Music is such an integral part of our lives that it is difficult to imagine a world without it. Music seems to be one of the defining features of our species. Musical education is conducted mostly in the schools, where a certain training of children to enjoy music made by singing together, as well as a modest degree of musical instruction, is an important factor in the development of the musical culture of any society.
The increased number of skilled singers led to the introduction of choirs in churches, which in turn led to the introduction of instrumental accompaniment on pitch pipes, bass viols, and small orchestras with wind and string instruments by the 1790s.
The most accomplished musicians of the day were some of the wealthy Southerners—Thomas Jefferson, for example, collected musical instruments such as the pianoforte and performed in amateur concerts at the governor’s mansion at Williamsburg—or the planter families who came to Charleston to escape the summer heat and take part in public times,” when concerts and plays were sponsored by the St. Cecilia society.
Referentialists, too, find expressive content in music, though this emotional content may be extramusical (even if not explicit) in origin, according to the American theorists John Hospers in Meaning and Truth in the Arts (1946) and Donald Ferguson in Music as Metaphor (1960).
The United States in the mid nineteenth century was home to two separate and distinct traditions in music, which historian H. Wiley Hitchcock has labeled cultivated” and vernacular.” The cultivated tradition had its origins in European, especially German, classical music.