Sample History Essays on History and Music

Music has been present with people and cultures over ages. History has not been able to trace an exact source or genesis of music and is therefore believed to have existed in the incalculable time. Those who study music speculate that it may have begun in Africa, which history believes is the cradle of mankind, and spread to all parts of the world as people settled. In the same vein, people have had different cultures in different locations across the world. Each place has its own preferences and agreeable code that is applied in all spheres of life. This paper explores the history of Chicago and Memphis as well as how music has evolved in these two locations.

The ownership of Memphis has changed hands over the years. The first settlers were Native Americans, explorer Hernado Desoto would then claim it for Spain in the fourteenth century[1], the French and the English would also claim ownership in the subsequent two hundred years after Spain. In 1716, Tennessee was admitted to the Union, but the city of Memphis came into existence in 1818 when the Chickasaw Indians sold the land to the U.S government and the Tennesseans decided to incorporate the new town. The city would be fully incorporated in 1826 and would be named Memphis to mean “place of good abode”[2] after entrepreneurs saw the possibility of having a city on the bluffs. The city has grown to being the biggest in the state of Tennessee and a recognize birthplace of some of the biggest artists in blues and rock music.

Since the 1850’s, Chicago has been one of the most dominant Midwest metropolises. Chicago’s recorded history goes back to the sixteenth century with the arrival of the French explorers, missionaries and fur traders and their interactions with the preexistent Native Americans[3]. The modern city was incorporated in 1837 by Northern Businessmen and grew rapidly. It grew to becoming the nation’s rail center and a dominant city in the Midwest with manufacturing, commerce, finance, higher education, broadcasting, sports and would come to be known as the home of Jazz[4].

Chicago is known as a key center for music. During the period of the Great Migration, when poor workers migrated from the South to industrial cities like Chicago, traditional jazz and blues also moved with them[5]. The result would be the birth of Chicago blues and Chicago style Dixieland jazz. Great and legendary artistes would hail from Chicago and through the subsequent years, other forms of music such as Gospel music, made popular by Thomas A. Dorsey[6], heavy rock, punk and hip hop would also become popular in Chicago. Orchestras in Chicago include Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Chicago Sinfonietta[7].

As far as the history of music in the Bluff city goes, the American culture has been significantly informed by Memphis music. Some of the best known landmarks in Memphis, Beale Street and Graceland[8] are heavily associated with music. The most popular music genres to have hailed from Memphis include blues, rockabilly and rock-n-roll. Today, many famous artists of jazz, gospel, and rhythm-n-blues have had their journey influenced experiences in Memphis. Beale Street was a place where talents were natured and where rural and urban styles met[9].

Great and legendary names in the music industry have risen out of Beale Street and other genres have been influenced by the music made in Beale Street. Today, Gospel, jazz, blues, soul, and rockabilly have combined to create the distinctive Memphis music tradition, a legacy still savored by music lovers across the nation. The Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum and the Center for Southern Folklore celebrate that rich legacy today with exhibits and programs[10].



Amromusic. June 13, 2014. A Brief History of Memphis Music. Accessed December 16, 2019.   

Encyclopedia Britannica. History, The 19th Century, Early growth. Accessed December 16,         2019.

Encyclopedia Britannica. November 28, 2019. Memphis TENESSEE, UNITED STATES.   Accessed December 16, 2019. 2017. Chicago Music History. Accessed December 16, 2019.