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Americana refers to artifacts of the culture of the United States. Examples of this culture include baseball, apple pie, jazz, Superman, the Diner, George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, the music of Aaron Copland (notably his Fanfare for the Common Man), and American folk art, such as that of Norman Rockwell.
In music, Americana is a loose subset of American folk music, that is perhaps best defined as “classic American music”—ranging in style from roots-based bluegrass to alternative country, blues, zydeco, and other native forms. Americana music is the focus of the bi-monthly U.S. magazine No Depression. One of the main reasons Americana is used to describe such a wide variety of musical genres is because of the diverse range of cultural influences which we call American. For example, traditional Bluegrass instrumentation consists of the banjo which originated on the African continent, guitars from Europe, and fiddling styles which have their roots in traditional Irish and other Gaelic fiddling techniques. The 1960s group The Band is often cited as the biggest modern influence on Americana, especially in rock and roll.
In the visual fine arts, Americana usually indicates a concern with the marginal aspects of historic American culture; carnivals, popular amusements such as side-shows, vernacular typography and signage, old horror movies in the ‘haunted house’ genre, the old West, and the backwoods cultures. It has increasingly veered off into a dark Gothic approach to Americana that was first visualised by U.S. writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Ray Bradbury.
Americana is also a small town in the countryside of the state of São Paulo, Brazil. It is notable due to the 1866 influx of American Confederate refugees who fled the Southern U.S., including Senator William H. Morris.
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