Impact Of Jazz On American Life

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Jazz: A Reaction to American Life
Jazz, the “purest expression of American democracy; a music built on individualism and compromise, independence and cooperation” has had a great impact on American life since the early 1900s (Burns, 2009). When jazz first emerged on the scene, it immediately made a profound impact on all individuals who experienced it. It didn’t matter who you were. This being said, jazz was especially life changing for the African American population. It opened the door of opportunity for this group of people, and they quickly grasped onto this chance before it could disappear. The development of jazz can be viewed as a reaction to American life because it worked as a form of expression, placed an emphasis on collaboration,
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20). For the African American people, this was huge. Jazz music acted as a common language spoken amongst this population. Sometimes it was soft and sweet, and other times it was very loud and almost obnoxious. No matter how it was presented though, there was always an underlying line of experience and life being portrayed through the notes played and words sang within a piece of jazz music. For example, Charley Patton’s “Down the Dirt Road Blues” told a story by discussing common topics such as travel, sex, manual labor, sadness, oppression, and death (Harker, 2005, p. 33). Before jazz, individuals had difficulties telling these types of stories in such free, effective ways. In addition, jazz allowed African Americans to gain a sense of individuality, even though their label of “slave” was still present. To demonstrate, with the onset of jazz, slaves began writing spirituals and plantation songs by meshing European style music with specific African elements (Harker, 2005, p. 21). Their masters could do nothing to stop them from expressing their feelings of frustration and doubt in the form of music. Jazz helped individuals through both the good and bad times, while giving them a new way to express themselves in ways never before…show more content…
Jazz brought together individuals, who had the common goal of making music. This was especially true when evaluating the African American population. They knew that they had to bond together in order to survive the constant discrimination they faced each and every day, and jazz seemed to help them unite on a deeper level as they expressed all of their feelings through song. On top of that, each musician involved in a jazz band brought something unique to the table, and this diversity make some incredible things happen through the various instruments and notes being played. While playing, these musicians soon began improvising and playing “off the cuff” (Vernick, 2009). But in order for this technique to work out successfully, the individuals in jazz groups had to trust one another and embrace the uncertainty about what was going on. It was a requirement that members had to listen to one another very carefully and work together to create something powerful. Jazz brought a whole new meaning to the whole idea of collaboration; it helped them survive and
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