1920s Music


Two of the most popular outputs for 1920s music were Broadway musicals and Tin Pan Alley. The 20s saw record numbers of people flocking to Broadway with as many as 50 new musicals opening in just one season. The shows’ producers took musical theatre seriously and the musicals songs became hits in their own right.

S’Wonderful  1928 from the Broadway Musical Funny Face.

Crazy Rhythm 1928 from the Broadway Musical Here’s Howe

Tin Pan Alley

Named after the area they set up shop, Tin Pan Alley was a collection of New York City music publishers and songwriters who dominated the popular music of the late 19th and early 20th century in the US.  Happy-go-lucky songs with simple harmonies and catchy melodies were the most popular music of the 20s but it will always be remembered for its jazz and that’s what Tin Pan Alley began to focus on. As well as jazz, one of Tin Pan Alley’s greatest outputs were composers Irving Berlin and George Gerswin. Berlin transitioned from Ragtime hits in the early 1900s to his song “Blue Skies” being featured in ‘The Jazz Singer’ — the world’s first feature length talking picture. As well as dozens of his compositions becoming hits on the radio, broadway and in Hollywood Musicals. Gershwin’s most famous composition was 1924’s Rhapsody in Blue, an orchestrated piece became one of the most popular pieces of music of the 1920s.

Everybody loves my baby 1924

Rhapsody in Blue  1924


Jazz originated in New Orleans in the early 1900s. As employment opportunities brought people across America, jazz traveled with them.

It was the 1920s when jazz hit its stride and became a worldwide craze. The Jazz Age, a term coined by F Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby, ushered in a revolution in music that made its way to dance halls, ballrooms and speak-easys, underground bars and clubs where people could dance and drink their way through prohibition. Its upbeat temp called for more exuberant dance moves and dances such as the “black bottom” and the “Charleston” became popular. Leading the jazz train were Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton.

Duke Ellington Creole Love call 1927

Louis Armstrong, West End Blues

Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love) Dorsey Brothers Orchestra  with Bing Crosby 1928

The evolution of 20s music

Some of your favourite classic songs from Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra and many others have their roots in the 1920s where most of our favourite jazz standards were born.

Louis Prima Just a gigilo- I ain’t got nobody

Modern versions

People are still looking back to The Jazz Age for inspiration and its influence can be seen in many contemporary songs as well as remixes that bring 20s music into the modern age.

Minnie the Moocher – Swagger Jax

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