In The Middle Of The 19Th Century, Congo Square Became

1369 WordsMar 21, 20176 Pages
In the middle of the 19th century, Congo Square became a center of musical expression. On these Sunday afternoons, a new form of music was born. Pioneered by those on the bottom of a society full of slavery and segregation, the origin of jazz was less a singular event than an evolving movement. None of those pioneers, however, could have anticipated the future of their developing art form. None could have foreseen that their informal rhythmic gatherings would eventually lead to nationally recognized big bands with more than 20 musicians and celebrity band leaders. The trajectory of jazz history is complex and rich, flowing from style to style and from region to region. Each step along the way from the early brass bands to the bebop bands…show more content…
Largely a remnant of military bands from the civil war, these provincial brass bands maintained a public presence with parades, parties, celebrations, and funerals. Fusing traditional marches with the developing ragtime styles and the cultural celebratory music of Congo Square, these bands started infusing their music with blues notes, syncopated rhythms, and jazz-like phrasing to get their audiences dancing. The instrumentation of these brass bands emphasized brass instruments, polyphonic musical style with a carrying tone, sectional playing within the band; many of these characteristics translated into early jazz forms. Though the label suggests a band comprising solely brass musicians, early Louisiana bands also included clarinet and saxophone. In the smaller bands used for indoor performances, a smaller “string band” was used, composed of cornet, violin, guitar, bass, and piano. These existing ensembles influenced the early jazz bands in New Orleans. Buddy Bolden’s band is widely considered the first true jazz band in New Orleans; according to a rare photograph from 1905, featured a pair of clarinets, cornet, valve trombone, guitar, and bass. Though the earliest bands were never recorded, jazz historians such as William Schafer have speculated about the influence of the brass band roots on the development of jazz style: black New Orleans brass band “nurtured a characteristic outdoor-playing style” with lots of

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