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MUH 271 Jazz History. Some Notes from Chapter 3. “What Kind of Music is Jazz?”. Categories of folk, art, and “pop” music Division into categories based on “ethnocentric value judgments” labels exist but have no theoretical basis

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Muh 271 jazz history l.jpg

MUH 271 Jazz History

Some Notes from Chapter 3


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“What Kind of Music is Jazz?”

  • Categories of folk, art, and “pop” music

  • Division into categories based on “ethnocentric value judgments”

  • labels exist but have no theoretical basis

  • The labels, however, particularly folk, art, and pop, do in fact identify (at least as ideal types) fairly discrete musical function and content.

  • Cultural economic and transmission support systems as primary determinants


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Folk, Art, and Pop music

  • Folk Music

    • meets the approval of the group; tied to social occasions

    • transmission indirect or even incidental; oral transmission

    • text is emphasized.

    • no “professional” musicians.

  • Art music

    • non-subsistence income to support specialist musicians

    • direct patronage by individuals or institutions

    • extended, formal performances, individual's creative output

    • training

    • self- and class-selected listening

  • Popular Music

    • indirect patronage by a mass audience

    • technology as a means of transmission; owner/providers mediate flow

    • economic

    • musicians are specialists or professionals


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Congressional resolution of 1987

  • Main tenets (contradictions?)

    • art yet also people’s music

    • indigenous American music yet global

    • ethnically unifying yet African American

  • Distinction between “race” and “ethnicity”

    • jazz musicians may be black or white or any other ethnicity.

    • African American: not a race but an ethnic group

    • ethnic features can be learned and shared

    • African American musical principles include polyrhythm, call and response, blue notes, and timbre variation: the principles are not unique but their combination is


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Folk Traditions

  • Serve to establish a persistent musical identity

  • Helped create the hybrid nature of American culture

  • Various Genres

  • Ballads: local history through long songs; often include braggadocio

  • Work songs: accompanied manual labor

    • Berta Berta

    • Work Song (Cannonball Adderley)

  • Field hollers: unaccompanied, rhythmically loose, accompany farm labor

  • Spirituals: call and response with religious poetry. Two kinds: polished Fisk Jubilee Singers style; orally transmitted Pentecostal church singing. By 1920s, gospel music had developed. Spirituals are highly interactional, which influenced jazz musicians.


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Blues (see also “Blues” notes)

  • Country blues

    • Solitary singer (male), guitar accompaniment

    • Loose and improvisatory form

  • City (Vaudeville, Classic, Urban) blues

    • Style originally “acquired” by female singers

    • Female singer, accompanied by piano/organ, multiple inst.

    • Stricter adherence to form


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Minstrelsy

  • a uniquely American entertainment led to parodies of European operatic and theatrical songs

  • In the 1830s, minstrel musical acts appeared as interludes between circus acts or theatrical performances

  • (1843) first full-scale minstrel show played in New York; "Virginia Minstrels“ applied black cork to their faces, performed song-and-dance/variety show

  • Blackface

    • typically burned, pulverized champagne corks mixed with water or petroleum jelly

    • racial marker

    • type of mask to shield the performers from identification with the their roles


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“Jim Crow” and “Zip Coon”

  • "Jim Crow" - A construct of Thomas Dartmouth "Daddy" Rice, "Jim Crow" was presumably inspired by an elderly African American who Rice had seen dancing and singing the words: "Weel about and turn about and do jus' so, Eb'ry time I weel about, I jump Jim Crow." The name later refered to the racial caste system that existed from 1877 to the mid 1960s.

  • "Zip Coon" - Created by George Washington Dixon, "Zip Coon" supposedly represented the "dandy," "sporting life" Northern character who had acquired some wealth through legitimate or illegitimate means.


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Ragtime

  • Performance Practice vs. written notation

    • Known & unknown variations in “established” music

      • Pitch variance (intonation).

      • “rough and varied timbres.”

      • “ragging”

  • "African" contributions include:

    • Syncopated rhythm.

    • Social significance. Ragtime possibly descended from the “cakewalk,” a “walkaround” in which couples would parade around a square and improvise high-stepping, vigorous movements as they turned the corner. The cakewalk can be seen as a white imitation of black slaves parodying European dances.

  • European music contributions.

    • Form, probably derived from the march.

    • Solo piano.

  • Other characteristics:

    • Alternating root/chord in the left hand.

    • Solo piano.

    • Fully notated.


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