Is Jazz Strictly American? Brandon McKoy March 19, 2018 Word Count: 2612 2 Contents Research Question: Section 1: Source Analysis Section 2: Investigation Section 3: Reflection Bibliography Page 3 Page 3-5 Page 5-10 Page 10 Page 11 3 Research Question To what extent of cultural history is jazz music strictly American? Section One: Source Analysis Taylor, Billy. “Jazz.” The Musical Quarterly 68, no. 2 (April 1982): 21-25. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/742030 (accessed February 12, 2018). The Musical Quarterly is an academic journal founded in 1915 by Oscar Sonneck; famous librarian and musicologists. Its notice has resided main in the United States but it does include some British influence from different interviews that take place within the stories. In time Music Quarterly, has produced the oeuvre of many different composers and artists. Some including Aaron Copland and Henry Cowell. But the journal title “Jazz” was developed by a famous jazz pianist and educator also broadcaster by the name of Billy Taylor. Born William Taylor in 1964 Mr. Taylor always shared a passion in classical music and the fast-paced life style of jazz creation. He served as a Professor of Music at East Carolina University in Greenville North Carolina for over thirty years and 1994 until his death in 2010 he was the artistic director for jazz at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. As a jazz activist, Billy Taylor, with some other friends developed a program to save the homes and the lives of America's elderly jazz and blues musicians, later including musicians who survived Hurricane Katrina. This source is valuable because it details about pure development of breaded jazz and how its origins have been sustained over time. It goes by doing so to explain what jazz really is. With this secondary source, it is possible to explore true reasoning behind what makes the genre of music what it is today. The reason that this source is potentially limited to my research is because it’s from an American standpoint with British influence. In past occurrences, the British have been known to adjust the identity and culture of Africa, and with jazz’s strong African roots the journal’s British 4 influence may have potentially discredited certain parts of its productiveness, because they did not think Africans were smart enough to make such a beauty. Also in discussing limitations, it is important to note that Billy Taylor supported those persons in the jazz arena who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. This means that Taylor is possibly in favor of jazz being strictly American from his New Orleans influence. Burns, Ken. Jazz- A Film by Ken Burns. Produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. DVD Disc 1, PBS Home Video, 2001. A nine-part miniseries released in year 2000, directed by American filmmaker Ken Burns. Its main format of broadcasting was through PBS channel but later in 2001 it was released on DVD and VHS. This is a secondary source that expresses and details the contributions of jazz to its overall creation. Born Kenneth Lauren Burns in July of 1953, Burns is known for his style of using archival footage and photographs in documentary films. His widely known for his very expressive styles documentary series. Burns’ documentaries have earned two Academy Award nominations and have won several Emmy Awards, among other honors in the film industry. In his documentary “Jazz” Burns definitely displays his style of documentary. It is in chronological order and very dramatic. Burns begins the video with some reference to African culture but it is not dwelled in long. He goes on to explore where unknown details of jazz’s origins were derived from, such as the name of jazz coming from a perfume that New Orleans prostitutes would wear. But in the meat of his work, Burns discusses a lot of American composers such as different swing musicians that hold the pillar of the genre. Different people such as Louis Armstrong all the way to Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, Burns surveys a span of forty-five years of a cultural boom. 5 It is believed that Burns purpose in creating this documentary was to explore some unresolved theories about jazz. This documentary can also serve to prove heavily disputed results of the creation of specific areas of the genre era. An example of this is in episode four of the series where the video discusses who recorded the first jazz record. It goes on to explain why some people believed that one figure had supported a possible claim then the claim is contested by facts from the rare exhibits presented. Some may say that Burns’ work is limited and to a certain degree that claim is agreed with by many. Often in Ken Burns documentaries he explores American disputes based on what counter-ideas foreigners have showed. In the “Jazz” series the reason it is not fully credible is because every person interviewed in the video is American or has some strong American influence. This means that the video is essentially biased. Also, the majority of exhibits in the video come from British and European museums, so it is not the most sensible to considered the bearings legit because Europeans have not had the best relationship in fairly representing history from Africa. Section Two: Investigation Some say that Jazz is uniquely American and should be considered as America’s classical music in many different realms. Taylor would say that jazz is a musical language(Taylor). It is a language that expresses the overall belief system of African Americans in America. It tells the story to people nations of other decent who do not understand and may wish to become passionate about it. As classical music, Jazz has many forms including its standards that are so simple they become complex therefore opening up an entire new door for expression in the improvisational community. And even though jazz has supported that ideals of music for over one hundred years, it is still excellent enough to stand out wherever it may be. All in regards to its deep African roots. 6 Jazz is one of the most difficult art forms of music. Its use of many different rhythms and syncopation that causes it to stand out so definitely. While playing, and improvising upon jazz music it is one style that should be taken slowly and thought about precisely in order to match the true sound of its being (Murphy). The thought of improvising about jazz is important because it tells the stories of African-American struggles and roots. It does so by expanding on the rawness of events such as slavery and an assortment of inequalities by the color of skin. In research, it is found that Billy Taylor would describe jazz as America’s “indigenous classical music” (Taylor). Jazz is definitely one of the music genre that creates a proper image of the time. Its sound is developed from a very historic and cultural background, and through understanding it, players are able to give it more meaning and truly define their own identity through use of music. This paper will discuss the historical and musicology development of jazz to what it has become today, in regards to its deep African roots in order to prove that jazz is not strictly American. Even though it is difficult to categorize a specific type of music to one continent as huge as Africa, there are some general suggestions in African music that really displease strong culture dating nearly three hundred to four hundred years back. He goes back to sleep three in the New World(Floyd). Samuel Floyd Junior on the power of black music discusses how Africans used the physical aspects of dancing drumming and song to connect to spiritual worlds which existed in most traditional communities as a very important part of the African lifestyle. This spiritual connection swayed away from western music in the way that it was functional to the field songs that were used by workers to ease the pain and calm the nerves down as well as it served for a guide to young children about life skills into an adulthood. The use of song and dance in adulthood was used to express the teaching of life lessons and also it taught different 7 sex positions. Different behaviors in a variety lives with different lyrics of songs combined with a mixture of poly rhythmic tones created an understanding of community values in Africa. The use of communication through dance was very important in Africa because it showed the survival skills that one could have. If an individual was able to use an instrument to play very straight rhythms and balance them against different percussion pieces he then created a resonance within the ear to create the traditional African sound. By combining both vocal and instrumental skills it was very helpful in developing melodic tones across the region’s air. In 1619 one of the first English colonies in North America to acquire slaves was West Virginia. And even after 1807 when the United States and Great Britain outlawed slave trade this became profitable because the new industry heads underlining continued until the 1860’s. The years which are marked by the Civil War. One big permitting factor during this time was the use of slave instrumentation in the South. At most times instruments, such as violin and violas as well as different homemade instruments such as banjos and small drum pieces were custom on plantations. And the slaves playing these instruments became more useful, because slave-owners sought entertainment the slaves from Africa begin to express how they really felt through their music to the slave-owners and this created a transportation from Africa into North America slave owners line how loud instruments such as different when pipes and drums could be used to create communication across the slaves. This eventually led to the ban of all the music in the middle of the 18th century across North America except for the developed French Louisiana and this important later in the uprising of jazz in New Orleans. This left no opportunity to make instruments so slaves took upon themselves to communicate across the area by using their voice and body. 8 The soulful, as we know it today, yelling across the field of slave songs came from the feelings of Africans attempting to imitate their musical desires they once had before. Unknowingly slaves used major scales and harmonic minor resonance in order to communicate on the plantations. This was influenced by the Europeans and Africans combination of slavery. The classical music training coming from Europeans musicians. Other influences of sounds develop from Cuban slaves being brought into Africa. During this time slaves were brought in order to make slave ownership more profitable across the New World. Cuban melodies were then combined with African drums in order to create new sound. A vocal quality of call-andresponse in voice to create measure pickups in the development of sliding into notes. This is later imitated by instruments through jazz in America where different sets of slaves and immigrants combined to create a new sound. Another form of combination and imitation that is later emulated doing jazz instruments and vocals is the use of the ring ritual. Europeans which role was very key in the life of slaves in Africa. European practices were synchronizing with the traditional performance of African dance in the New World which later helped to carry out poly rhythms and syncopation. As it relates to the voice the development of sound been created is voiced by different tremolos grunts mums and shouts. In jazz music, it is important to look at the development of jazz the arrangement of slaves that came in during heavy trade. When Africans first came into the Americas as slaves they brought what they had with them. Songs, memories and experiences that could not be stripped away from them. These mere belongings were the only for them to express their culture in a new land which was America. But it is also important to note that Africans were not the only slaves and emigrants that brought similar belongings with them to the Americas. As a variety Scotch, 9 German, and English emigrants came into the new land, they sought entertainment in their spare time so they would learn songs from the African culture that they could incorporate with the already standing cultural identified instruments and music. Taylor would describe them as a “transplanted people” who yet again such as the Africans had the desire to express themselves. But they could not do so with words so they developed their expression through music. But yet again this caused an upset to settlers who thought that the music would gain control of politics. And to a certain degree they were correct. Therefore, once again field songs and slave music had to be reformed again, but this time it would consist of German, Scotch and English influence (Taylor). This is how jazz has become a part of such a rich cultural identity that stems from African roots. It is because as African slaves were combined with different emigrant influences across their own land and branching into the New World in the nineteenth century, the slaves were forced to communicate with each other. It could not always be done so through verbal language so they tool of music was used to express an overall desire for freedom. It is argued that jazz is strictly American because a lot of the major development happened after a consistent portion of slaves were displaced into the Americas, but the roots of their cultural traveled with them and so did their experiences with other emigrants. The reason there is Latin-jazz is due to the fact that African slaves came in contact with the Cuban slaves seeking freedom. The reason there is jazz that sounds like classical music is due to the fact that African slaves came in contact with the European musicians who taught them how to play different instruments through standard form. The reason there is jazz that sounds like country western music is due to the fact that African slaves came in contact with the settlers from West who forced the slaves to learn 10 specific songs as a way for their entertainment. Jazz has been restructured from many different forms of music and it roots will always live strong. Music does not change. Section Three: Reflection In an investigation, such as this it was important to find possible text that supported both the claim and the counter claim. With such a dense topic as such pulling out and planning what should be discussed is important to do. A historian should be careful to depict what is important and what could potentially be withheld. In the nature of this paper, more modern information could be withheld as well as information going into to detail about the development of each style of jazz could be saved for another paper. Even though it is important and not to be forgotten in context of supporting a dense strong argument information as such should be excluded. It could potentially be referenced in an annotated bibliography. Also, while doing this assignment, it is important to note that a historian may face challenges finding authentic primary sources of information because so much of African history has been lost due to lack of documentation in its earlier periods of reign. Secondary sources are easier to find and quote but it is important to test the credibility of them with sources that support opposing claims. This would assure that the information present is accurate on both ends of the argument. By balancing information that support opposing arguments it is also less likely that a source may be biased in its statements. This goes in correlation with finding the origins of authors and producers, the value of the information as well as defining the true purpose that each and every source was developed. 11 Bibliography Bowman, Wayne. “Philosophy, Criticism, and Music Education: Some Tentative Steps down a Less-Travelled Road.” Bulletin of the Council for Research in Music Education no. 114 (Fall, 1992): 1-19. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40318912 (accessed January 18, 2018) Burns, Ken. Jazz- A Film by Ken Burns. Produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. DVD Disc 1, PBS Home Video, 2001. Floyd, Samuel A., Jr. The Power of Black Music: Interpreting its History from African to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. Gushee, Lawrence. “The Nineteenth-Century Origins of Jazz.” Black Music Research Journal 22, Supplement: Best of BMRJ (2002): 151-174. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1519947 (accessed February 15, 2018). Ken Burns. (2018, March 18). Retrieved November 22, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Burns Murphy, John P. “Jazz Improvisation: The Joy of Influence.” The Black Perspective in Music 18, no. 1/2 (1990): 7-19. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1214855 (accessed February 24, 2018). Palmer, Robert. Deep Blues: A Musical and Cultural History, from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago’s South side to the World. New York: Penguin Books, 1982. Siegenfeld, B. (2014). If Jazz Dance, Then Jazz Music! doi:10.5744/florida/9780813049298.003.0004 . Jazz Dance, 17-23. Taylor, B. (2014). E history and development of jazz piano : A new perspective for educators. Boston, MA: University of Massachuse s Amherst. doi:10.3897/bdj.3.e4735.figure3a Taylor, Billy. “Jazz.” The Musical Quarterly 68, no. 2 (April 1982): 21-25. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/742030 (accessed February 12, 2018).