America's first "platinum sale" song.... 1891!
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The credit for creating the modern poular song was claimed by Charles K. Harris (May 1, 1867 – December 22, 1930), was a well known American songwriter of popular music. During his long career, he advanced the relatively new genre, publishing more than 300 songs, often deemed by admirers as the "king of the tear jerkers". He is one of the early pioneers of Tin Pan Alley.
Harris was the composer in 1891 of the the largest hit of the pre-jazz era, "After the Ball." The song was recorded, but the real success of the song was in the sales of sheet music, which numbered in the millions!
In the time before mass- communications, a piano in the home was often the way for families to play and hear the songs they heard in the theatre or music hall. Apparently a large percentage of folks back then could read and play from sheet music!
Harris was one of the most famous songwriters of the time, and is often credited (many time by his own words) with being the songwriter that caused "Tin Pan Alley" to boom in the creation of the American poular song.
Of course as usual, there always has been many critics of the popular song from Mr. Harris time, to the more modern "bubble gum music", to what modern critics often call the "quite repetitive" styles recorded now.
Perhaps the harshest critic of Mr. Harris, that reflects what many current critics say about modern popular songs, was Sigmund Spaeth who wrote in his 1948 History of Popular Music In America;
"The career of Charles K. Harris remains a convincing proof that one can become an enormously popular songwriter without ever writing a really good song."
But critics aside (who cares what they say anyway, most have rarely composed a note of music), for the fun of it we have created in PDF format a modern version of historic, classic, American hit song "After the Ball"... with lryics, melody, with a modern version of guitar chords and a basic keyboard (or harp) accompaniment.
We also included a PDF with scans of the original Charles Harris classic book "How To Write A Popular Song" that contains a "biography" written by himself. published by the songwriter himself! Also a PDF file with scans of the original verions of "After the Ball", and three more pieces of music by Mr. Harris. The PDFs are prepared in an easy to print black and white format. The book contains a "biography" written by himself.
Listen to an MP3 sample at:
More historic American music: