Endangerment of Jazz Music Term Paper

Pages: 6 (1646 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 8  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music

Jazz Endangered Genre

Jazz has a history of being linked to African and black roots and hence always had many obstacles to face in its acceptance as mainstream form of music in White American culture. Jazz music is an endangered genre not because of difficult acceptance but because of the fact that it is not an easy kind of music to perform professionally. The fact that new musicians cannot readily perform this kind of music has resulted in very slow growth of this genre and has threatened the very existence of Jazz.

The problem that has attacked Jazz most often is the presence of other forms of music. Since popular music has been easier to perform and understand, it gained mass popularity and hence many other forms of music went into oblivion. While Jazz is seen as an exclusive form, still it has always been compared with pop music and often the comparison has led to jazz being sidelined. In their interview, Marsalis and Hancock acknowledge the struggle with pop music they faced when started learning jazz because popular music was everywhere while jazz was not so readily known or understood. They believe that jazz is a much superior form of music but much barely gets the same recognition that pop music receives. "…the only statement I made was that we're trying to elevate pop music to the level of art. Not just in music. Pop culture. Pop anything. I have nothing against pop music. I listen to the radio. I'm not saying people should listen to jazz or buy jazz records, or even know the music. Just understand what the music is about, because the purpose and the function of pop music is totally different from jazz." (Marsalis and Hancock, Soul Craft)

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Apart from difficulty to perform, jazz has also suffered from generation stigma. Popular music is popular not because of any other reason but mainly because it is readily embraced by younger generations. However the same cannot be said of jazz because jazz has this generation stigma that it cannot get rid of. People constantly link jazz to stars like Louis Armstrong and Miles Davis, people of older generation and hence younger generation tries to stay away from this kind of music simply because of association.

TOPIC: Term Paper on Endangerment of Jazz Music Assignment

The other problem has been the fact that jazz is considered black music. It has its roots in the African culture and many of its stars were black and hence an association with black culture has impeded the growth and popularity of jazz. Even though defenders of jazz would want to argue otherwise, it's true that jazz has a strong link with the black identity and culture. "I understand what you mean about a certain type of groove, like this is the real R&B, and so forth. But I can't agree that there's only one way we're supposed to be playing. I have faith in the strength of the black contribution to music, and that strength is always going back to the groove, anyway. After a while certain things get weeded out. And the music begins to evolve again." (Soul Craft)

the fact that America divides music along racial lines has seriously affected the growth of some forms of music and jazz is one of them. Even though there is rapid acceptance of rap and R&B for example but they are still seen as pre-dominantly black music forms and anyone singing them apart from black singers can attract negative attention and may even be ridiculed for trying to be black. This is a serious issue in the music industry but one that has not yet found a good solution because race and culture are consistently being seen as a part of music. In other words, there is some kind of music that white people love and other kind that black people endorse and hence music has found these racial associations which tend to impede its growth. This has always been the case as Marsalis explains, …classical music is not white music. When Beethoven was writing music, he wasn't thinking white or black. Those terms became necessary in America when they had to take white artists and make them number one because they couldn't accept black artists. We constantly have historical redefinitions to the take artistic contributions out of the hands of people who were designated black (soul, craft 3).

Audiences in the United States have found that music will always have some demographic limitations. Some people is for the young and some for the older generation and the lack of acceptance for the latter by younger generations tend to lend further support and credibility to race and age divisions. Popular music may be less expressive artistically, it is still the one most widely sought after due to mass popularity and consumption. Popular music thus has one thing that jazz has found very difficult to attain i.e. validity.

The very thing that had once made jazz popular is now the enemy of jazz's growth and i.e. its association with black culture exclusively. It was Charlie Parker whose voice and style of singing and innovation in jazz helped blacks get the much needed breakthrough in the field of music but it was also that association which slowly and gradually led to the death of jazz. With his talent and confidence, Parker was able to break through that wall of racial discrimination that had kept many blacks away from the world of music. Strangely enough, some people feel that jazz is synonymous with black community's suffering and pain; this is a weird notion and one that kills the idea of universal appeal of jazz. But it is probably because of people like Charlie Parker that some people started associating jazz with black people exclusively.

Parker tried to make jazz more acceptable by introducing new ideas and innovations to this music form. His contribution to the world of jazz cannot be ignored but his later addiction to heroin only stigmatized jazz further. Charlie Parker was one of the first jazz musicians to introduce rapid lyrics, which were sung very fast but still managed to retain their beauty and rhythm. It is know that one of the technologically different things about his jazz style was fast beats and equally rapid tunes. But it is quite a surprise that none of his songs are without meaningful melody. They are still popular today because they contain some substance. Ko was a tune that he developed in 1940s and it became very popular in those days. The tune is hardly two minutes, 53 seconds long and in the beginning, all we can hear is the magnificent sound of alto saxophone and trumpet being played together.

Jazz has other factors affecting its growth too. When it first became known, jazz had good support among audiences and it was considered an important music form that later just lost its way. Jazz was popular once because it challenged the authority in music and threatened the traditionalist domination of music world. But along the way, jazz lots its original source of popularity and thus became more and more a forgotten phenomenon. "Mooney (2004) notes:

The emergent "culture industry" that manufactured and distributed popular music came to fruition in the mid to late 1890's and increasingly challenged traditionalist values thereafter. Tin Pan Alley's entertainment entrepreneurs fashioned commercial amusements not in correspondence with the venerated models of "high" European classicism, but for an ever-expanding working-class audience demanding immediate and uncomplicated pleasures. This gradual turn away from entertainments justified by their ostensibly "uplifting" didacticism and towards modern amusements, such as ragtime and early jazz, did not occur in the absence of opposition, of course. Traditionalists vociferously resisted this trend in, among other places, the pages of the early twentieth century press.

But Jazz has also suffered due… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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