Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A district associated with musicians, composers, and publishers of popular music.
  • n. The publishers and composers of popular music considered as a group.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • proper n. The songwriting and publishing industry.
  • proper n. District in New York City centered on 28th Street during the period roughly from 1885 to the 1920's where thousands of popular songs were commercially written.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a city district (originally in New York) where composers and publishers of popular music do business

Etymologies

Probably from tin pan, tinny piano + alley1 (from the cheap pianos associated with music publishers' offices).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • A recent column about tin and the comic-strip character Tintin prompted William Vance to recall the phrase Tin Pan Alley, in print by 1908.

    The Globe and Mail - Home RSS feed

  • A century ago, the windows of music companies broadcast a cacophony of competing piano sounds that earned the area the nickname Tin Pan Alley, to describe what one journalist said sounded like pounding on tin pans.

    Latest Headlines - ABC 7 News

  • The windows of various music companies released a cacophony of competing piano sounds that earned this part of West 28th Street the nickname Tin Pan Alley, to describe what one journalist said sounded like pounding on tin pans.

    New York News, Weather, Sports & Traffic - WCBSTV.com

  • WALKING off the Charing Cross Road on a Thursday evening, I wander down Denmark Street, once known as Tin Pan Alley, and the home of British songwriting publishing for over 50 years.

    Evening Mail news round-up

  • Much of his early work was done in a series of buildings in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood known as Tin Pan Alley, which have now been put up for sale.

    New York News, Weather, Sports & Traffic - WCBSTV.com

  • The final item was unsatisfactory: “describe both the positive and negative impacts of significant examples of cultural movements in art, music, and literature such as Tin Pan Alley, the Harlem Renaissance, the Beat Generation, rock and roll, the Chicano Mural Movement, and country and western music on American society.”

    Are Texas's social studies standards really so bad?

  • Yes, he was an ecstatic Broadway mystic and a Tin Pan Alley shaman during those moments when his heart opened and threw out a rope that lassoed a song, a tune holding the heightened longings of love.

    The Bushman Way of Tracking God

  • An unabashed romantic in a guild that, like the butcher's union, isn't supposed to sample the marbled inventory that it handles on the job, Dameron tried to marry the sentimental products of Tin Pan Alley with the hard-edged experiments of be-bop.

    Madd About Tadd

  • A Tin Pan Alley staple beginning in his teenage years, churning out rags and pop tunes, Gershwin elevated to serious musical craft with 1924's "Rhapsody in Blue" and 1935's "Porgy and Bess," both quintessential American music masterpieces.

    Americana, Syriana

  • Recalling the days when jazz musicians recorded the popular music of the day and transformed Tin Pan Alley tunes into lively art, he even took a whack at Disney, and knocked him out of the park with “Beauty and the Beast”.

    Payton, Pelt & Hargrove: 3 (Sorta) Young Lions of the Jazz Trumpet

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