To understand popular music in its culutal context, this paper divides the development of the art through the decades.
Jazz - 1920 to 1950 -: Jazz was the most prominent style of music that was categorized as Pop Music from the 1920s to the 1950s. It was seen that in great Britain, jazz was adopted by thoswe musicians who wanted a platform for "social activism and political change". (McKay George, 2005).
The cultural context: Jazz evolved from simple hum able melodies in the early part of the 20th century to become the most complicated and intricate genre of music. Music, at the beginning of the Jazz "era" was not just a part of culture, but a culture all by itself. Though it influenced the younger generation, the music could only be heard in pubs, magazines and some concert halls. Jazz has become an intrinsic part of different cultures of the world Jazz was first heard when the music of the Africans (brought to America as slaves) combined with that of American music prevalent in that time period and culture.
The new Afro American genre of songs was initially typified by the Gospel music, a more "powerful, joyful and effective" rendition by the Africans who adopted Christianity. (Ergelmis, Can). Jelly Morton invented "Stride", music with a "wide perspective" (Ergelmis) mainly based on piano music. When the elements of Gospel music, Stride and the ambience of the Afro-American culture, came together in ragtime music, this symbolized the birth of Jazz, according to popular knowledge.
Ragtime as we know is simple music with simple emotions, which chiefly ainmed to entertain and Scott Joplin (called the king of ragtime writers) popularized the genre to a remmarkable extent. (Biography of Scott Joplin). History tells us that after the first world war the economy of US bloomed and entertainment became an intrinsic part of life. (Ergelmis). Jazz musicians were invited to play their bands and sing, and this herlded the pdevelopment of popularity of this music. Louis Armstrong, was probably the most popular of jazz musiscians, and his rendition of the trumpet took jazz all over the world. Armstrong's commitment to music was phenomenol and by also symbolizing a voice of the Civil Liberties struggle, he will remain an important protagoniist of the cultural life of the US right from the 1920s. ("American masters", Web page)
From the 1920s to the 50s jazz continued to influence the culture of the countries in which it was embedded as a music genre. Clothes, style, vocabulary and general attitude towards life were all influenced deeply by the music, its composers and their lifestyles. (Ergelmis). The economic depression after the 1920s brought lesser concerts for the musicians. They coped with the situation by forming larger bands. The music now came to be called "Swing".
Radio and the movies too helped popularize music as people could now hear recorded performances; this did not burn a hole in theit pockets, as hiring a live band would have. (The history of swing music", Web page). After the 103-s and the tumultous events of the world war, jazz music started declining in popularity and only those deeply interested in the genre payed more attention to it. (Ergelmis), The reason attributed by George McKay (2005) for the decline of jazz, was that it was a fusion of Afro and European cultuures in Britain, something that was a reconciliation of opposing factors.