MUS 260 – History of Jazz
Study Guide Exam 1
Discuss the details of the social, cultural, and musical atmosphere in New Orleans as well as how this
atmosphere influenced the creation of jazz.
The Need for Live Music
– during this time there were no radios, televisions, CD’s, or tapes,
movies, phones, etc, there was not much to do. There almost had to be live music and a town
without a live band was a dull and boring town; therefore, sponsorships were provided to local
bands by churches, organizations, fire departments, etc.
– it was the center of commerce because of its nearness to the mouth of the
Mississippi River, a flourishing trade route for America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Because the
city was seaport, it catered to travelers from all over the world, and New Orleans maintained a
cosmopolitan party atmosphere. There was a famous prostitution district known as Storyville, it
got its name from alderman Sidney Story.
The party atmosphere generated a lot of work for musicians, there was such a high
demand for live music that there was a continuous need for fresh material. This caused
musicians to stretch styles. They blended, salvaged, and continuously revised odd
assortments of approaches and material. This ultimately became jazz.
Ethnic Diversity & Creoles of Color –
Sex between blacks and whites prior to the mid-1800s
led to a mixing of African and European traditions. The offspring from these unions were called
Creoles of Colors
. Their ancestry was part African and part French. White Creoles were of
French and Spanish background.
They were mostly well-educated, successful people –
businessmen, physicians, landowners, etc and spoke French, different from the blacks who had
little to no white ancestry. The children of Creoles received high-quality musical training. The
Creoles maintained a resident symphony and supported an opera house.
– many of these were retained in the New World despite their
contrast with musical tastes and traditions of the majority culture.
– highly rhythmic and physical, syncopated
African-American church music
– practicing the modifications to European church
hymns that slaves had incorporated. Spiced them up by altering rhythms, adding pitch
bends and new tone qualities.
Idiosyncrasies of speech patterns
– the rhythmic aspects that reflect African retentions
include emphasis on syllables that would not receive emphasis when spoken by Anglo-
Examples of undiluted African music performed in public
– the group of paraders
who participate in the Mardi Gras celebration and appear on side streets after the
officially sanctioned paraders pass.