December 6, 2022

London Jazz

Jazz is a musical art form that originated out of the southern areas of the united states of america in the late 19th and early 20th century. Jazz incorporates african american musical influences with european musics techniques and music theory. Jazz is known for its use of blue notes, syncopation of rhythm and swing, call and response phrasing, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz grew from the African American slaves who were prevented from maintaining their native musical traditions and felt the need to substitute some homegrown form of musical expression.

In the case of Brazil, Blacks were so geographically and socially isolated from the white establishment that they simply were able to retain their own African musical traditions in a virtually pure form. It is thus ironic that would probably never have evolved had it not been for the slave trade as it was practiced specifically in the United States. Louis Moreau Gottschalk (Bamboula, subtitled Danse des Nègres, 1844–45, and Ojos Criollos, 1859, among others). Nevertheless, jazz syncopation struck nonblack listeners as fascinating and novel, because that particular type of syncopation was not present in European classical music. The syncopations in ragtime and jazz were, in fact, the result of reducing and simplifying the complex, multilayered, polyrhythmic, and polymetric designs indigenous to all kinds of West African ritual dance and ensemble music. In other words, the former accentuations of multiple vertically competing metres were drastically simplified to syncopated accents.

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Such composers as the Brazilian mulatto José Maurício Nunes Garcia were fully in touch with the musical advances of their time that were developing in Europe and wrote music in those styles and traditions. American slaves, by contrast, were restricted not only in their work conditions and religious observances but in leisure activities, including music making. Although slaves who played such instruments as the violin, horn, and oboe were exploited for their musical talents in such cities as Charleston, South Carolina, these were exceptional situations. By and large the slaves were relegated to picking up whatever little scraps of music were allowed them. That jazz developed uniquely in the United States, not in the Caribbean or in South America is historically fascinating. Many Blacks in those other regions were very often emancipated by the early 1800s and thus were free individuals who actively participated in the cultural development of their own countries.

These in turn rather quickly encountered European musical elements—for example, simple dance and entertainment musics and shape-note hymn tunes, such as were prevalent in early 19th-century North America. It was developed partially from ragtime and blues and is often characterized by syncopated rhythms, polyphonic ensemble playing, varying degrees of improvisation, often deliberate deviations of pitch, and the use of original timbres. In effect these highly expressive—and in African terms very meaningful—pitch deviations were superimposed on the diatonic scale common to almost all European classical and vernacular music. Syncopation and swing, often considered essential and unique to, are in fact lacking in much authentic jazz, whether of the 1920s or of later decades. Again, the long-held notion that swing could not occur without syncopation was roundly disproved when trumpeters Louis Armstrong and Bunny Berigan frequently generated enormous swing while playing repeated, unsyncopated quarter notes.

Slaves, who partially preserved them against all odds in the plantation culture of the American South. These elements are not precisely identifiable because they were not documented—at least not until the mid- to late 19th century, and then only sparsely. Furthermore, Black slaves came from diverse West African tribal cultures with distinct musical traditions.