Sheet Music
by Richard McKinstry

Pictorial sheet music covers were uncommon until the mid-nineteenth century when three things happened: popular music grew to attract a wider audience, largely through the proliferation of music halls; lithography was invented and perfected; and there was an upsurge in the appreciation of typography. By the time the Victorian Age was in full swing, the sheet music of the day contained skillfully produced and attractive illustrations. Today, it is possible to study and appreciate any time period in American history by looking at a piece of illustrated sheet music. Music is reflective of its era, and illustrations mirror the time they were created. Compare, for example, a piece of sheet music for a tune by Stephen Foster with another by Scott Joplin. And, contrast the illustration depicting Little Red Riding Hood for "Little Red Riding Hood Galop," ca. 1870, with the one used for "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" popularized by the Ziegfeld Follies in 1919.

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