The Harlem During The Harlem Renaissance

1631 Words7 Pages
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…show more content…
A more streamline form of jazz that existed in direct opposition to big bands was beginning to take shape. This subgenre, bebop, deconstructed the almost rigid form that swing had imparted on jazz. Bebop favored speed and improvisation over the structure and rhythm that was typical of swing. Bebop often started and ended with a melody and was nearly entirely improvisation in between. These improvisations took front and center as bebop favored few back up instruments. Two of the most prominent figures in this sub-genre were Charlie Parker and John “Dizzy” Gillespie. Parker began learning to play different instruments in high school. His desire for a non-traditional sound drove him to underground jam sessions where through trial and error he refined his skills and style. Gillespie had a much harder upbringing than Parker, but like Parker he sought to pioneer his own non-traditional approach to jazz. Parker and Gillespie would unite with a handful of other revolutionary new musicians to create the first bebop tracks. Bebop was initially received to mixed reviews. Some of the most prominent figures in jazz at the time claimed it was a mockery of jazz. However it could not be denied that a new distinct form of jazz had been created. This new sub-genre was indicative of a shift focus of jazz. Musicians were now beginning to focus more on artistic expression as opposed to…show more content…
It is easy to hear the rhythm and syncopation that Harlem stride borrowed from ragtime in this piece. Similar to ragtime, this piece contains a fast upbeat rhythm and dissonance between the melodies played by the left and right hand. Waller presents himself and his music with a high level of distinction and professionalism that was meant to appeal to the upper-class. Waller’s performances where known for their humor and their style, which is conveyed in this piece. The piece is simultaneously light-hearted and stunningly sophisticated. “Handful of Key’ shows of Waller’s virtuosic talent as well as his slick and illustrious style. In a similar manner to how Waller defined jazz piano improvisations of the time, Krupa defined jazz drum improvisations. As showcased in Benny Goodman Orchestra’s “Sing Sing Sing” Krupa used a new drum set up that allowed him to create a new pounding and heavier sounding style. Krupa’s work on “Sing Sing Sing” is significantly ahead of its time, his drum work in the piece sounds like it could be taken out of a number of song written decades after Krupa’s time. Without the professionalism and craftsmanship Goodman’s ensembles were known for, Krupa’s drums would easily overpower the piece. Krupa’s improvisation combined with Goodman’s perfection of swing create a unique piece that is both exotic and catchy. “Sing Sing Sing” stands out as a captivating and innovative piece

More about The Harlem During The Harlem Renaissance

Open Document