Harlem Stride Piano And The Harlem Renaissance

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As a by-product of the Great Migration of African Americans to the north, city such as New York became capitals of African American culture. In his book, The History of Jazz, Ted Gioia notes that Harlem specifically became known as the panicle of black culture and high black society during the 1920’s. This period of black cultural development would later be formally known as the Harlem Renaissance. While the Harlem Renaissance is traditionally viewed as boom of African American artisanship and prosperity the truth, especially in regards to jazz history, is that while black culture was booming the quality of living for many African Americans was not. Gioia describes this duality as the two Harlems. Harlem was simultaneously a cultural capital and a slum, both of these elements would contribute to the development of jazz in New York.
The piano took center stage in Harlem. The instrument could be seen in the homes of the wealthy as well as the rent parties of the poor. The piano served as the cultural bridge between the jazz played by more affluent African Americans and the ragtime brought over by the poorer southern African Americans who had recently migrated to New York. A new style of piano playing was born out of this fusion, known as Harlem Stride Piano. Harlem Stride Piano was often played at piano duels in which contestants would try to one up one another with their piano skills for the amusement of an audience. Two of the most notable Artists who made their name at

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