The Sociology Of Jazz
Many teenagers these days constantly hear that their music is terrible. Out of all the bands that I like, my parents like a handful. This is not happening just to us. Back in the thirties and forties, teenagers were told the same. But back then there were no heavy metal bands or rap bands. There were, however, jazz bands. In this essay, I will discuss the culture changes in those days, and how they affected music.
First of all, the culture of the thirties was entirely different from the culture today. People back then did not dress in khaki pants and t-shirts. They dressed in suits and hats. They weren t driving around drunk, going one hundred miles per hour on a small suburban driveway. And they did not listen to rap and rock, simply because it did not exist. That is what the adult culture was like back then.
There was a subculture to that culture. It was the culture of the bobby-soxers, also known as teenagers. While they still did not wear t-shirts, they did drive around in insane manners, they drank, they smoked, and they listened not to ragtime, but to jazz and swing. That scared and confused their parents, much like our parents are scared for us today. Jazz and Swing influenced much of that change that goes on. Specifically, it was the Swing. This type of music was fast-paced, and never the same. The best type of dancing to swing was, well, to swing. Teens went to swing concerts to toss their partners, flip, spin, and whatnot. Many people were getting hurt, and scared the adults.
Jazz and Swing also have a lot to contribute to cultural diffusion. Jazz originated in New Orleans, the town of stirred cultures. There were many different people living in that port town, but particularly, there were quite a few African-Americans. Their culture diffused from the tribal ways of home, and came together with the American culture. That is when a man named Jelly Roll Morton invented Jazz. The heavy drum beats from Africa, combined with American ragtime created a hybrid known as Jazz. Cultural diffusion occurs when culture begins to spread from one place to another. That is one of the things that contributed to the invention of Jazz.
The second thing that contributed to both Jazz and Swing was cultural assimilation. When cultural assimilation occurs, then culture takes traits from other cultures. Again, when the African-Americans came to New Orleans, they combined their culture with a part of American culture. Drum beats plus trumpets and horns created the perfect combination for Jazz. Swing was created when two different cultures assimilated. When Jazz was combined with solo singing, that became known as blues. An African-American woman named Bessie Smith first tried it. She sang to both slow and fast rhythms. When people heard the faster, impromptu rhythms, they shaped it into swing. Swing is basically fast-paced blues, sometimes combined with singing. Some singers used a method called scat singing. That is when the singer mimics an instrument with his or her voice.
As we all know, Jazz, Blues, and Swing shaped the teenagers of the thirties and forties. In fact, those styles of music paved the way for what would later be known as rock and roll. But without culture, and all the cultural attributes, who knows how the kids may have turned out like. In fact, I am sure that in some way the earlier century music shaped the teenagers today.