Term Paper: Charlie Parker Music

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[. . .] These houses also normally employed a solo piano player who was called "Professor" by the girls. Jelly Roll Morton had also taken up employment as a professor and that had resulted in his being kicked out from his family. The importance of New Orleans as the center for Jazz ended when Storyville was closed down by the Navy. But, by then the spread of Jazz had started and gradually it became America's Classical Music, and finally made the long trip to Carnegie Hall. (The origins of Jazz)

While the title of creator of Jazz was claimed by Jerry Roll Morton, the different forms have their own claimants of creators. Jazz in its orchestrated form has three creator claimants - Art Hickman, Ferde Grofe and Paul Whiteman. Ferde Grofe was the first to orchestrate "Rhapsody in Blue." It is claimed that Hickman's Orchestra was the first to use saxophones and this was supposed to be done by Grofe and Grofe did not succeed. In the meantime, Whiteman was available in the area where this was to be carried out - San Francisco's Barbary Coast. He then discovered Jazz. He says that he liked the spontaneity of the form, the enthusiasm built within the form the great rhythm, and the general nature of being spiritually uplifting. He however felt that it did not enough polish to be presentable at all. (The King of Jazz)

So, he changed the form of the music and allowed it to play popular music through a dance orchestra, and using Jazz soloists in the music. This he felt allowed the music to have the required form and identity. Then, Whiteman hired Grofe and Grofe knew the methods of both orchestration and popular forms. This made the arrangements for writing the Jazz proper. Here it is important to note that this ensured the merger of Jazz with classical music as Whitman had been trained in classical music, and he had played the violin and viola in the Denver symphony Orchestra. The point to be noted is that it was Whiteman who came up with the ideas and gave them to Grofe for execution. This resulted in tremendous success for Whiteman. The first recording then prepared was called "Whispering" in 1920 and these recording sold 2 million copies and there were then only two million phonographs in the country. (The King of Jazz)

Then came "Three O'clock in the Morning," and this was an even greater hit. Whiteman became extremely wealthy with 52 Whiteman bands with in the country, Europe and Mexico. This was probably the first application of the concept of franchising. He was so successful that he could demand and collect large sums of money for a personal appearance with the orchestra, but still there is a controversy about his being called the King of Jazz. Is it because Whiteman was white? (The King of Jazz)

Other similar forms of music:

One of the forms of music that was prevalent among the Africans that would ultimately become Jazz is seen in the history of the introduction of the Africans to the United States through slavery. This form of music is called slave music. This came with the Africans who came mainly from Western Africa into Jamestown, VA in 1619. When these slaves came, they brought with them their own culture from Africa and this included their own music. The main difference between African music and Western music consists in the fact that African music is totally functional, and it is so functional that many of the races in Africa do not even have a word for music. In short music is not any special event but takes place continuously when all work of life is done. It is a part of social events like religious ceremonies, marriages, births, deaths, the coronation of the kings, preparation of food, etc. (African music - work Songs)

At the same time there are special forms of music which is to be conducted for any of those special events and is not to be done outside those events. This means that religious music is done only at the time religious ceremonies are conducted. In their life also dance and music are not to separate activities, and all music and dance take place together. There are no audiences for music who sit separately and quietly listen to the music being conducted by others. This integrates their music totally with dance. While the music and dance is going on, there is participation by everybody through singing, playing instruments, clapping, dancing, etc. Again most of the music that takes place does not have any commercial connection and are performed by amateurs for recreational purposes and others for political, social or religious purposes. (African music - work Songs)

Another difference is in the fact that African music does not have written scores and is just handed down from one generation to the next. The master musician passes the music on to the designated heir and he memorizes it by rote. We have already seen that all aspects of social life have music associated with it; the role of the musician in society is considered to be very important. The history of the society is also passed down through the songs and this gives the musician an extra role as the keeper of history and tradition for the group. The music lends itself to this that African languages are tonal languages and any word will have different meanings depending on the comparative highness or lowness with which the word is spoken. It is also not true that African music does not have instruments, but they have more instruments than Europeans as each group of people have their own instruments and tuning. (African music - work Songs)

Apart from that each group also makes their own instruments as per their own tradition. When the slaves were shifted from Africa to America, they maintained their own dancing and singing as they were compelled to sing and dance. This provided them exercise in the limited space that was available and also reduced the depression which otherwise accounted for a high suicide rate. In the early stages of the arrival of slaves into the United States, the music served many functions, but was mostly African in character. Over a period of time, the form changed and it became Afro-American. Most of the slaves were based in the South and they were expected to work all day in a similar environment. (African music - work Songs)

This stopped their variations in music to different functions as they were not permitted to participate in many of their regular functions. Also they had to perform the activities of work, worship and relaxation in very similar surroundings. This was because of the monotonous environment and conditions that they had to face. This also changed there work songs and these became short and mainly rhythmic to accompany their work, having only two or three phrases, solo parts of the song and chorus were following each other immediately and this is seen as cal and response, improvised words and music depending on the situation. Still the songs remained African in origin and the work songs were not very much affected by the European influence. (African music - work Songs)

Even within the United States it was seen as early as 1867 that the slave songs used words taken from the scripture and also from the hymns that are sung at church. This does not mean that their language was being spoilt, and the expressions used for their songs used to be things like "Cross Jordan," "O Lord remember me," "I am going home," "there's enough room in heaven for you," etc. these seem to be directly taken from Methodist hymn books, but the tunes did not come from the Methodist books. Some were similar like "Praise, member" which was apparently taken from "Choral Hymns." At the same time, it seemed clear that the songs keep passing n from Negroes in one part of the country to another, and the songs from Brooklyn went to Philadelphia and then further on. They had however released that the study was not big enough to cover the entire area. (Slave Songs of the United States)

The total collection that they reviewed, were mainly from some select plantation and forty-three of them were from a single plantation. It was also seen that there was constant exchange between the different plantations regarding these songs. Some of the songs thus get restricted in certain regions and one of them "Roll, Jordan was being sung at Florida, but not in North Carolina. The songs are led by the presiding elder or one of his brothers who has a musical capacity. The person leading the song of course has to be in the good books of the church authorities, and not under their censure. The hymns which are sung are delivered two lines at a time and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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