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Birth of Jazz

 
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Nimble Jack

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 11:25 am    Post subject: Birth of Jazz Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm having to do a reasearch paper for my english class, the topic I chose was Jazz. It was broad, I know, but I decided that I would be able to narrow down my scope once I became more informed. You see I've played Jazz music for five years now but as far as the history of Jazz, I'm rather incompetent. I've now decided to focus on the birth of Jazz and its transformation from ragtime to Jazz. If you know anything about it please post it here. My topic is still a little fluid but if i had to describe it's consistency I would say slightly stronger than Jell-O. Also, there is a due date for certain materials concerning the reaserch paper, so if you are seeing this post two months from it's original posting then you can still post, it just won't be any profit for me.

Thanks everyone, I'm sure that someone can come though.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I don't know too much about Jazz, but I played it for a year and it interests me. I doubt I can help you, as I'm sure you know more than I, but it might be easier to help you if you told us the format of the paper you are writing, and maybe the target length of the paper. That would help narrow your paper down.
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Zorrow




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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Jazz is creative, spontaneous, lively, energetic, romantic, boisterous and playful...It is incredible driving music and whimsical dinner accompaniment. Jazz is the ultimate romantic encounter companion...

It is the sort of music that crawls inside you slowly and captures a place in your heart normally reserved for romance and passion...It is a burning glow of seduction and a life-long journey of discovery...


http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=15795

According to what I remember, jazz was started in New Orleans in the early 1900s.
Jazz came from a combination of ragtime and blues, i think. Ragtime was hot in the 1890s, if I remember correctly. I read all these occasionally from email newsletters, so I don't know if it's reliable, but I guess you should try this site if you want to know more about it. I've got it on its timeline page.
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/timeline.php
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Sophita

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

PBS.Org's Jazz - See "A History of America's Music" for an overview, Jazz in Time for a timeline of Jazz, from the civil war up to beyond the sixties, and all the other options are good for information too. I recommend trying to track down the video series of this if you're interested; it's a rather good documentary on the history of Jazz, and has a lot of recordings in it. Definately one of the better documentaries on Jazz, IMO.

All Music Guide has a page on various styles of Jazz, as well as essays on it. Well recommended for easy understanding.

For text resources, you have A history of Jazz, which was a tie-in to the PBS series mentioned above. This one, however, is an excellent book in and of itself and the author does a good job giving a historical analysis of Jazz, which is somewhat hard. Recommended, if you can find it. (Check your libraries!) All Music Guide also puts out a book on various forms of music and Jazz is no exception. I've never been able to track this book down, but I have the rock book and it is quite good, though the historical references make up only a small amount of the material (most is artist/album reviews). Be warned as there evidently a few errors in this edition. {Penguin's Guide to Jazz seems to be considered the definitive jazz review text, but they limit their focus to albums in print, which means you might lose autobiographial/album reviews from some very easy albums no longer in print. This also doesn't really have any history included but individual jazz artists' histories, so this might be best kept for the true afficinado and not a school report.

I love jazz. It's the most beautiful form of music, IMO; but then, maybe I'm biased - both my instruments are jazz instruments, and it's most of what I can play. (Well, the Piano kind of is; the piano is an everyman instrument, slipping through most genres like a fish slips through the water. But one of my biggest musical heroes is Thelonious Monk, and my goal is to one day play as well as he did, so I count it as a jazz instrument. :D)
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Nimble Jack

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Everyone's Grudge, my paper has to be a target length of about four to six pages. As far as the format, it's rather open ended. My teacher hasn't really specified yet, but that doesn't mean that she won't.

Zorrow, thank you very much for the web adresses, I was in dire need of another source tonight, and those will serve me very well. I need them for a source check tomorrow. Again, very much appreciated.

Sophita, I actually came across the documentary in my school library, I've watched an hour of it so far, and it confermed things that Zorrow had mentioned. Thanks for the other recommendations, I'll try to look into them, however not tonight, time and space, you understand, will not allow me to.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hey, Nimble Jack, no need to thank me, I'm just a naturally kind person! haha just kidding.

So, it has been a month, surely your paper was handed up already? So how was it?
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Nimble Jack

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 24, 2006 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ahh no a rough draft is due tomorrow, and tonight I'm staying up really late. The topic was too big for me, I realize that now, cause I could have just analyzed one aspect of something that contributed to jazz, like African contributions, or something like that. Now I feel that I have an obligation to let you all see my draft since you helped me when I needed it, but it's really bad. I'm not atcually sure if it is or not but judging on how frustrated I got writing it, and how I feel right now, I'd say it is one of my worst, but I feel an obligation so here it its. By the way if you don't read it, I won't be offended.

The Birth of Jazz
"Jazz is the quintessential American music" (Jazz), and like America, jazz music is a diverse melting pot of culture, and diversity. An extraordinary amount of factors came to influence the American contribution to the world of music. In order to understand the origins of jazz one must become absorbed in the world that jazz first took breath, New Orleans. Although jazz does not really exists until the 1890's its roots stretch back into the eighteen-teens, the entire development of jazz being spurred and halted by American history.
New Orleans is a port city and accordingly so it is marked by its astounding diversity. In the early eighteen hundreds slaves were being brought up to New Orleans from the West Indies, because of the flourishing slave trade. The slaves brought a very distinct West Indian flavor to New Orleans, in particularly the weekly meetings of the slaves in Congo Square. At these gatherings, the slaves would have a big party with people playing drums in intricate rhythms that were thought to come from Africa (Jazz 11:00). Some sources say that the African origin was just a belief, and say that the slaves came from the West Indies and the beats came from there, but others maintain that the beat is African. The most likely theory is that beat may have had a West Indies origin but the social importance of it came from Africa. African tribes were highly ritualized, with music playing either a cursory or a major role in most affairs, the Yoruba language often shifting from word to song because of some words were not only what you say mattered but the pitch at which you say it also determines the meaning (Collier 8).
At this time New Orleans was still new to the United States, having just been acquired in 1803 from the Louisiana Purchase, this left a very distinct French mark on New Orleans, which persists to this day. Part of this French colonial culture was Carnival, a weeklong party of parades, dancing, and anything. This strong cultural dependency upon music created a demand for musicians, and so people became musicians, especially Creole people.
Creoles were people who were half black and half white, or some other percentage of the two. The Creoles resented their black heritage, and instead identified with their European background. One form of this was in their music; Creole musicians were trained in the European way with Bach, and Beethoven (Jazz 13:00). Pre-Civil War Creole musicians in New Orleans even had their own symphony (Jazz 14:01). Creoles also were in marching bands, and dancing bands, the boast of some was that they could play music to fit any type of dancing.
This unique mix of myriad cultures makes New Orleans the stage for the play that will end in jazz. All that is left to add are the cultural elements that will serve as the stars of the performance, first up is minstrelsy. Minstrelsy, commonly known as "Blackface" was when white people would go around in a troop and put on shows, where they would get "blacked up", and pretend to be black people. These troops would travel all around the nation, performing anywhere and everywhere that they could. To the audiences the minstrel shows were singing and dancing fun, at the expense of the black race, many of the jokes and situations making black people look inferior and stupid. One thing that these shows did was set precedence for white people to imitate black people in their music. The songs in minstrel songs being written after the fashion of black songs of the time, one show entitled "Jim Crow" was written by a slave master who heard his slave singing it, and decided to write it down (Jazz 18:40).
Another character in the play would be ragtime. Ragtime was started right in America and was marked by its "boom-chick" drums and syncopated rhythms, and melody (Schmidt-Jones). During ragtime's popular age, it had four main styles, only one really exists today, that is the style of ragging, or taking a well known tune and using syncopation to turn it into a ragtime tune (Schmidt-Jones). Jazz would later take syncopated rhythm and melody from ragtime.
If ragtime music were the Romeo in the play of jazz, then the blues would have to be the Juliet. The blues was the response of the black musicians to minstrel music. They went about it by taking their sorrows and troubles and putting them into song that was highly improvised, and rooted in Baptist hymns. The standard blues progression is based off of only four chords placed in different spots in normally a twelve bar phrase, and while ragtime music fit in with traditional European modes of music, it appeared that the blues existed outside of them (Collier 5). The blues were used as a cultural thing to get rid of the junk that you had to deal with in life. For the black people, they had to deal with white oppression and financial instabilities. Everyone could relate to blues, and its simplicity made it easy for people to be able to jump on the bandwagon and sing or play their own. The Baptist part of the blues showed up in the vibrato that colored the voices of blues singers (Jazz 30:00), the vibrato carried over when the blues went instrumental (Jazz 29:25), and the vibrato and part of the style of the blues is what it contributed to jazz.
The development of ragtime and the blues is all occurring in the late 1880's and the early 1890's (Ronallo), so at this time we have European trained Creoles that are also playing ragtime, and we have the lower class blacks that are into the blues. In 1877 reconstruction ends, and with it federal protection of black rights in the south end as well, and by 1890 time has caught up with the state of Louisiana, and Jim Crow laws are passed (named for the Jim Crow minstrel show). Part of the Jim Crow laws was the grandfather clause, which stated that if anyone in your family lineage up to your grandfather was black then you are considered black by the law. This caused 99% of the Creoles to now be on the same social ladder as the rest of the blacks (Jazz 33:25), which, in turn, made them intermingle with each other in band settings and sparked the beginnings of jazz.
Buddy Bolden is the man that some historians believe formed the first true jazz band (Jazz 38:30), others believe that jazz music was a collaborative effort though many musicians (Cox). The more widely believed of the two theories is that of the former, and that Bolden's contribution to jazz was the element of personal flavor that each player adds. It was Bolden's approach to solo and in that way he gave the music a very personal feel to it, so much so that it has been said that "Perhaps the truest measure of the validity of jazz is that it can be all things to all men... (Ostransky 8)."
Once jazz had established itself in New Orleans, it spread itself out from it like spider web, using people as threads. Jazz hero and innovator, "Jelly-Roll" Morton was kicked out of his great-grandmother's house in New Orleans at the age of 17 for having a night job playing jazz at a strip club (Jazz 53:30). "Jelly-Roll" never settled after that he just went from place to place, taking his jazz with him. In this way though countless numbers of musicians, jazz was spread across America until around 1920 it was known nation-wide, and twenty years after that jazz was known in virtually every area of the globe (Collier 3).
Born out of diversity, and tempered by strife jazz has come out of the land of the free and home of the brave as the American gift to the world music scene. Some see jazz as affecting every genera of music today, from rock to modern concert music (Collier 4), many just like to listen and appreciate the raw art and feeling it exudes.
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Nimble Jack

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I got the draft back a little bit ago, and here is my final copy. Its a lot better, I think, still probably not great, but defiinately better. Here it is:


The Birth of Jazz
"Jazz is the quintessential American music" (Jazz 2:00), and like America, jazz music is a diverse melting pot of culture, and diversity. An extraordinary amount of factors came to influence Jazz, the American contribution to the world of music. In order to understand the origins of jazz, one must understand the world in which jazz took its first breath, New Orleans. Although jazz does not really exist until the 1890's, its roots stretch back into the early eighteen hundreds.
New Orleans is a port city and accordingly so it is marked by its astounding diversity. In the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries slaves were being brought up to New Orleans from the West Indies. The slaves brought with themselves a very distinct West Indian flavor, in particularly the weekly meetings of the slaves in Congo Square. At these gatherings, the slaves would have a big party with people playing drums in intricate rhythms that were thought by the general populace to have originated in Africa (Jazz 11:00). Some sources say that the African origin was just a belief, and that the slaves came from the West Indies and the beats came from there, but others maintain that the beat is African. Most information on the beats being mostly speculation due to lack of recordings of the sessions, however, the most likely theory is that the beat had a West Indies origin but took its social importance from Africa.
African tribes were highly ritualized, with music playing at everything from a cursory to a major role in most affairs. An example of the heavy stress on music is shown in the Yoruba language. The language itself can seem a half song, because some words will change their meaning depending on the manner in which it is said (Collier 8).
At this time New Orleans was still new to the United States, having just been acquired in 1803 from the Louisiana Purchase, this left a very distinct French mark on New Orleans, which persists to this day. Part of this French colonial culture was Carnival, a weeklong celebration of the flesh, which occurs in the weeks preceding Lent, music and dance playing large roles in the festivities. Throughout history, New Orleans has put stress, and pride on its Carnivals, and so has placed a strong cultural dependency upon music. This has created a demand for musicians, and so, many people became musicians, especially in the Creole community.
Creoles were people who were half black and half white, or some other percentage of the two. The Creoles of the time resented their black heritage, and instead identified with their European, or white, background. One form of this was in their music; Creole musicians were trained in the European tradition with Bach, and Beethoven (Jazz 13:00). Pre-Civil War Creole musicians in New Orleans even had their own symphony (Jazz 14:01). Creoles also were in marching bands, and dancing bands, the boast of some was that they could play music to fit any type of dancing.
At the time of the end of Reconstruction there are many European trained Creoles that are now on the same social ladder as the rest of the blacks (Jazz 33:25). These Creoles can no longer work in the symphony because they no longer have the white crowds, and so they are forced to form bands with the black community. This situation gave New Orleans a lot of capable musicians, and that is one of the key ingredients that was pivotal in sparking the creation of jazz music.
The peculiar social situation of New Orleans is one thing that set the stage for the play that will end in jazz. All that is left to add are the musical elements that will serve as the stars of the performance; first up is minstrelsy. Minstrelsy, the most commonly know as "Blackface", was when white people would go around in a troop and put on shows where they would get "blacked up", and pretend to be black people. These troops would travel all around the nation, performing anywhere and everywhere that they could. To the audiences the minstrel shows were singing and dancing fun, at the expense of the black race, many of the jokes and situations making black people look inferior and stupid. One thing that these shows did, however, was to set precedence for white people to imitate black people in their music. The songs in minstrel songs were written after the fashion of black songs of the time. One show entitled "Jim Crow" was written by a slave master who heard his slave singing it, and decided to write it down (Jazz 18:40).
Another character in the jazz play would be ragtime. Ragtime was started right in America and was marked by its "boom-chick" drums and syncopated rhythms, and melody (Schmidt-Jones). During ragtime's popular age, it had four main styles, only one really exists today, that is the style of ragging, or taking a well known tune and using syncopation to turn it into a ragtime tune (Schmidt-Jones). Jazz would later take syncopated rhythm and melody from ragtime.
If ragtime music were the Romeo in the play of jazz, then the blues would have to be the Juliet. The blues was the response of the black musicians to minstrel music. Musicians and singers would go about playing/writing the blues by taking their sorrows and troubles and putting them into song that had high emphasis on vocals. The vocal lines were normally highly improvised, and rooted in Baptist hymns. The standard blues progression is based off of only four chords placed in different spots in normally a twelve bar phrase. While ragtime music fit in with traditional European modes of music, it appeared that the blues existed outside of them (Collier 5). The blues were used as a type of cultural scapegoat to get rid of the diversity and injustice that blacks had to deal with in life. Everyone could relate to blues, and its simplicity made it easy for people to be able to jump on the bandwagon and sing or play, either with others, or on their own. The Baptist part of the blues showed up in the vibrato that colored the voices of blues singers (Jazz 30:00), the vibrato carried over when the blues went instrumental (Jazz 29:25), and the vibrato and part of the style of the blues is what it contributed to jazz.
Buddy Bolden is the man that some historians believe formed the first true jazz band (Jazz 38:30), others believe that jazz music was a collaborative effort though many musicians (Cox). The more widely believed of the two theories is that of the former, and that Bolden's contribution to jazz was the element of personal flavor that each player adds. It was Bolden's approach to solo and in that way he gave the music a very personal feel to it, so much so that it has been said that "Perhaps the truest measure of the validity of jazz is that it can be all things to all men... (Ostransky 8)."
Once jazz had established itself in New Orleans, it spread itself out from it like spider web, using people as threads. Jazz hero and innovator, "Jelly-Roll" Morton was kicked out of his great-grandmother's house in New Orleans at the age of 17 for having a night job playing jazz at a strip club (Jazz 53:30). "Jelly-Roll" never settled after that. He simply went from place to place, taking his jazz with him. In this way though countless numbers of musicians, jazz was spread across America until around 1920 it was known nation-wide, and twenty years after that jazz was known in virtually every area of the globe (Collier 3).
Born out of diversity and tempered by strife, jazz has come out of the land of the free and home of the brave as the American gift to the world music scene. Some see jazz as affecting every genre of music today, from rock to modern concert music (Collier 4), many simply enjoy listening and appreciating the raw art and feeling that jazz music emits.


In case you're wondering, here are the sources that were used to write it, sorry if I didn't use your source, but rest assured that your source most likely lead me to another source that assisted me in some way, so everyone was a great help. Its in MLA format, just so you know.

Collier, James. The Making of Jazz. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1978.

Cox, Norrie. A History of New Orleans Jazz. 2003. Mutt Productions. 24 April 2006. <http://www.norriecox.com/jazzhistory.html>

Jazz. Dir. Ken Burns. Keith David. Delory Lindo, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Bower. Florentine Films. 2000.

Ostransky, Leroy. Understanding Jazz. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1977.

Ronallo, Doug and friends. Jazz History Time Line. 2006. All About Jazz. 22 March 2006. <http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/timeline.php>

Schmidt-Jones, Catherine. Ragtime. 17 May 2005. Connexions. 24 April 2006. <http://cnx.org/content/m10878/latest/>
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