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Origins of Jazz

Powerful Essays
Origins of Jazz

Perhaps the greatest cultural and musical origination in all of American history; jazz offers

a unique sincerity and magnetism that has withstood the test of time. From its humble beginnings in New Orleans, jazz quickly spread throughout the United States and soon became an illustrious component of American culture. This art form not only offered a distinct and musically euphonic prospect, but also gave voice to the African American community. The development of jazz tore down barriers and confines forever shaping music and culture around the world.

Emerging in the late eighteenth through early twentieth century, the earliest point of origin of what is now modern jazz can be traced back to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Specifically a place called Congo Square (now part of the Louis Armstrong Park) is esteemed as the birthplace of jazz. Here, it is recorded that enslaved Africans would gather to keep their culture alive through song and dance. Primarily using drums and other percussive instruments, they were able to create pulsating and throbbing paeans to their heritage (Evans 1-2). With the subsequent incorporation of accompaniment by other instruments and other musical styles, these characteristic rhythmic cells and vigorous drumbeats became intrinsic to the development of what would later become jazz (Evans 2-3).

Marching bands became extensively throughout the nineteenth century due to the surplus drums and brass instruments formerly used by the military after the civil war, especially amongst black and Creole musicians. Thus, the syncopated polyrhythm of African music was mixed with traditional marching music and other popular musical styles, and became...

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