A Century of Satchmo Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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America is a culturally rich and diverse nation. It has a dynamic history marked by a constantly changing society. The noticeable transformation of the peoples way of life in each era is brought forth by important historical events. One of the biggest attestations of Americas cultural richness, dynamism and democracy is its music. Music is a language. It is history encapsulating the sentiments of a people as a group, and most especially, it is an evidence of civilization.

Just as the fiftys bebop signifies post-war adjustments and the struggle to regain the previous normalcy and peace, the sixties hippies was the youths assertion of their voice, their rebellion against consumerism and tumultuous international relations (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). By observing the different trends in American music, one can also see the various phases of its history, as well as the people who lived in it. This paper looks at Jazz music and the influences it has done on American culture.

It will also examine the contributions of some artists in this area. Historical Background Present day cyber technology is the latest Cultural Revolution. Abolished spatial borders resulted to widespread cultural diffusion including diverse musical influences. Yet before this era, Americas music was solely fashioned by its people. The melting pot or assimilation process made the different ethnicities in America Americanized. Thus, the reels, waltz and polkas popular during the 19th century, actually were a contribution of the immigrants from Europe.

Shortly, after the Civil War that liberated the slaves, the Black people began their long and uphill influence through their musical styles. Who will ever forget the energetic jazz and blues of Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong that were very popular during the Civil Rights movement among both whites and blacks? Today, black or other form of music still retains its individuality but cannot anymore be distinguished as anything but American. (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). Americas new breed of musical artists belongs to different ethnicities and races, an effect of the ever-changing population demography.

Perhaps, due to the gradual weakening of earlier racial stereotypes, more and more people are enjoying music of various ethnical backgrounds. Famous performers, celebrities even, may be classified, as Latinos, Blacks, Asians, or Caucasian/Whites and their racial backgrounds do not affect their chances of making a big MTV or billboards countdown hit. Among the Latinos are Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera and Ricky Martin. They are well known for their pop music that oftentimes carries with it a dash of Latin flavor.

The Fifty Cents, Black Eyed Peas, Nelly, Craig David, and Beyounce Knowles are some of the famous blacks. They are in the front line of rap music, hip-hop, rhythm and blues, and soul, just like their forefathers. Also a notable number of Europeans, Native Americans or Asians descent are expressing their roots through their music. (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). Current Trends Popular music between majority and minority groups are almost similar. Depending on ones taste, preferred genres are rock, pop, rhythm and blues, jazz, soul, hip-hop, crunk, reggae, ska, ballads, power ballads, and many more.

These are the currents trends that make the music industry a multi-billion one. The acceptance of the different ethnicities and races in the music world even fuelled consumerism that recording companies are ceaselessly taking advantaged of. The presence of cable television and the Internet was a bigger boom for the industry, since music of different origins can now be accessed instantaneously in the four corners of the world. (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). Current trends steer towards the understanding and appreciation of different cultures.

Consumerism will also continue to be the driving force for individuals to search for better quality of life. Hence, for the succeeding years there will be no sign of U. S. immigration finally leveling off. Two decades from now, people all over the world will continue to pursue their American dreams, making the States an even more culturally diverse place. By that time, several states will no longer have a clear definition of minority and majority. Even music will be diverse. Musical styles from all over the world will be integrated together to form the melodic statement fitting for that age.

I can only imagine that by year 2025, Americans will be grooving to the beat of African drums with the undulating vocals of Indian yodelling and poignant Scottish bagpipes. (Wikipedia contributors, 2006). The Entertainer by Scott Joplin Meanwhile, The Entertainer was one of the best known compositions Scott Joplin made in his entire lifetime. It was written during those times when numerous unfortunate realities happened during Joplins time. It was a time when art was received less and the U. S.

s attitudes about jazz from the current neo-conservative embrace of the early masters to the general understanding of bebop in the 1940s and 1950s as a sort of Bohemian celebration of alienation, revealed an ambivalence that has not served personal and musical histories and their attendant documents well (Bartlett, 1997). Joplins stature as a popular stature reduced to a level of disparity and it was only after his death that ragtime revivals became a recent popularity. The Entertainer appeared in the 1974 Academy Award-winning motion picture The Sting.

This was the time when the piece was often re-recorded to further recollection, education and memory (Bartlett, 1997). The Entertainer was said to be one among those ragtime music in the context of African-American music considering that Scott Joplin was an African-American. It was during this period, 1868 1917 that rapid dissemination of new musical style, the term rag was overused and misapplied to pertain to African-American style of music. There were many pieces from this period using the word rag in their title to identify such pieces with the classic rag style called blues compositions.

Then, this later evolved into ragtime compositions that included vocal works and band arrangements, which later became piano music (Gioia, 1997). It was during this period that player pianos became increasingly popular among the American households which indeed resulted in the popularity of mechanical player pianos that met the increasing demand for ragtime music in the early years of the 20th century. It was Scott Joplin who became the prominent figure in promoting and initiating ragtime music. He proved to be an important catalyst in bringing the work of local composers to the attention of the broader public (Gioia, 1997).

Joplin was known for his structural elegance in his compositions, his melodic inventiveness, or his unflagging commitment to artistry (Gioia, 1997). Moreover, he was responsible for making jazz virtually a contemporary genre and style of creative human expression expressing the liberality of his mind and his tolerance for change. As a result of such promotion of music, the dynamic interaction between cultures, resulted in the fusion of African, American and European cultures, promoted the composition, improvisation, spontaneity and deliberation of the popular ragtime music for all time.

Louis Armstrong- Greatest Jazz player Louis Armstrong, known for his jazz music, was born on August 4, 1901, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the allegedly original land of jazz music (Wikipedia contributors 2006a). His family was very poor, and as an infant, his father abandoned them. Being exposed to harsh environment, he was arrested several times for minor delinquencies. His last arrest was nonetheless a blessing since he learned how to play the cornet from the two jail wardens, who were also amateur musicians.

As a young man, Armstrong enjoyed listening to the works of experienced musicians and even followed the New Orleanss brass band parades. Soon, he himself was playing in the brass bands and riverboats of New Orleans deriving his musical influence from older artists such as Bunk Johnson, Buddy Petit and Joe King Oliver. The latter had the most impact in his life. Besides acting as both a father figure and a mentor to him, King Oliver gave him a break to play the second cornet of his Creole Jazz Band in Chicago.

This step helped launch Louis Armstrongs career in the national scene (Wikipedia contributors 2006a). Attenberry (2001) commended Armstrong because amid great cultural changes and upheaval, he never lost himself. The Honing of his Golden Era During the centennial birthday celebration of Louis Armstrong, countless of fans and jazz enthusiasts expressed their admiration for the late artist. Nicknamed as Satchmo and Pops, many labeled him as the greatest jazz performer in history, someone who set the standards for solo jazz and took scant singing to a grand level.

For music history professor, Phillip D. Atteberry (2001), Louis is the greatest figure in jazz because his experiences transcend music. Art has complex characteristics. It is identified with many concepts: historical periods, styles and fields or areas of discipline such as painting, sculpture, music, theatre, etc. Getting the most from art entails experience and understanding about culture and histories of varying periods while appreciating how ones perception, whether discriminating or non-discriminating.

Knowing what to see and what to hear or observe in a poem, painting, play, musical composition, is a step ahead of knowing what the truth reveals us behind cultures and history.


Attenbery, P. D. Lous Armstrong: A Century of Satchmo. 2001. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2006 at: http://www. pitt. edu/~atteberr/jazz/articles/centuryofsatch. html Bartlett, Andrew. King of Ragtime: Scott Joplin and His Era. Find Articles. 1997. Retrieved Oct. 28, 2006 at:

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