Jazz could be what describes America to a “T” in the 1920s. It was very popular throughout the entire decade of the 1920s. This era was called “The Jazz Age”, which was a term coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Campbell 52). It not only affected music, but it also contributed to an entire cultural renaissance in Harlem, brought other cultural groups together in a time of segregation, and the lifestyle of many Americans throughout the 1920s. Jazz would be the mold for everything American in the 1920s and could possibly be one of the best things that ever happened to this country.
Jazz has a long and complicated history. It did not progress from one musical style to another overnight. It was a hodgepodge of multiple musical styles added together. This would be crucial to the development of Jazz over time. Jazz developed into what it is today by taking multiple styles to fit the tune of the times.
Ragtime, the precursor to Early Jazz, was a mix of the rhythms from a Cakewalk and a March (Atkins 16). To be specific, a composer would take the rhythms from the Cakewalk and put music to it, thus creating Ragtime. Once Ragtime became popular, African American spirituals were added to it. Blues Style would also become widely popular in America but specifically the North, right along the still prosperous Ragtime (Atkins 17). However, a new musical style was emerging onto the scene.
Dixieland was a combination of Ragtime and improvisation and was played by a brass band. The Dixieland music style, unlike any of the other styles listed above, which were usually played on piano. Dixieland featured lots of improvisation and was mostly popular in the South, more specifically New Orleans (Atkins 18). The music was played for all kinds of occasions such as funerals or parades (Harvey 126). However, it soon became popular in the North. As expected, Dixieland would combine with Blues Style and this took on the name “Hot Music”. Hot music, a term used in the late 1910s and early 1920s, was basically Early Jazz (Atkins 21). Throughout the late 1910s and early 1920s Hot Music was develop in many ways: Clarinets would be replaced with Saxophones, the literal style of the Early Jazz would develop with the help of African American stylings, and the minor third would be added to the music. This would pave the way for the 1920s (Atkins 21).
The Harlem Renaissance began in New York in 1918, but started to prosper in the early 1920s. The Renaissance was originally a literary movement; however, it would quickly turn into an “Arts” movement, thus making Harlem the black cultural center of America (Shadwick 35). Around the time “everything Harlem” was growing, Ragtime and other musical styles of the late 1800s – early 1900s were fading. Jazz was growing and could be found everywhere. In bars, street corners, speakeasies, night clubs; if it had any type of entertainment involved, Jazz would be there. It was said that there were over one hundred places to listen and dance to...