How Did New Orleans Create Divided Social Standards?

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By the late nineteenth century, a mix of cultural diversity and outside societal pressures within the port city of New Orleans in Louisiana pushed the progression of the jazz genre. At this time, New Orleans was the most cosmopolitan city in the United States and it thereby fostered an unprecedented blend of culture and ethnicity. This cultural melting pot allowed the mixing of many different genres, primarily ragtime and blues, which helped mold a new, innovative music style. Furthermore, the implementation of Jim Crow laws in the 1870s unexpectedly contributed to the growth of jazz by connecting musicians of different backgrounds with one another. This allowed for the intermingling of previously divided social classes, which created a unique …show more content…

Decades after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, a new set of de-facto social standards governed the lifestyle of all African Americans. Previously, some creoles were of elevated social class and were allowed to receive proper European-based classical music education. The creole’s elevated status was likened to that of the white man's, where some creoles even owned African American slaves. However, the Jim Crow segregation laws deemed all creoles to be of lower social standing, which forced classically trained musicians to create music with traditional blues musicians. The clashing of such disparate social class and music education backgrounds was likened to the meeting of white and black musicians, which Malcolm X believed that “the white musician can jam if he’s got some sheet music in front of him … [the black musician] improvises, he creates, it comes from within” (Gerard 28). Despite Malcolm X’s criticism of the classically-trained musician’s inability to improvise, the European-influenced creole musicians began to learn to create variation within ragtime’s syncopated form. Likewise, blues musicians adopted parts of the genre of ragtime and implemented it into their call-and-response based music. The merging of these two styles of music occurred as a result of external socio-political pressure of Jim Crow segregation, but ultimately helped establish an innovative and swinging genre of jazz

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