Jazz Age Review

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Jazz Age Review

Post by Patterson on Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:13 pm

Throughout the Harlem Renaissance we see that the evolution of jazz music is very relevant. During the 1920’s the most popular genre of the time was blues. The genre of blues originated from African Americans in the south. It came from adaptations on their spiritual music. Blues music had many defining characteristics that set it apart from other popular music of the time. One feature is the chord progression which featured the one, four, five progression. This simply means that the chords take the first, fourth, and fifth note of a scale. An example of this could be seen in the key of G where one is G, two is C, and three is D7. The chord progression would go G/G/G/G/C/C/G/G/D7/C/G/G. Another key feature that made blues what it was, was that it told stories of living down in the south as an African American. On the surface it may seem as if they are just lyrics that are catchy, but when listened to closely they tell the stories of many people living in the segregated south. Many great musicians such as Jimmie Rodgers and Lance Armstrong came out of the music at this time. Here are a couple of popular blues songs from the time.
West End Blues:
Waiting for a Train:

Over time, the popular blues genre of the 1920’s evolved into the swing and big band genre of the 1930’s. During this time period, the characteristics of jazz evolved greatly. One big characteristic was during the 1920’s most music was played in small groups of people. During the 1930’s this changed with the introduction of big bands. Another big characteristic was the music was more upbeat and was meant for people to have a good time and dance to. One thing that jazz music managed to keep from its old blues form was the same chord progression that blues came up with. Just like during the 1920’s there were many great musicians that people still look to today such as Benny Goodman or Glenn Miller. Here are a couple of their songs.
In the Mood:
Sing Sing Sing:

As can be seen between the two differences in these songs, the jazz genre managed to evolve over just a short span of about ten years. Both songs feature similar chord progression in terms of the first, fourth, and fifth notes on a scale. That is about all that is similar between the two songs, after that everything about them is different. This change can only be attributed to the events that were going on during the time period in terms of the evolution of the arts during the Harlem Renaissance. To sum up, the jazz genre changed drastically during the Harlem Renaissance.


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