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Essay example - The development of Blues and Jazz

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Music
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Jazz and the Blues The period between the 1920s and the 1930s, an epoch in itself, is aptly named the Jazz Age. Such was the influence of jazz music upon the Western world. The birth of jazz has often been traced to the American south and its progenitors were the African Americans…

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Like jazz, the blues originated in the Deep South and had its roots in folk and popular culture, namely African American spirituals, gospel music or folk ballads (Culture and Change: Black History in America). Ironically while the proverbial Jazz Age celebrated the material excess and splendor of the years of economic boom which preceded the Great Depression, jazz and the blues had their roots in the melancholy and suffering which typified the lives of African Americans in the plantation society of the Deep South. The sadness of these musical forms, though it speaks tacitly of the pain of separation and exploitation, does not diminish its aesthetic beauty. In fact, perhaps quite paradoxically, jazz speaks of sadness even as it embraces an extremely life-affirming spirit. Perhaps the most important characteristic of jazz is its emphasis on artistic freedom. Improvisation is the most central facet of this musical genre. Improvisation which is essentially the act of creating melodies and lyrics in the flow of a performance debunks the very idea of the normative in creative expression. Improvisation is seen in the solo performances of the best known jazz artist, Louis Armstrong as well as in the “free jazz” styles of artists such as Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman, and John Coltrane (ibid). The trajectory of jazz and the blues is many pronged. ...
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