Dance and Music as Reactionary Art Forms 1920-1970by Rit Nosotro
Compare reactionary art forms (dance and music) of American History between 1920 and 1970. What were the social, political, and cultural influences that nurtured their development?
During the 1920’s and through the 1970’s, reactionary art forms such as dance and music were greatly affected due to various sources. As America was experiencing great changes, so were these forms of expression. Each of these artistic forms was being built upon and changed as new ideas burst forth and produced astonishing results.
The development of jazz music during this era was immense. Louis Armstrong was responsible for creating a new way of playing jazz. Before the 1920’s, jazz was played in a group or band setting; however, after Armstrong became popular, musicians followed his pattern and began playing solos. Louis Armstrong was an amazing vocalist and was also known for his abilities to improvise and play the trumpet. Louis also popularized Scat singing, a form of singing that doesn’t use words or uses nonsensical words. He was instrumental in bringing about a greater appreciation for soloists and jazz music. With his talent he combined both these ideas and made drastic changes in how American’s played music. In the 1940’s a new branch of jazz was birthed. Bebop incorporated lighter rhythms, chord progressions and experimented with improvising techniques. This kind of jazz was given the name of ‘cool’ because of its smooth tones and subtle melodies and harmonies.
Rock and roll was established in the 1950’s and created an awkward situation for blacks and whites. During that time, race was still a very important social issue and yet rock and roll intertwined white and black music causing mixed emotions among Americans. As white musicians realized the popularity of rock and roll, they began to dominate the music scene and copy many songs recorded by black musicians. Rock and roll was so impressive at that time that race was forgotten at concerts and between band members and performers.
Another element impacted during this era was dance. At the turn of the century, classical ballet became outdated and many looked down upon the former ways of dancing. Dancers began to embrace individuality and incorporate self-expression into their dances. In the 1930’s, jazz music evoked its listeners to get up and start swing dancing. Geared towards the youth of America, swing dancing provided syncopation and thrill. The Lindy Hop and Jitterbug are prime examples of dances during the 20’s and 30’s. Though popular among teens, swing dancing was not favored by most adults due to its “wild” movements. A huge sensation of the 1960’s was the dance known as the Twist. This dance was performed with a partner and was basically a swiveling movement of ones hips to match the beat of a song. In the 70’s, hip-hop became recognized in New York City. Hip-hop was not only a form of dance but also a culture or way of life. It was mainly classified as groups of black urban youths. This culture wasn’t officially given a name until the 80’s when Afrika Bambaataa called it Hip-Hop. As this rapidly growing culture burst forth, several categories of dance were formed. Rocking and uprocking were two forms of hip-hop that were a mix of the hustle and salsa. Hip-hop focused on feeling the pulsing rhythm and using creativity to express oneself through the dance.
Though there are numerous other songs and dances that were introduced during this era, the ones listed above illustrate the diversity and creativity that America experienced during the 20th century. From jazz to rock and roll and ballet to hip-hop, Americans received a well-rounded variety of art forms.
1. Who changed jazz music by his ability to sing and play trumpet?
a. Justin Timberlake
b. Louis Armstrong
c. Afrika Bambaataa
d. Neil Armstrong
2. Jazz was given the name “cool” because;
a. It was cold
b. Everyone liked it
c. The tones were smooth
d. Jazz is cool
3. Which type of dance became outdated?
b. Classical ballet
c. The twist
4. Which form of music united whites and blacks?
a. Rock and Roll
1. Jazz. Wikipedia- The Free Encyclopedia. Feb 28 2004. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz#1920s_to_1950s
2. History of Dance. Wikipedia- The Free Encyclopedia. Feb 28 2004. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_dance
3. Arias, Gail. “History of Swing Dance and Music.” Geocites.com. Feb 28 2004. http://www.geocities.com/Broadway/Balcony/1404/history.html
4. Pabon, Jorge. “The History of Hip Hop Dance.” daveyd.com. 1999. e-line productions. Feb 28 2004. http://www.daveyd.com/historyphysicalgrafittifabel.html
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