Try to picture this: Your country has just fallen into the worst economic slump in history. The company you work for has just gone out of business. You lose your job. What will you do? How will you survive? All these questions were surely asked by Edgar Harburg. Like many others during the Great Depression of the 1930s, Edgar Harburg turned to music; he joined Jay Gorney and together they collaborated on songs for Broadway pieces (Edmund and Goldstein 107). Not unsurprisingly, he preferred his new career (Edmund and Goldstein 107). Moments such as those have fortified the ties of music and reality throughout time. Nevertheless, music has been a definite part of culture since the earliest ages. It has also been altered on several occasions in a variety of ways. One defining period of change came during the 1930s, when the United States and the rest of the world saw a significant decrease in economic prosperity. Subsequently, radio’s emergence altered the way music was heard and, meanwhile, the composition of music was modified to reflect society’s general mood.
The invention and widespread use of radios allowed citizens to experience music differently than they had before. Previously, one would have to venture outside the home to listen to music. One might travel to concerts, or into town to listen to a jukebox, or they could stroll down the streets in the hope of hearing locals play in the alleyways. In this way, people were exposed to a variety of genres. However, radio stopped that. People were finally able to listen to whatever they pleased if they could catch it on the airwaves. Not only did the airwaves give people the ability to control what they listened to, it made it difficult for unfamiliar personnel to be heard. Susan Douglas emphasizes this point:
And what the industry will say today is, ‘There’s more diversity than ever. Look at all of the formats.’ But within each format, you have diversity kept at bay on the other side of the door. And this move seeks to place each of us in a very narrow preserve where we don’t have to listen to other kinds of music and therefore don’t get exposed to other kinds of music. (qtd. in DiMeo)
Although Susan Douglas is speaking about modern times the idea is applicable to 1930s. While today we are presented with hundreds of ways to access music, before the 1930s there were fewer than ten. So, with the arrival of radio, people were bound to hear fewer lesser known artists. To some it seems trivial to complain about people not hearing a variety of music. However, Cliff Doerksen, a classical music fanatic that praised its ability to bring peace, would disagree given the fact that classical music is only one of many genres (DiMeo). With the introduction of radio the number of people exposed to unpopular music declined; popular music took a substantial leap and dominated over others. Unless a song appealed to the masses it was unlikely that it would be aired. Despite such setbacks, lesser known...