family of immigrants from the Ukraine. Their daughter, like a lot of American kids, learned to play contemporary songs on the piano and they also owned a lot of records, though we don't have any of them today. So we are going to emphasize American pop music, but if you know of any other kinds of songs that might have been heard in a Ukrainian Jewish household around 1919, that would be great, too.
posted by Miko to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Check out the Library of Congress' page. It's chock-full of info.
posted by doctorschlock at 10:01 AM on September 4, 2007

Response by poster: FYI, this provides detail about the family depicted in the exhibit.
posted by Miko at 10:03 AM on September 4, 2007

Response by poster: doctorschlock, I've done some searching but I've encountered two problems with a wide-cast net: first, though there are a lot of recordings available, I don't necessarily know what was really popular or what is representative of pop music of the time, and second, I'm hoping to find something in a convenient, playable format so there will be ambient music in the exhibit. I'm hoping someone with knowledge of period music might help narrow the field for me.
posted by Miko at 10:05 AM on September 4, 2007

Enrico Caruso's recording of George M. Cohan's WWI propaganda song was extremely popular in the late teens.

You can download the complete 1918 recording of the song here. It's the third version listed.

I'm not sure of the exact history, but an immigrant family might have jumped on the patriotic bandwagon in order to fit in with their neighbours.
posted by elkerette at 10:08 AM on September 4, 2007

This site might have something for you- they sell CD's of Victrola recordings. Scroll down for "popular 1913-1918". There is a track list and samples.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:14 AM on September 4, 2007

Archive.org has its open source 78 RM collection. It also hosts the cylinder archive. I was going to suggest the Secret Museum of Mankind CD series as a potential source of period Ukrainian music, but it looks like their earliest content is 1925. File for future reference.
posted by mumkin at 10:17 AM on September 4, 2007

There's some good suggestions already, but I can also point you in the direction of Old Time Radio-- I made a post about its new archives a couple of years back here.
posted by jokeefe at 10:32 AM on September 4, 2007

new = news
posted by jokeefe at 10:32 AM on September 4, 2007

Ah, Miko, this is probably the most relevant link connected to that post: http://www.radiolovers.com/pages/music.html
posted by jokeefe at 10:34 AM on September 4, 2007

Here's a disc of piano rag from that time that sounds like it'd fit your requirements. There should be more legacy recordings in the Folkways catalog (I know because I own a bunch of 'em, including transfers of Bartók's wax recordings from around that time) but the online catalog at that site doesn't seem complete.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:41 AM on September 4, 2007

Check out the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project. The works are presumed to be in the public domain and they have a large catalouge of music to browse including a section of jewish wit and humor.
posted by psychobum at 11:04 AM on September 4, 2007

Thomas Edison's Attic is a podcast that might have what you're looking for:

...featuring: Tin Pan Alley pop songs, ragtime, vaudeville comedy sketches, flapper dance bands, old-time country tunes, historic classical music, laboratory experiments and other artifacts - all dating from 1888 through 1929.

Obviously, some of it will fall outside of the dates you're looking for. But the host gives the artist, the year and other info about each song. There are also playlists for each episode.
posted by PlusDistance at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2007

Nipper's Greatest Hits: The 20s.
Pop Music The Early Years 1890-1950

Obdisclaim: i work for the labels yada yada yada
posted by softlord at 7:07 PM on September 4, 2007

posted by brujita at 8:09 PM on September 4, 2007

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