Tin Pan Alley

“Tin Pan Alley: Genre of U.S. popular music that arose in New York in the late 19th century. The name was coined by the songwriter Monroe Rosenfeld as the byname of the street on which the industry was based—28th Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway in the early 20th century, around Broadway and 32nd Street in the 1920s, and ultimately on Broadway between 42nd and 50th Streets. ‘Tin Pan’ referred to the sound of pianos furiously pounded by ‘song pluggers‘ demonstrating tunes to publishers. The genre comprised the commercial music of songwriters of ballads, dance music, and vaudeville songs, and its name eventually became synonymous with U.S. popular music. Its demise resulted from the rise of film, audio recording, radio, and TV, which created a demand for more and different kinds of music, and commercial songwriting centers grew up in such cities as Hollywood and Nashville.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

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