Public domain music is very, very significant. It reflects our culture in a nutshell. It requires music collectors/lovers to share these cultural nuggets. We thank them. Music that survives the ages of neglect and competition from modern artists is truly worthy of listening to and sharing. The multi-national corporations compete for your eyeballs and time with their music. Public domain music becomes even more enjoyable as it survives. The “top down” nature of the “music business” makes this “bubble up” of music love even more significant. Any music made before 1924 can be used by you and me with no permission or payments due to anyone.
This song written by Jelly Roll Morton when he was a teenager qualifies as a public domain composition. I found a version performed by Jelly Roll Morton himself, preserved by music fans just read the comments.
This 1924 recording of this top-selling “Hillbilly-marketed” song became public domain in January. Recorded by Country Hall of Fame Honoree, Vernon Dahlhart, who was born Marion Try Slaughter, for Victor Records, this recording became one of the biggest selling singles of the 1920s. Written by Vernon but copyrighted in the name of his cousin, Guy Massey, it has been re-recorded by many famous artists such as Hank Snow and Bill Monroe. This single “The Prisoner’s Song” was #1 on the charts for over 12 weeks and sold over 9 million copies.
1924 and Jazz’s early recorded history are now converging. This Jazz classic, Gertrude “Ma” Rainey’s See See Rider Blues, was written and performed in 1924. It also features Louis Armstrong on trumpet. The best part is it’s yours, Or should I say ours?
I want to be first in 2020 to share some music that arrived in the public domain. Can you believe George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody In Blue” is ours to use!?
The composition was commissioned by bandleader Paul Whiteman. It was orchestrated by Ferde Grofé. It was considered modern in 1924. I selected a performance done in 2011. It still sounds modern whenever it’s performed.