Analysis Of ' Ma ' Rainey 's Black Bottom By August Wilson

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Characters of their Music
Blues and jazz music, though they both have great roots in African American history, are undeniably different forms of expressing feelings that can be played using the same instruments. In the text, Ma’ Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson, there is a great conflict between one of the main characters, Levee, and the band he is to play with. His style of musical expression is Jazz, but he is playing in a blues band. Toledo and Levee are the two main characters used to convey the personification of blues and jazz music, respectively, throughout the play. Before considering how Toledo and Levee act as a symbol for these different styles of music, both blues and jazz must be covered. Blues music made its start
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(As noted in the last line in the song – “Days are lonesome, nights are so long/I 'm a good gal, but I just been treated wrong” (Smith, 1926).) The character Toledo in Ma’ Rainey’s Black Bottom showed the most likeness towards blues when compared as a style of music. Just as blues has its own distinct style and message, jazz also has its own message and way to deliver it. Jazz music made its debut around the turn of the 20th century in New Orleans, Louisiana. It uses many similar instruments as blues, but the style is more syncopated like a fast-paced skipping heartbeat upon a swinging rhythm. Jazz uses not only vocal techniques to tell the story, but also incorporates improvisation as well. Jazz singers also introduced a style called scat singing into their music to pull the improvisational feel of the brass and woodwind instruments. Also, contrary to blues’ general tone being about the past and moving forward, jazz’s general tone is about lust, relaxation, reality, having fun, and sometimes even violence. The main form of storytelling in jazz is the instruments. Duke Ellington’s “Take the A Train” starts the story with brass and woodwinds imitating the sounds a train makes while taking off to set the tone of the song (Ellington, 1939). Improvisation is a core part of jazz that is often misunderstood. The improvisational instrument can change and still be the same song, but the can change the
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