Fats Waller

The History of Piano Music and American Culture

Episode 1

Episode date - February 25, 2011

How Music Changed

    The history of piano music is extraordinarily complex, but the importance of the piano to the development of an American music culture is often overshadowed by the role played by the guitar. With this series, we will attempt to portray the piano as the single most significant instrument in the development of an American music style.

    The piano may not have been primarily responsible for disseminating blues music, but it did take the blues out of the field and into the parlor – although the parlor was often the front room of a whorehouse, or a rowdy barroom.

    We start with the piano adapting to American styles as the one instrument that was capable of emulating the various melodies and rhythms of a marching band, then syncopating those rhythms and melding them into something completely different. From then on, the sky was the limit.

    Featured tracks from this show include;

    Jelly Roll Blues – Jelly Roll Morton

    Charleston Rag – Eubie Blake

    Ripples of the Nile – Luckey Roberts

    Rippling Waters – Willie “The Lion” Smith

    Charleston – James P. Johnson

    Carolina Shout – James P. Johnson

    Honeysuckle Rose – Fats Waller

    Handful of Keys – Fats Waller

    Channel 15 - The History of Piano Music and American Culture