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Music of the Gaslight Era (1890 - 1920)

by Paul Saulnier
November 9, 2010

Root performs at the Historical Society, November 5, 2010

Music of the Gaslight Era (1890 - 1920)

The Holliston Historical Society hosted a presentation by John Root on Popular Music of the Gaslight Era (1890–1920).

Listen to John Root describe the writer and the song to the audience before singing (along with the audience) in the video above.

The Holliston Historical Society hosted a presentation by John Root on Popular Music of the Gaslight Era (1890–1920) on Friday, November 5 at the Holliston Historical Society’s Asa Whiting House at 547 Washington Street.

While waiting for everyone to arrive and take their seats, Shirley Melle (above) warms up the audiance for John Root.

This program featured a delightful repertoire of instrumental and vocal musical styles and the songs’ lyrics offer insights into the customs and values of these bygone days. Mr. Root put the songs and music in context by explaining what life was like in those days.

Everyone was invited to sing along and experience the range of feelings evoked by songs such as “I Love You Truly,” “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” “Bicycle Built For Two” and “The Sidewalks of New York.”

“I will give a picture of what life was like at that time,” Root said. “Society was stratified by race and class. There were difficult times, including a Depression in the 1890s and World War I toward the end of the era. The songs reflected all that and the melody makes what would otherwise be a poem more memorable. The melody is appealing because of its pattern of repetition and variation on a theme.”

This program was supported in part by a grant from the Holliston Cultural Council, a local agency that is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

 

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