As we know, lots of music genres exist in the world, but there is one kind of music that attracted me the most. It is Jazz. Why? Because listening to Jazz music can make me relax and feel alive, because jazz music is very soulful and creative. Like any other music, jazz has a history of its development that made it become what we hear these days. Interesting things that can be told about jazz history are its origins, its three misconceptions, its education and its forms.
Jazz is an improvisational, Afro-American musical form. Although its melodies and harmonies are influenced by European music, its rhythm is fundamentally African in origin (Williams, 860). The origins of jazz is starting in the latter part of 19th century from black work songs, field shouts, sorrow songs, hymns, and spirituals whose harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic elements were predominantly African. At the outset, jazz was slow to win acceptance by the general public, not only because of its cultural origin, but also because it tended to suggest loose morals and low social status. However, jazz gained a wide audience when orchestras adapted or imitated it, and became legitimate entertainment in the late 1930s when Benny Goodman led racially mixed group concerts at Carnegie Hall (Lagasseé, 1).
Furthermore, Jazz is generally thought to have begun in New Orleans, spreading to Chicago, Kansas City, New York City, and the West Coast. The blues, vocal and instrumental, was and is a vital component of jazz, which includes: ragtime; New Orleans or Dixieland jazz; swing; bop or bebop; progressive or cool jazz; neo-bop or hard-bop; third stream; mainstream modern; Latin-jazz; jazz-rock; and avant-garde or free jazz (Lagasseé, 1).
Beside the origins of Jazz, the other interesting parts of it are the misconceptions. Actually, there are lots of misconceptions in Jazz, but the most widespread is the concept that New Orleans was the exclusive American nursery of jazz. The second is that Jazz was originally African-American music and the third is the racial theory of jazz nurtured since the 1930s by critics in France (Feather, 21).
The first misconception is because a lot of musicians at that time came from New Orleans. And it is strongly connected with a tremendous volume of material that has been brought to light concerning virtually any musician’s background could be tied to the colorful story of the New Orleans brass brands. The second misconception – that is jazz grew wholly out of “African music” – is based on the fact that the music we recognize today as jazz is a synthesis of six main sources: rhythms from West Africa; harmonic structure from European classical music; melodic and harmonic qualities from nineteenth-century American folk music; religious music; work songs, and minstrel show music; with, a substantial overlapping of many of these areas. The last misconception is that more than half of the greatest jazz artists have been Negros; the music stemmed from a specific social environment, originally conditioned by slavery, in which groups of people largely shut off from the white world developed highly personal cultural traits. The truth about jazz is that it was not only from New Orleans, but also from other part of United States that came up simultaneously. Also jazz is came from African-American because when slavery era, they make melodies and rhythm that soon called as Jazz (Feather, 21-23).
Jazz is not only interesting from the history of the music, but it is also interesting from the history of its education. There are some people who are very concerned about the education of jazz music, thus they made School of Jazz and they made The Jazz Educator Journal. In this journal they wrote that Jazz is a purely American cultural heritage. According to Martin Luther, music was “the excellent gift of God”, and by recognizing its value in education, sought diligently for its inclusion in formal schooling. Based on what Rick Arnold wrote, with its inception, one of the functions of the public school was to “Americanize” the vast number of immigrants that were immigrating to this country. Americanization normally meant discarding old customs and values. This function of “Americanization” began to assume a lesser role in public education when, along with the civil rights movement in the ‘60’s came the realization that both cultural heritage and preservation were worth investigating and maintaining (Kuzmich, 7).
In addition, jazz is the music that is reflective of the American culture and peculiar to that culture alone. Only in America can one find a society that not only condones, but actually promotes this type of freedom in virtually every facet of human life. But shamefully, as Americans, they have not only failed in their public school systems to educate their youth to the fact that jazz is a purely American art form, but they have also neglected this valuable cultural heritage to the point that it became, at one time, virtually extinct (Kuzmich, 7-8)
Last but not least, the important thing that can be told about jazz is its forms. There are several forms in jazz music as previously mentioned. These include blues, ragtime, New Orleans jazz, swing, bop, progressive or cool jazz and also the recent trends of jazz.
As a result, Jazz is a very interesting music. Not only about its origins and its three misconceptions, but it is also about the education and the forms of it. Generally, music, not only jazz, has the power to heal. It can help us to relax and feel alive. It was and still is “the excellent gift of God”.