Chapter

THE IMPACT OF AFRICAN‐AMERICAN MUSIC MAKING ON THE EUROPEAN CLASSICAL TRADITION IN THE 1920S

Derek B. Scott

in FROM THE EROTIC TO THE DEMONIC

Published in print May 2003 | ISBN: 9780195151961
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199870394 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151961.003.0009
THE IMPACT OF AFRICAN‐AMERICAN MUSIC MAKING ON THE EUROPEAN CLASSICAL TRADITION IN THE 1920S

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The lack of identification of the black African with an Orientalist style in the early decades of the 20th century is explained by the association of black people with jazz. This chapter is concerned with the impact of ragtime, blues, and jazz on music of the European classical tradition. Consideration is given to the social and ethnic connotations of references to African-American styles in these pieces. The broader European social context — modernity, the alienated creative artist, and cosmopolitanism — is also important. The chapter discusses the relation of jazz to modernism, and confronts the question: how far are African-American elements seized upon by composers as mere tricks of the trade to give a new lease of life to a tradition in crisis? It explores the use of jazz-influenced styles as satiric weapons and, finally, looks at the misconceptions of African-American music-making that were widespread among European composers of this period.

Keywords: Orientalist style; black; classical; Europe; jazz; modernism; Paris

Chapter.  9916 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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