Beads on a String (Special Edition): Americas Racially Intertwined Biographical History

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Women began playing instruments in jazz in the early s, drawing particular recognition on piano. When male jazz musicians were drafted during World War II, many all-female bands replaced them. Women were members of the big bands of Woody Herman and Gerald Wilson. Beginning in the s, many women jazz instrumentalists were prominent, some sustaining long careers.

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Some of the most distinctive improvisers, composers, and bandleaders in jazz have been women. Jazz originated in the lateth to earlyth century as interpretations of American and European classical music entwined with African and slave folk songs and the influences of West African culture. By the 18th century, slaves in the New Orleans area gathered socially at a special market, in an area which later became known as Congo Square, famous for its African dances.

By , the Atlantic slave trade had brought nearly , Africans to North America. An account says that they were making strange music Creole on an equally strange variety of 'instruments'—washboards, washtubs, jugs, boxes beaten with sticks or bones and a drum made by stretching skin over a flour-barrel. Robert Palmer said of percussive slave music:. Usually such music was associated with annual festivals, when the year's crop was harvested and several days were set aside for celebration. As late as , a traveler in North Carolina saw dancers dressed in costumes that included horned headdresses and cow tails and heard music provided by a sheepskin-covered "gumbo box", apparently a frame drum; triangles and jawbones furnished the auxiliary percussion.

There are quite a few [accounts] from the southeastern states and Louisiana dating from the period — Some of the earliest [Mississippi] Delta settlers came from the vicinity of New Orleans, where drumming was never actively discouraged for very long and homemade drums were used to accompany public dancing until the outbreak of the Civil War. Another influence came from the harmonic style of hymns of the church, which black slaves had learned and incorporated into their own music as spirituals. However, as Gerhard Kubik points out, whereas the spirituals are homophonic , rural blues and early jazz "was largely based on concepts of heterophony.

During the early 19th century an increasing number of black musicians learned to play European instruments, particularly the violin, which they used to parody European dance music in their own cakewalk dances. In turn, European-American minstrel show performers in blackface popularized the music internationally, combining syncopation with European harmonic accompaniment. In the mids the white New Orleans composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk adapted slave rhythms and melodies from Cuba and other Caribbean islands into piano salon music.

The Black Codes outlawed drumming by slaves, which meant that African drumming traditions were not preserved in North America, unlike in Cuba, Haiti, and elsewhere in the Caribbean. African-based rhythmic patterns were retained in the United States in large part through "body rhythms" such as stomping, clapping, and patting juba dancing. In the opinion of jazz historian Ernest Borneman , what preceded New Orleans jazz before was "Afro-Latin music", similar to what was played in the Caribbean at the time.

Tresillo shown below is the most basic and most prevalent duple-pulse rhythmic cell in sub-Saharan African music traditions and the music of the African Diaspora. Tresillo is heard prominently in New Orleans second line music and in other forms of popular music from that city from the turn of the 20th century to present. In the post-Civil War period after , African Americans were able to obtain surplus military bass drums, snare drums and fifes, and an original African-American drum and fife music emerged, featuring tresillo and related syncopated rhythmic figures.

African-American music began incorporating Afro-Cuban rhythmic motifs in the 19th century when the habanera Cuban contradanza gained international popularity. John Storm Roberts states that the musical genre habanera "reached the U. Habaneras were widely available as sheet music and were the first written music which was rhythmically based on an African motif New Orleans native Louis Moreau Gottschalk 's piano piece "Ojos Criollos Danse Cubaine " was influenced by the composer's studies in Cuba: the habanera rhythm is clearly heard in the left hand.

Comparing the music of New Orleans with the music of Cuba, Wynton Marsalis observes that tresillo is the New Orleans "clave", a Spanish word meaning "code" or "key", as in the key to a puzzle, or mystery.

Beads on a String (Special Edition): America's Racially Intertwined Biographical History

Jelly Roll Morton called the rhythmic figure the Spanish tinge and considered it an essential ingredient of jazz. The abolition of slavery in led to new opportunities for the education of freed African Americans. Although strict segregation limited employment opportunities for most blacks, many were able to find work in entertainment.

Black musicians were able to provide entertainment in dances, minstrel shows , and in vaudeville , during which time many marching bands were formed. Black pianists played in bars, clubs, and brothels, as ragtime developed. Ragtime appeared as sheet music, popularized by African-American musicians such as the entertainer Ernest Hogan , whose hit songs appeared in Two years later, Vess Ossman recorded a medley of these songs as a banjo solo known as "Rag Time Medley".

Classically trained pianist Scott Joplin produced his " Original Rags " in and, in , had an international hit with " Maple Leaf Rag ", a multi- strain ragtime march with four parts that feature recurring themes and a bass line with copious seventh chords. Its structure was the basis for many other rags, and the syncopations in the right hand, especially in the transition between the first and second strain, were novel at the time. African-based rhythmic patterns such as tresillo and its variants, the habanera rhythm and cinquillo , are heard in the ragtime compositions of Joplin and Turpin.

Joplin's "Solace" is generally considered to be in the habanera genre: [62] [63] both of the pianist's hands play in a syncopated fashion, completely abandoning any sense of a march rhythm.

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Blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre, [66] which originated in African-American communities of primarily the Deep South of the United States at the end of the 19th century from their spirituals , work songs , field hollers , shouts and chants and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The African use of pentatonic scales contributed to the development of blue notes in blues and jazz. Many of the rural blues of the Deep South are stylistically an extension and merger of basically two broad accompanied song-style traditions in the west central Sudanic belt:.

Handy became interested folk blues of the Deep South while traveling through the Mississippi Delta. In this folk blues form, the singer would improvise freely within a limited melodic range, sounding like a field holler, and the guitar accompaniment was slapped rather than strummed, like a small drum which responded in syncopated accents, functioning as another "voice". The primitive southern Negro, as he sang, was sure to bear down on the third and seventh tone of the scale, slurring between major and minor.

Whether in the cotton field of the Delta or on the Levee up St. Louis way, it was always the same. Till then, however, I had never heard this slur used by a more sophisticated Negro, or by any white man. I tried to convey this effect The publication of his " Memphis Blues " sheet music in introduced the bar blues to the world although Gunther Schuller argues that it is not really a blues, but "more like a cakewalk" [72].

This composition, as well as his later " St. Louis Blues " and others, included the habanera rhythm, [73] and would become jazz standards. Handy's music career began in the pre-jazz era and contributed to the codification of jazz through the publication of some of the first jazz sheet music. The music of New Orleans had a profound effect on the creation of early jazz.

go here In New Orleans, slaves could practice elements of their culture such as voodoo and playing drums. The instruments used by marching bands and dance bands became the instruments of jazz: brass, drums, and reeds tuned in the European tone scale. Small bands contained a combination of self-taught and formally educated musicians, many from the funeral procession tradition. These bands traveled in black communities in the deep south.

Beginning in , Creole and African-American musicians played in vaudeville shows which carried jazz to cities in the northern and western parts of the U. In New Orleans, a white bandleader named Papa Jack Laine integrated blacks and whites in his marching band. He was known as "the father of white jazz" because of the many top players he employed, such as George Brunies , Sharkey Bonano , and future members of the Original Dixieland Jass Band.

During the early s, jazz was mostly performed in African-American and mulatto communities due to segregation laws. Storyville brought jazz to a wider audience through tourists who visited the port city of New Orleans.


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Louis Armstrong started his career in Storyville [78] and found success in Chicago. Storyville was shut down by the U. Cornetist Buddy Bolden played in New Orleans from to No recordings by him exist. His band is credited with creating the big four: the first syncopated bass drum pattern to deviate from the standard on-the-beat march.

Beginning in , he toured with vaudeville shows to southern cities, Chicago, and New York City. In , he composed " Jelly Roll Blues ", which became the first jazz arrangement in print when it was published in In introduced more musicians to the New Orleans style. In fact, if you can't manage to put tinges of Spanish in your tunes, you will never be able to get the right seasoning, I call it, for jazz. An excerpt of "New Orleans Blues" is shown below. In the excerpt, the left hand plays the tresillo rhythm, while the right hand plays variations on cinquillo.

Morton was a crucial innovator in the evolution from the early jazz form known as ragtime to jazz piano , and could perform pieces in either style; in , Morton made a series of recordings for the Library of Congress in which he demonstrated the difference between the two styles. Morton's solos, however, were still close to ragtime, and were not merely improvisations over chord changes as in later jazz, but his use of the blues was of equal importance.

Morton loosened ragtime's rigid rhythmic feeling, decreasing its embellishments and employing a swing feeling.


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An oft quoted definition of swing by Louis Armstrong is: "if you don't feel it, you'll never know it. Swing defies analysis; claims to its presence may inspire arguments. This aspect of swing is far more prevalent in African-American music than in Afro-Caribbean music. One aspect of swing, which is heard in more rhythmically complex Diaspora musics, places strokes in-between the triple and duple-pulse "grids". New Orleans brass bands are a lasting influence, contributing horn players to the world of professional jazz with the distinct sound of the city whilst helping black children escape poverty.

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Like Jelly Roll Morton, Armstrong is also credited with the abandonment of ragtime's stiffness in favor of swung notes. Armstrong, perhaps more than any other musician, codified the rhythmic technique of swing in jazz and broadened the jazz solo vocabulary.

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