HIST212 - LCC - Race & Popular Music

HIST212 - LCC - Race & Popular Music - Smith PAGE 1 Justin...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Smith - Justin Smith From Jazz to Hip-Hop: The History of Popular Music and Race in America “Music is an indirect force for change, because it provides an anchor against human tragedy. In this sense, it works towards a reconciled world. It can also be the direct experience of change. At certain points during some shows, the reconciled world is already here, at least in that second, at that place. .. Those seconds reveal that the momentum that drives a subculture is more important than any particular band. The momentum is made of all the people who stay interested, and keep their sense of urgency and hope.” -Jesse Michaels The above statement, included in the liner notes of the 1991, career spanning retrospective of the seminal ska-punk band Operation Ivy, may be the most concise articulation of the transformative power of music and performance. At its best music can transport the audience into an altered state of mind which blurs the divisions of race, class and culture. Yet each musician synthesizes this energy from life experience which allows his music to subliminally convey much more than the component parts of rhythm, harmony, and prose. These life experiences need not be pleasant to create beautiful music, in fact, many argue that it is imperative for the experience of the musician to be just the opposite. If that is so, African Americans have more than enough pain and strife to draw upon. In this paper I will examine three major movements in twentieth century African American music: jazz; rhythm & blues/rock & roll; and hip hop; including the reactions these forms recieved from white audiences; and whether this musical history truly resulted in social change. The Jazz Age The American author Jack Kerouac described jazz the following way: “Music which has not been pre-arranged—free-for-all ad lib. It is the outburst of passionate musicians, who pour all their energy into their instruments in the quest for soulful expression and super-improvisation. 1 1 Kerouac in Swenson, John; ‘Beat Jazz: The Real Thing;’ The Rolling Stone Book of the Beats
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Smith - One could read the statement above as a description of Kerouac’s own writing style, therefore it is little wonder why the style known as bebop jazz was so personally appealing to him. We can learn more of what in jazz so enthralled Kerouac by looking at his most famous work, On the Road . In it, Kerouac describes walking the streets of Denver after an all night jazz binge “wishing I were a Negro, feeling that the best the white world had offered was not enough ecstasy for me. 2 ” In jazz Kerouac found a freedom almost too great to comprehend in an era of conformity and growing commercialism. It’s ironic that this music so admired for its intrinsic unabashed freedom grew out of the chains of slavery. “The musical tradition known as jazz is a hybrid with roots in West Africa, Europe, the
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 03/19/2008 for the course HIST 212 taught by Professor Gritter during the Fall '06 term at Lansing.

Page1 / 15

HIST212 - LCC - Race & Popular Music - Smith PAGE 1 Justin...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online