The History Of Jazz

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The twentieth century is one of the most revolutionary time periods for the United States along with the rest of the world. Many aspects of American culture took great steps forward during this time frame. One aspect in particular, the field of music, really began to take off in the early 1900s. American music was impacted in many ways by historical events, innovations, and individual people. Thanks to a long series of events including the drive and determination of many young artists, the unique style of music known as jazz was able to emerge and thrive throughout the mid-twentieth century.
Before discussing this concept of music, the question as to what jazz is must be answered. Jazz is its own unique style of music, with roots in blues, ragtime, and both African spiritual and traditional music. Jazz, in a sense, began to develop in Africa long before the slave trade with the creation of the pulse or feel of African music. This same type of feel is one of the most defining characteristics of modern jazz music. The idea of this pulse allows different players to play different rhythms at the same speeds. These complex rhythms mashed together, or polyrhythms, were introduced to the United States as the slave trade began to take its course. Afterwards, spirituals blossomed from “plantation Blacks who fused Western European harmonies with African songs, modalities, and practices” (Banfield, 96) such as polyrhythms. Spirituals were quite popular among the slave community and eventually gave birth to the next musical stepping stone to jazz, blues.
Blues is often thought of as plantation and country songs taken to the streets of the city. The most defining trait, how it sounds, perfectly resembles the troubling experiences in the wo...

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...the form of Black music. One of the most important phases of jazz for the African Americans was its acceptance. Elitist White musical circles considered some form Black artistry acceptable for the first time. Leopold Stokowski, a very renowned conductor, said “Jazz has come to stay because it is an expression of the times… it is useless to fight against it. The Negro musicians of America are playing a great part in this change. They have an open mind, and unbiased outlook”. However, the first band to create a jazz recording was an all white band who called themselves The Original Dixieland Jass Band, so although Whites accepted this new form of music, they didn’t give credit to the Blacks at first. Eventually, jazz became America’s popular music which was exported internationally, and of all the Black musical forms, jazz is the most highly developed and successful.
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