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The History Of Jazz Music - Essay Example

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The paper delves into the origin of jazz music, and its formation over the years. It examines various influences that were instrumental in its formation. It also takes into account the various phases that marked its development and musicians who popularized the genre.
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The History Of Jazz Music
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The History Of Jazz Music

The genre is said to have taken roots in New Orleans because of its port, which was one of the important terminals in the New World. This port not only facilitated trade and commerce but also served as the meeting point of many cultural influences. Besides, slave culture was still prevalent in New Orleans and African Americans and slaves and free people used to gathering for an evening of music and dance. Despite the fact that elements that shaped jazz such as blues, Ragtime Brass band music, hymn and spiritual music, minstrel music were simultaneously prevalent in other cities of United States, it was the Creole population in New Orleans who played a crucial role in the development of jazz. (Weinstock.L )
The Creole population after living under the French and Spanish rule came to be known as Americans after the Louisiana Purchase and Louisiana statehood. The sect rose to the highest levels of the society in the 19th century and had an impact on the economic and cultural influences of that period. Creole musicians played at the opera and symphony halls and formed some of the best society bands of that time. These bands characterized the style of the upper classes with its precise technique, formal knowledge of European music and soft tone, embodying the upper class cultural values. On other end of the spectrum, an impoverished section of blacks lived in the Westside Street of New Orleans, newly freed but deprived of economic and cultural benefits. The musicians hailing from this section of the society drew inspiration from blues, gospel music and work songs. While the Creole bands reveled in correct rendition, the Westside bands used improvisation to mark their performances.
The bands played music was inspired by Ragtime era but included elements of European music and brass bands playing funeral music. These bands were popular since their songs were about the highs and lows of life.
This gave rise to a new genre altogether, which was based on creative expression, imagination and blues. Though it was called as the "local flavor" of Ragtime, it did not have much similarity to Ragtime music and was played by small marching bands or solos with pianos or banjos.
The turning point occurred in 1894 when a racial segregation law placed a lot of restrictions on the Creole people and they were forced to live with Westside blacks. But they soon overcame it and got back at the helm of musical leadership of American section. This clash of cultures is the underlying theme of many songs composed by Jelly Morton, an important development in jazz history. Morton added a swinging syncopation to music such as Ragtime, Opera, French songs and dances. He also improvised on music from opera to blues, which soon came to be known as "Hot Jazz", one of the first styles of the genre.
Thus jazz originated from the strong underlying beat provided by the African music and the dance rhythms provided by the European music, which gave Jazz its characteristic swing. Together with the scale of the blue notes and with the socio-cultural influences of that era especially in New Orleans, jazz got its character- freedom of expression. Joe Oliver and Louis Armstrong were some of the early Jazz musicians during the period who were known for their "Dixieland" style of music.
"Hot jazz" became more popular after musicians moved to Chicago from New Orleans after pubs in Storyville in New Orleans, the main venues for this music, closed down. Musicians from Midwest now began gravitating towards Chicago because of better ... Read More
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