Chapter Study Outline

  1. Jazz and Ethnicity What kind of music is jazz? Congressional resolution of 1987 claims it is art yet also a (public) people's music; indigenous American music, yet global; ethnically unifying, yet African American.
    1. Three classifications of jazz:
      1. Art form: jazz viewed as heart of institutional America played by skillfully trained musicians.
      2. Popular music: jazz viewed as a commodity partly dependent on taste.
      3. Folk music: although urban, jazz stems from African American folk traditions.
    2. Jazz is an African American music: ethnic vs. racial distinctions.
      1. But jazz musicians may be black or white or any other ethnicity.
      2. African American: not a race (genetically determined physical characteristics) but rather an ethnic group (cultural).
      3. As such, the ethnic features of this music (unlike racial features) can be learned and shared.
      4. African American musical principles include polyrhythm, call and response, blue notes, and timbre variation: these are not unique to jazz, but their interaction within the genre is highly specific to it.
  2. Folk Traditions
    1. Serve to establish a persistent musical identity.
    2. Helped create the hybrid nature of American culture.
    3. Various Genres
      1. Ballads: local history through long songs; often include braggadocio.
      2. Work songs: accompanied manual labor.
      3. Field hollers: unaccompanied, rhythmically loose, designed to accompany farm labor.
      4. Spirituals: call and response with religious poetry. Two types: polished Fisk Jubilee singers style and orally transmitted Pentecostal church singing. By 1920s, gospel music had developed. Spirituals are highly interactional, which strongly influenced jazz musicians.
    4. "The Buzzard Lope"
      1. From the relatively isolated Georgia Sea Islands (Gullah culture)
      2. In the 1920s a bridge was built to the mainland. Lydia Parrish researched the music and wrote a book (1942); Alan Lomax and Zora Neale Hurston visited and later recorded this music (1935).
      3. "Buzzard Lope" is a spiritual dance representing buzzards devouring slave bodies left in the fields.
      4. Prominent displays of call and response, polyrhythmic background, and syncopation.
  3. Blues
    1. Three-line (AAB) stanza distinguishes it from other forms, which usually were structured with two or four lines. Blues also has a distinctive chord progression.
    2. Unlike the ballad, the blues was personal, which reflected the cultural shift from slave community to individualism and the former slave's engagement with freedom.
    3. Country Blues
      1. Combination of folk elements (e.g., field holler) and new technology (wide availability of the guitar).
      2. Performed by solitary male musicians accompanying themselves on guitar in the American South; loosely based around blues form.
    4. Vaudeville (Classic) Blues
      1. When blues crossed over into pop music, jazz musicians became involved. For example, Gertrude Pritchett ("Ma" Rainey, 1886-1939) heard blues in St. Louis and transformed it into a theatrical form for the black vaudeville circuit during the 1910s and 1920s, featuring a female singer and small band.
      2. Blues became more codified (12-bar stanzas, written harmony), more closely resembling the basic blues form known and practiced today. Jazz musicians also played in these bands.
      3. W. C. Handy: cornet player who heard the blues in Mississippi. He started writing and publishing blues for dance ensembles, and a number of them became hits.
      4. First audiences for recordings were white, but when Perry Bradford convinced OKeh Records to record Mamie Smith singing "Crazy Blues," audience composition changed.
        1. The growing northeastern urban African American population wanted music that they could relate to, and "race records" were born.
        2. Companies owned by whites did not provide royalties to black singers; they were pressured into giving up ownership of their songs.
    5. Bessie Smith (1894-1937)
      1. Most popular classic blues singer; recorded well.
      2. Born in Tennessee, she started as a stage professional on the Theatre Owners Booking Association (TOBA) vaudeville circuit.
      3. First recordings in 1923; jazz musicians learned to accompany her phrasing and copy her tone.
      4. Her career peaked in 1929. In the same year, she starred in the short film St. Louis Blues. The Depression curtailed her earnings. She tried performing swing but was not a success.
      5. "Reckless Blues"
        1. Louis Armstrong on trumpet
        2. Two great artists in call and response. Uses two kinds of mutes.
        3. Not one of Bessie Smith's favorite recordings.
  4. Popular Music
    1. Minstrelsy
      1. In contrast to playing for whites, blacks found they could make more money highlighting their blackness.
      2. Because racism made it difficult for black performers to succeed, white performers took on black styles in an exaggerated fashion, performing music and comedy using banjo and bones.
      3. In 1843 in New York, the Virginia Minstrels put on a show in blackface that purported to depict plantation slave culture. It was wildly popular.
      4. Racist exaggerations in appearance and behavior were typical.
      5. White audiences enjoyed these depictions.
      6. Black Performers
        1. After emancipation, black performers started to perform in minstrelsy, accepting the stereotypes of the genre: Billy Kersands, James Bland.
        2. Although minstrelsy was on its last legs by the time jazz came along, the racial stereotypes persisted in vaudeville, film (The Jazz Singer), and radio (Amos and Andy).
        3. Although most jazz musicians were not entertainers and therefore avoided perpetuating minstrel stereotypes, musicians who acted in film, such as Louis Armstrong, were compelled to play into these stereotypes.
    2. Dance Music
      1. Early slave musicians used their music for dance; for example, southern itinerant black The Roots of Jazz | 11 fiddlers or, rarely, early black bandleaders such as Frank Johnson.
      2. Nineteenth-century musicians were hired as servants.
        1. The Dancing Craze
          1. Late nineteenth century: respectable people danced formal elaborate dances such as the quadrille, the lancer, or the waltz.
          2. In the early part of the twentieth century, there was a major shift: dancing began to take place in restaurants and cabarets. These "animal dances" were less inhibited and more physical.
        2. The Castles and James Reese Europe (1881-1919)
          1. African American-derived dances became a fad for white America (e.g., "The Charleston") and were often introduced by white "experts" such as Irene and Vernon Castle, who toned down these dances for their white audience.
          2. The music was not toned down and was often ragtime.
          3. World War I; Europe formed the 369th infantry band Hellfighters. Their music anticipates jazz style and interaction in some ways.
          4. Europe's legacy left behind two types of dance bands: small and inexpensive, (suited for jazz) and the large dance orchestra (e.g., Will Marion Cook's Southern Syncopated Orchestra and Tim Brymm's Black Devil Orchestra). Both types show up in later jazz.
  5. Art Music
    1. Learning music theory and notation was important to aspiring African American musicians.
    2. Through public education, blacks learned classical music (e.g., Joseph Douglass, Sisserietta Jones, the "black Patti"), but whites would not listen to them and the black community was too poor to support them.
    3. Classically trained blacks went to jazz to make a living, thus extending their classical technique and changing the standards, performance, craft, and musical ambition in jazz.
    4. Brass Bands
      1. Originally from England, they became the "people's" orchestra.
      2. John Philip Sousa (1854-1932). Took over the U.S. Marine band and made it into a topnotch, world-famous concert ensemble.
      3. Most every town had a brass band made up of local townsfolk to play at parades and dances.
        1. Brass Bands and Jazz
          1. African Americans formed their own brass bands, offering insurance and brass-led burials for its members. They played dances with boiled-down versions including violin, cornet, trombone, clarinet, and drum set. Usually in duple meter 24 or 68, many marches were adapted for social dancing.
          2. The brass band's primary contribution to jazz lay in its formal compositional structure, which was made up of a succession of distinctive 16-bar strains, each of which was usually repeated.
          3. The third strain (known as the trio) contrasts with the other strains. It introduces a new key, is often twice |as long as other strains, and may be introduced by a short passage.
  6. Ragtime
    1. Like jazz, ragtime embodied the mix of African American and white art, popular, and folk musics.
    2. The name comes from "ragged time." During the Civil War it was mostly played on the banjo. Later it was played on the piano, where the left hand kept a steady two-beat rhythm between bass notes and chords while the right hand created contrasting rhythms.
    3. Scott Joplin (1868-1917)
      1. Improvised piano ragtime was toned down and translated into sheet music starting in 1897. It was wildly popular and featured many composers. Scott Joplin was the best known.
      2. Born in East Texas, Joplin believed in racial uplift, studied with a local German piano teacher, turned pro, and toured along the Mississippi River. In 1893 he performed at the Chicago World's Fair.
      3. In 1894 he settled in Sidelia, Missouri, where he led a black marching band and studied composition. In 1899 he wrote "Maple Leaf Rag" and-again convention for African American composers of the period-insisted on royalties instead of a flat fee for the piece. His strategy paid off well.
      4. He moved to St. Louis and then New York, publishing many rags, a ballet, and two operas. In 1903 he published "The Entertainer," which was rekindled in the 1970 film The Sting. Joplin died in 1917 of syphilis just as recordings started to take over from sheet music as the preferred means of distribution.
      5. Though many other fine pianists played ragtime, few of them recorded, so much of this vast repertoire has been lost.
    4. Wilbur Sweatman (1882-1961) and Transition
      1. Wilbur Sweatman represents the new generation of musicians, who used recordings rather than sheet music to transmit and transform their music. A clarinet player in show business, he became well known around 1910.
      2. Sweatman was a "secondary ragtime" composer. "Down Home Rag" (1911) provides an example of this style in which his cross-rhythm places three-note melodic figures against the underlying duple rhythm. This approach was also known as "novelty ragtime."
      3. In 1916 he made his first recordings, which were bluesy, improvisatory, and recorded on soon-to-be-outmoded technology. By this time, recording was taking over from the publication of sheet music, marking a readiness for musical change.
    5. Even though this was a period of intense racism, black musicians provided not only music that offered a new sense of cultural identity but also dance music for whites.
    6. Jazz as we know it started in New Orleans, as ragtime, blues, march music, and social dance combined.

Chapter 3 Jukebox