Monday, September 2, 2019

Jazz and Culture Essay -- American History Music Cultural Essays

Jazz and Culture Never is the inadequacy of language more apparent than when trying to discuss or describe music. There is a colloquial axiom that suggests that talking about music is like dancing about literature. What words are sufficient to explain your favorite album to a person who cannot hear? There are none. James Baldwin, in his story â€Å"Sonny’s Blues,† does as well as anyone can: â€Å"Creole began to tell us what the blues were all about. They were not about anything very new. He and his boys up there were keeping it new, at the risk of ruin, destruction, madness, and death, in order to find new ways to make us listen. For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard.† I will do my best to talk to you today about jazz. In the 1890s, New Orleans’ black population was divided along Canal Street. On one side were the Creoles, French or Spanish speaking free blacks who were generally well educated and had achieved upper class status in their community. Creoles developed a musical tradition based on the European model and, according to Len Weinstock, â€Å"prided themselves on their formal knowledge of European music, precise technique and soft delicate tone and had all of the social and cultural values that characterize the upper class† ( Across Canal Street, newly freed blacks, mostly poor and uneducated, were developing their own music; these musicians were â€Å"schooled in the blues, Gospel music, and work songs that they sang or played mostly by ear† (Weinstock). In 1894, a segregation law forced the Creole blacks across Canal Street and the musical styles were forced into contact. So, while music that... ...l as a result of the attention this country’s jazz musicians received abroad. â€Å"Jazz,† Levine writes, â€Å"was an expression of that other side of ourselves that strove to recognize the positive aspects of our newness and our heterogeneity; that learned to be comfortable with the fact that a significant part of our heritage derived from Africa and other non-European source; and that recognized in the various syncretized cultures that became so characteristic of the United States, not an embarrassing weakness but a dynamic source of strength† (Levine, 8). Works Cited: Jones, LeRoi. Blues People. New York: Harper Collins, 2002 Levine, Lawrence W. â€Å"Jazz and American Culture,† Journal of American Folklore, v. 102 n. 403, Jan. – Mar. 1989 Weinstock, Len. â€Å"The Origins of Jazz,† located at:

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