Music has always had the power to affect people. This fact has shown itself since the first cave dwellers took whatever tools they could find or create and through blowing hitting or other meas created sounds that they considered pleasant to the ear. This is a tradition that is found in all cultures although certain religious beliefs have led it to be banned in a few places. This essay looks at the history of one particular type of music, jazz, and how it has affected the world.
Hundreds of years ago a great tragedy in human history took place. Millions of Africans were kidnapped from their homes and forced to endure a harrowing journey across the sea in cramped vessels which only a fraction of them survived. Once they reached their destinations in North and South America and the Caribbean, they were stripped of any remaining rights as people in order to be sold as property or slaves. In this new role they were forced to give up many aspects of their culture including language and religion and while syncretism allowed some of it to survive in the gospel songs, much was lot to further generations.
When the plantation economy began to crumble, slavery was abolished but people of African descent were not automatically given full rights as citizens. They were subjected to a new injustice called segregation. This inadvertently furthered the progress of several musical art-forms which were forced to evolve with limited external influence.
As members of an oppressed population, African Americans found ways to vent their frustrations musically. From this came the mournful tones commonly associated with the blues and the free-flowing melodies of jazz. They sounded like nothing else that came before them although they did retain some of the African influences in their rhythms and even the choice of instruments.
As with anything new, there were many cases of sampling. This was particularly rampant during segregation where white bands would cover music sung by black ones without sharing royalties. By virtue of their race they would get better airplay and fame. In modern times, many musicians use fusions that nod to earlier jazz acts.
As with any other style, jazz has gone through many phases. Even people who prefer other genres will admit that the melodic complexities are hard to surpass and that it is a style that shows true musicianship.
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