Jazz, Social Commentary, and the Harlem Renaissance

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Carolina Shout!

Carolina Shout!

Carolina Shout Invariably, Johnson’s most resolute ‘cut’ piece was his intricate showcase, “Carolina Shout.” A close analysis of the composition, as published in 1926 in sheet music form, should illuminate its profundity as well as Johnson’s desire to retain the call and response patterns, short melodic 

James P. Johnson, the Emergence of Stride, and the Rent Party

James P. Johnson, the Emergence of Stride, and the Rent Party

James P. Johnson, the Emergence of Stride, and the Rent Party   During the following years, Johnson would meet several musicians who would have a substantial influence on his playing–Willie “The Lion” Smith, Richard “Abba Labba” McLean, Luckey Roberts, and Eubie Blake. Each of these 

James P. Johnson

James P. Johnson

YOU’VE GOT TO BE MODERNISTIC: JAMES P. JOHNSON All the licks you hear, now as then, originated with musicians like James P. Johnson. And I mean all the hot licks that ever came out of Fats Waller and the rest of the hot piano boys. 

Ragtime

Ragtime

The blues, a key ingredient in the complex, musical cauldron of the United States, would amalgamate with another popular musical form, ragtime, to create jazz. Like the blues, ragtime began as an oral tradition among the African American community of the nineteenth century. In the 

The Blues

The Blues

By 1860, there were roughly four million Africans enslaved in the United States. Forcibly transplanted to a new land, they brought with them a rich, African heritage—including songs. Adapted to reflect the hardship of forced labor on plantations, field hollers, work songs, laments, and shouts 

In what way would the music of savages be inferior to that of civilized man? – Hugues Panassie (Locke vs. Baraka).

In what way would the music of savages be inferior to that of civilized man? – Hugues Panassie (Locke vs. Baraka).

Locke’s condescension of the spiritual’s inherent worth reaches its apogee when he claims the musical genre received its “highest possible recognition” when employed as thematic material for Antonín Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 in E minor, From the New World, Op. 95: [T]he spirituals and even the secular 

The Misguided Principles of the Harlem Renaissance.

The Misguided Principles of the Harlem Renaissance.

Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance: A Collection of Essays (1990), edited by Floyd, places music at the epicenter of this period of cultural change. He argues that while the Harlem Renaissance may have been literary in origin, music became the most decisive vehicle by which 

The “New Negro.”

The “New Negro.”

Alain LeRoy Locke has been proclaimed as the “Dean of the Harlem Renaissance” for his conviction to cultivating cultural change in America. In 1925, he published the epoch-making anthology, The New Negro. The collection portended a “new spirit is awake in the masses, and under the very 

How Does It Feel to be a Problem?

How Does It Feel to be a Problem?

“How does it feel to be a problem?” African American intellectual, William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, hereafter W.E.B. Du Bois, posited this query in his seminal text, The Souls of Black Folk, in 1903. There subsists a struggle for African Americans to construct and sustain an affirmative identity in 

Fighting for Freedom Abroad…and at Home.

Fighting for Freedom Abroad…and at Home.

On February 17, 1919, a mass of nearly two thousand black soldiers triumphantly and stoically marched up Fifth Avenue in New York City in a tight formation reminiscent of the allied French infantries. These men, members of Harlem’s 369th Regiment, were dubbed by their German foes