Sociology

Social Acceptance and its Impact on Jazz



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Jazz is a form of expression that is purely American, particularly African American in origin. It is a form of musical expression that is more sophisticated than the folk tunes and blues tunes that preceded it, since many jazz musicians were formally trained musicians before they began to express themselves through the characteristic rhythm structures and improvisational formats of jazz.

The creoles, who prided themselves on their European training and segregated lifestyle, battled with the majority African Americans in Louisiana and the rest of the South, which is considered to be the birthplace of jazz. Jazz had it's beginnings with the adaptations of formalized European musical forms, especially French and Spanish songs and dances, that were performed by the Creoles, who were more accepted and financially rewarded as performance musicians. The poorer and more self taught, yet no less competent African American musicians incorporated more rhythmic African, gospel, folk, blues, and American folk elements. Jazz was considered a complete art form when Jelly Roll Morton became regarded as the first significant Jazz musician who was aided by recording technology in transitioning Jazz to the national stage.

Social acceptance of Jazz, in terms of White Americans acceptance of Jazz began in the South, particularly in Louisiana, where the traditional sound of formalized, syncopated adaptations of European structures began to evolve from the "Dixieland" genre into the more sophisticated, integrated, and comprehensive music of the 1930's and 1940's. African, Afro Caribbean, and African American rhythm structures and the famous "two bar break", which led to the improvisational solo that is characteristic of American Jazz today, was developed. The virtuosity and sophistication of Jazz musicians, who continued to bring both extensive formal and informal training and knowledge about music, expanded and developed.

There was great controversy, as segregation, with it's cultural and even religious negative attitudes toward African American culture, caused Whites to resort to "slumming" in order to hear the great jazz music of the era. With the growing popularity of Jazz, segregated venues, which were White owned, but off limits to any Black Americans who were not performing, were founded. Jazz was incorporated into film and theatrical productions, radio broadcasts, and other venues until it became a part of the mainstream in American arts.

But as Jazz became a national treasure, adopted incorporated into the White American and European cultures, Jazz became an entity that just had to be studied, codified, classified, and over intellectualized until it is now considered to be a world treasure that is easily taught and learned. While it is played all over the world, and is played by everyone from self taught medical doctors to classroom taught high school students, Jazz is now a mainstream form of music. In fact, it is a form of music that is highly attractive to the intellectual and cultural elites of Europe as well as America.

Having circled, with it's African, gospel, and other enhancements, back to Europe, the social acceptance of Jazz has had a strong recursive relationship with European music, often being incorporated into most performance venues, with as much popularity and respect as traditional and modern forms of European music.

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