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Wahed Blog 1

The most interesting part of the 20th century for me would be what it was during the “Downtown Scene” of New York. New York was a hot pot of culture at the time and the jazz scene flourished. The 1920s and 1930s saw major changes in the way that music was listened to and it wasn’t just at orchestras and plays. Jazz made it so that an everyday person walking down the street could hear the piercing sounds of saxophones, drums, and trumpets just walking down the street. The textbook states, “Cage paved the way for the so-called “downtown” New York experimental scene that broke down barriers between music, visual art, performance, and so forth.” The textbook describes this time as “breaking down barriers” and I largely agree with the textbook’s definition; one could argue that jazz changed music forever.

Charlie Parker – Jam Session (Jam Blues). The music sounds incredibly different from my knowledge. I came from the expectation that every jazz performance is above 110 BPM, that every player has a set time for them to “jazz-it-out” or simply improvise their act. From listening to Jam Blues, it’s clear that jazz is not just about BPM and playing fast. Charlie Parker brings his own “sound” into the fray, meaning that he lets himself shine by playing non-stop, but also lets his other players shine as well. The textbook describes the jazz scene briefly as not chaotic, soul music or anything else of the like, but by saying it’s “experimental.” By describing it in this way, the reader gets the impression that the NY downtown scene wasn’t an ordinary time for music. I feel that this is a good approximation of the music itself; jazz is chaotic and experimental by nature.

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July 2024

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