Festival goers dance during the first day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 25, 2014.
Jonathan Bachman / Reuters

Between the development of electrical recording in 1925 and the onset of the Great Depression in the early 1930s, the soundscape of modern times unfolded in a series of obscure recording sessions, as hundreds of unknown musicians entered makeshift studios to record the melodies and rhythms of their local streets and dance halls. Virtually all the music the world considers canonical took shape in these recordings of the late 1920s—Havana’s son, Rio’s samba, New Orleans’ jazz, Buenos Aires’ tango, Seville’s flamenco, Cairo’s tarab, Johannesburg’s marabi, Jakarta’s kroncong, and Honolulu’s hula. The new vernacular

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