What do you get when you combine the music of the Broadway and musical theater, Hollywood musicals and a little Tin Pan Alley? You get The Great American Songbook. The Great American Songbook is a compilation of musical standards from the 1920's to the 1960's.
The Great American Songbook is made up of hundreds of songs that are inherent to, and define the early American music culture.
Many great singers and songwriters have contributed to this highly regarded repertoire of songs that are sung by musical artists even today. A few of the Songbook songwriting legends include:
Irving Berlin – White Christmas, God Bless America
Harold Arlen – Over the Rainbow, That Old Black Magic
Duke Ellington – It Don't Mean a Thing (If You Ain't Got that Swing),
George and Ira Gershwin – Someone to Watch Over Me , Embraceable You
Cole Porter – I've Got You Under My Skin, What is This Thing Called Love
Rodgers and Hammerstein – Oh What a Beautiful Morning, Some Enchanted Evening
In the early years many singers pulled much of their music from the Songbook. Artist such as: Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin are among the notable few. Many artists have released albums that were a compilation of hits strictly from the Great American Songbook . Ella Fitzgerald recorded 252 songs from the it in her Songbook series Verve .
Many jazz musicians, including past and present crooners and divas look to the Songbook as their main source for musical jazz standards. That has never changed throughout the genre's history.
If you think the Great American Songbook is a thing of the past, think again. Contemporary artists of today draw much of their music from this source. The Songbook has seen an amazing revival in recent years. Modern day musicians from every music genre perform the Great American Songbook standards of yesterday, among some of them are:
Barbara Streisand Natalie Cole
Linda Ronstadt Willie Nelson
Rod Stewart Sting
Joni Mitchell Bette Midler
Harry Nilsson Harry Connick Jr.
Michael Feinstein Michael Bublé
The music of the Great American Songbook can be described in some very definitive terms. Mostly written in "verse-chorus form", the lyrics are rhythmic and somewhat simple. The subject matter usually refers to love, however in some of the songs, lyrics are depicted in a storytelling format, and describe everyday life of the common man.
Containing very sing-songy lyrics, in many cases, rhyming lyrics, the songs lend themselves to catchy memorable tunes. Some attributes that can be found in many Great American Songbook songs are the "in character" narrative style lyrics. Humming and whistling are prevalent in many of the standards of the Songbook as well.
Finding its earliest roots in the elaborate Broadway musical productions of the "Golden Age of Songwriting", many of the songs themselves were written to stand-alone with just their chorus. This enabled a verse to be dropped here and there when being performed outside of musical theater.
Musical artists from all over the world have performed American classics from the Great American Songbook. The heartfelt lyrics and expressive delivery knows no geographical boundaries. The Great American Songbook's music crosses over distance, culture and language. It speaks to the human heart and has survived the tests of diversity and time.