Blogger Reflections

Kevin Murtha
As a long-time enthusiast for jazz music, I was naturally excited to have the opportunity to study it for a class project. I listen to jazz more than any other genre of music and have performed in jazz ensembles for a several years. I am even listing to jazz right now as I write this!

For this project, it was my primary responsibility to study the history of jazz and its cultural origins. Although I was aware for some time that jazz music grew out of the United States in the early twentieth century, it was not until conducting my research that I truly appreciated it as a classically American form of art. Like so many other elements of American culture, the creation of jazz owes itself largely to the meshing of cultures from countries all over the world. After its conception, communication breakthroughs in the twentieth century allowed it to spread all throughout the world, and its style is constantly changing and redefining itself, even to this day.

What is perhaps even more amazing about the jazz movement is the way in which it revolutionized music all throughout the western world. Stylistic elements that make up genres such as rock and roll and rhythm and blues can be almost completely attributed to the inventions of jazz. These styles, in turn, gave rise to a number of different types of rock music, pop music, and hip-hop, all of which are very popular in today’s culture. In short, the claim that jazz music has influenced today’s music is practically an understatement. Jazz has come to take an integral role in the formation of twentieth-century music and its influence continues today.

This research project was very valuable to me, because it helped me to see the extent of jazz music’s influence on so many aspects of our culture. Up to this point, I was well-acquainted with jazz music and the techniques that define it, but a better understanding of its cultural implications has left me with a whole new outlook on its importance as an American art form. If any of this presentation has interested you, you should try exploring some jazz music to see what you like. A great way to discover new music is by checking out the radio offerings in your area for a jazz station or two. Pay attention to the artists of the songs you particularly like, and start building your collection with albums from those artists. After all, it makes great study music!

Sam Svedlund
Bebop has always been something that has interested me because of my involvement and training in hip hop and modern dance styles. Hip Hop is a musical evolution of Bebop and still continues to carry the spirit of revolutionizing music. Bebop emerged in the 1940’s as a new expression and innovation from current and classical Jazz styles. Artists who formed the new sound were typically those who found Jazz to be too repetitive and even boring; they wanted to create and imagine an entirely new sound that would interest everyone and not just one audience.

The music itself that is referred to as Bebop is sampling fascinating because of its speed and volume of sound, unlike any other form of music. It is interesting to know that the new style was created “underground” so to speak in nested locales within the heart of Harlem and 52nd street. This was because the artists were typically not allowed to play at primarily White clubs or restaurants because of their color; typically the artists were African American. Arguably, location had a lot to do with the music’s historical background since it was kept a secret from the public for a good amount of time.

Charlie Parker, Kenny Clarke, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk are accepted as the original “founders” of Bebop so to speak. These men were the true engineers behind the start and progression of the Bebop era. They worked separately at first, but ended up becoming a musical group sometime during the late 1940’s; each one starting off as a young Jazz musician who ended up inventing a new musical form.

I truly enjoyed creating this blog because the topic interests me so much. I took the time to research about the influence Bebop had and still currently has on Hip Hop music. The research I ended up finding revealed that many of today’s Hip Hop legends actually spoke with many Bebop musicians to find inspiration for their music.

Kristy Miller
Although jazz and bebop music originated in 1920s America, aspects of this music and way of life can be seen in modern culture. Many believe that the 1920s were “the start of Modern America “ (Gaddis). This modern way of life is characterized by the less conservative music, fashion, and behaviors of this era. More and more people were finding themselves partying in dance halls, roadhouses, and speakeasies, nightclubs that sold alcohol illegally. Jazz music was referred to as “Devil’s Music” (Gaddis) because of its association with sex and partying. The “Jazz Age” embodied this type of culture, and the more promiscuous lifestyle. This type of lifestyle seems very liberal, but in compassion to modern America, it looks like a cardigan sweater- very conservative.

Although the “Jazz Age” centered on music, all types of culture changed during this era. F. Scoot Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” was published in 1925 and helped to emphasize and redefine the American Dream. The positive mentality of this age helped post-war America regain some of its stability due to the progress and optimism of the American people. The twenties in America can be described as a giant breath of fresh air.

Also, the twenties were the of the start sexual revolution. Women became real life femme fatales during this decade by leaving the home and wearing more provocative clothing. Flapper dresses had much shorter hemlines than were previously accepted and bathing suits become more of fashion statements than social fractions. Also, teenagers were beginning to sexually experiment, which showed that culture was moving farther away from social conservatism and toward a more liberal mentality. The roarin’ twenties were a decade full of new ideas- new music, new literature, new fashions, and new mentalities.

The “Jazz Age” was the start of modern America. Jazz and Bebop music’s upbeat nature captivated audiences and caused people to become excited about life when worldwide trauma post World War I suggested differently. People began to believe in the American Dream once again and the innovation of the 1920s was contagious. Although conservative mentalities were becoming more liberal, this time of innovation and creative thinking was the beginning of unbelievable progress in America. Since the 1920s, America has created the first automobile, flown the first airplane, landed the first man on the moon, and become the technological empire of the entire world. The “Jazz Age” may be characterized by Jazz and Bebop music, but this era was more than that. It was just the beginning of breakthroughs that America would experience in the coming decades.

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