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Music of The 1920's: Ragtime, Jazz and Blues

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Early 1920s ragtime music had a heavy influence on dance. In the late 1920’s jazz started to have a heavy influence. The big music in the 1920’s was dance bands, Jazz, Blues, and Broadway. Some of the big musicians in dance bands were Paul Whiteman, Nat, Shilkret, Etc. Some big people in jazz are Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Etc. Another big music genre was the blues there were many people that played the blues. Some of the major people that played the blues are Mamie Smith, Ma Rainey, Smith Lonnie Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Etc. The last music genre that I’m going to mention is Broadway. A few of the big people in this genre are Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker, Fanny Brice, Helen Morgan, Etc. Dance bands started in the undergrounds and later expanded into the clubs.

Speakies (underground) started small but then began to prime and offered music and dance. Jazz clubs, private clubs, dance clubs, and roadhouses offered music and dancing just like a speaker would. With all the latest dance crazes and new music, everyone would gather in different places to hang out and party. Dancing was a big part of their pop culture. There were many iconic dances that were created from these scenes. Nearly every town had a place to meet and dance which made dance music so widely spread and popular in the 1920’s. Dance music was the starting foundation of classic pop. There were different classic pop moves, “The Black Bottom”, the “Shimmy”, the “Foxtrot”, the “Lindy Hop” and the “Charleston”. The most popular dance move out of those 5 was the Charleston, it was introduced in 1923. In the Broadway show “Runnin Wild” a song called the Charleston was used, The Charleston was almost the same style as ragtime music. There were several different orchestras that played this type of music, but many of the orchestras switched between different genres it depended on what was popular at the time. This type of music also influenced the type of fashion everyone wore, it caused people to wear more bagger clothes. “Flapper” style dress for the women and men would wear more casual sporty wear.

Another popular music genre is Jazz. In the 1900’s jazz music was created in New Orleans in black communities. With the combination of African and European style, these styles made up jazz music. It is a difficult style for it involves several different elements of several different styles. Jazz was a big influence at this period in time. It determined what everyone was wearing and the different dancing. Jazz was one of the first cultural music to be accepted by the American white middle class. Jazz scholars would normally separate “Jazz’ and “White Jazz”.

There was a big difference in the two, Jazz was the original African American artists. White jazz was more popularized artists. Jazz was very popular on the radio stations they had. This music playing on the radio help popularized white jazz, a big white jazz player was Bix Beiderbecke. Many of the clubs would only allow white musicians in white clubs and black musicians in black clubs. One of the last genres of music I’m going to write about is the blues. The blues most likely originate from African Americans in the deep southern states. The songs that were written were mostly about the problems in the writer’s life or racial problems. The blues were played in black communities and normally sung by black musicians. One of the biggest musicians of blues was Mamie Smith. She was one of the first recorded blues vocal performance. The song she wrote was hugely popular in the black communities, it was called “Crazy Blues”. Another big musician in blues was Ma Rainey or “Mother of Blues”.

Many people thought she was bisexual or lesbian, she was a very powerful voice in the LGBTQ. There was another artist that was called the “Empire of Blues” he name was Bessie Smith. She was one of the highest paid African American performers. The last genres I’m going to be telling you about is Broadway. I the late 1920’s the first full-length movie was created. The next thing to do after movies were to make musicals. Musicals were originally from the New York area. Broadway was where a lot of musically talented people come and meet to make new pieces. Some of the big composers in Broadway are George and Ira Green, Cole Porter, and Irving Berlin. Some of the broadway films turned into musical films some examples are “Sally”, “Show Boat”, “Rio Rita”, ETC. Some of the broadways shows merged in with the new jazz.

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