Guide to Music in Missouri

Resources for Music in Missouri Research

The State Historical Society of Missouri's Manuscript Collections contain many titles of primary source materials related to music.


A Brief History

The state of Missouri has a diverse musical history and is home to several unique musical genres. The people who came here brought their music with them, including French fiddle tunes, waltzes and ballads from Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, and gospel and blues from the South. In several instances, Missourians put their own unique spin on these musical traditions.

Missouri is significant for new types of music, including bluegrass, ragtime, jazz, and blues. African American musicians Scott Joplin of Sedalia and William J. “Blind” Boone of Columbia were instrumental in creating and popularizing ragtime music. After W. C. Handy wrote the tune, “St. Louis Blues,” in 1914, the city became home to a new blues style that relied heavily on piano. Kansas City developed its own kind of jazz throughout the 1930s and turned out notable musicians such as Count Basie and Charlie Parker. In addition to these popular musical genres, symphonic music has long been popular in Missouri's larger cities, especially St. Louis and Kansas City. Thus, Missouri's contributions to music are as diverse as the state’s citizenry.