The Significance Of Duke Ellington's 'Black, Brown, And Beige'

1751 Words8 Pages

Emma Carr
Professor Dylan Jack
The History of Jazz
March 10, 2023
The Significance of Duke Ellington’s “Black, Brown, and Beige”
Duke Ellington’s “Black, Brown, and Beige” reflects the experience of African Americans and Black musicians during the early to mid 20th Century. Combining aspects of early jazz with blues and swing, Ellington is able to portray three different messages in each of his movements, calling his audience to recognize the historical significance of slavery in America, racism and lack of respect faced by black Americans and jazz musicians, and the impact that jazz music made on American history. Through the lens of author Garth Alper, writer of “Black, Brown, and Beige: One Piece of Duke Ellington’s Musical and Social Legacy”, …show more content…

In Ellington’s first movement, Black, the listener is shown both the glitz and the guttural sounds that Ellington’s orchestra is able to create. Ellington described this piece in his autobiography by stating that “...I wrote it because I want to rescue Negro music from well-meaning friends…All arrangments of historic American Negro music have been made by conservatory-trained musicians who inevitable handle it with a European technique…It’s time a big piece of music was written from the inside by a Negro.” This statement by Ellington reflects the controversial way that Ellington approached the large-scale symphonic sound and highlights Alpher’s point that the combination between work song and African American church music was a non-traditional method of musical …show more content…

The glitz of the symphony paired with the tones of African Americans secular and sacred music propels Ellington’s arrangement in the direction of cultural integration and demands social recognition of the mistreatment of black Americans in both the past and Ellington’s present. Combining the technical skills of his musicians and the symphonic elements of music, including the frequent crescendos of sound and complimenting melodies, with the raw polyphonic sounds of the swing and jazz style, Ellington shows the audience his message through the non-traditional arrangements and

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