An Introduction To Jazz’s Influence On Society: The 4th of a 4-part Series on the Essentials of Jazz
Over the past 100+ years, Jazz has played a very important role in our society, not simply as entertainment, but also as a marker for the development of a nation. It has been, and continues to be, a very influential style of music on people of all ages and backgrounds. And while many people enjoy listening to jazz music, there may be a few who wish to take a closer look at jazz, not only from a listener’s perspective, but also from a investigative point of view. This may include an inspection of the history of jazz, various styles of jazz, key influential jazz artists, or even the influence of jazz on society.
This article, a summary of Jazz’s Influence On Society, is the last of a 4-part series covering the nuts and bolts of jazz. Whether you are an avid listener and musician, a noobie interested in what jazz has to offer, or simply want to brush up on your jazz knowledge to impress those around you, this 4-part series about the fundamentals of jazz is a great start and a MUST READ!
Ever since jazz has been around, it has played a tremendously large role in society. From the beginning of Ragtime (which heavily influenced the transition to Traditional/New Orleans Jazz at the end of the 19th century) all the way to the advent of acid jazz, fusion, and modern jazz in the 1980′s and 1990′s, we can view jazz not only as music and entertainment, but also as a means of regulating society. Whether we are talking about its influence on people’s spirits in the Great Depression of the late 1920′s and early 1930′s or if we talk about it’s evolution to Swing in the 1930′s and 1940′s, a common thread can be found. That is, namely, a form binding a society through common desires and emotions.
As was mentioned in part 3 of this 4-part series, jazz artists and musicians have made tremendous contributions toward the music we know as jazz. While we do not want to de-emphasize this point, it is also true that the times in which these artists and musicians set the stage for a certain type of atmosphere and feeling. Yes, they did play a large role in their own developments of jazz, and this is not to be overlooked. It is, however, also possible to say that given the circumstances of the times (especialy in the beginning of the 20th century), jazz musicians and artists were given their opportunity to step forward and produce.
Just as they have formed their impression on jazz music, it was also the other way around. In essence, one can look at this topic not only as jazz’s influence on society, but also as society’s influence on jazz. This symbiosis, if you will, is what has allowed jazz to develop and evolve in the way it has.
Jazz has changed over the last 80 years, and this fact parallels this line of thinking. As time has changed, so has everything else, from economic and technological development, to people’s life styles, to the role jazz and other forms of music play in the everyday lives of people. To say that jazz is as popular now would not be the most observant statement; nonetheless, it has remained within a niche of society that embraces what it has to offer. This may be a nostalgic road trip to the past (when jazz’s popularity had peaked), a reverence payed to the stylistic nuances of jazz, or simply a love for the instruments and sounds that are commonly associated with jazz. Regardless of which, jazz finds itself within our society, having first given opportunity to musicians and artists and then being carved around society’s ever-changing life styles by these same people.
Jazz & The 1920′s: Traditional/New Orleans Jazz
The 1920′s found itself in a state of industrial and technological development. This era has special importance not only to those who experienced it, but also to those who continue to benefit from it’s contributions. Jazz, not coincidentally, followed in suit, feeding on such advancements and developing from other great and influential styles of music. It can be said that human and material resources combined to express an energetic phenomenon known as Jazz, encompassing not only music but a state of mind.
This era saw many great artists, Louis Armstong, Kid Ory, Bix Biderbeck, and Jelly Roll Morton to name a few. This lively new music combined syncopations of ragtime with adaptations of popular melodies, hymns, marches, work songs and the Blues. It was a great development in jazz that helped bind a country through tough times ahead.
Toward the end of the 1920′s, society found itself having taken a 180 and was now in The Great Depression. Having fed off the emotions and energy of the early part of the decade, jazz now took a different role, as glue for a society in need. From the depression, plaguing people economically to prohibition, depriving people mentally and socially, jazz took its stronghold on those that had created it and strove to be the one that would soften the blow and give people they joy they needed.
Jazz & and 1930′s