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Despite the decline of African-American music in 1980s, it remains in the contemporary musical traditions because African-American music is more than art. It is also a historical and cultural phenomenon. It is necessary to mention that music of the USA and Great Britain has an African core. That is why African-American music is still alive and eternal. These were the African slaves who brought rich African culture, music, and traditions in other cultures (Werner, 1939, p. 174).
It means that slavery was a driving force for the unity of music of many cultures. Even after abolishing of slavery, roots of African-American music remain in various musical traditions. It is evident that African-American music is the driving force of the contemporary music, and this essay will reveal the necessary proofs. Moreover, African-American music should be revitalized. That is why this essay will reveal the main points of revitalizing of Black bands in American music.
“Ralph Ellison called the underlying ‘impulses’ of African-American culture: blues, gospel and jazz” (Werner, 1939, p. 172). It means that African-American music exists but not everybody wants to admit it. However, is it possible to imagine music without blues, gospel or jazz? It seems to be impossible as these music styles add diversity, originality, and classicism to any music work. Another issue appears that many people do not know that they perform or simply listen to African-American music. That is why it is necessary to study African-American music at schools, colleges, and universities as a driving force of the contemporary music.
Having studied profiles of the artists who have successfully made adjustments to changing times in their sound, style, image, and use of technology (Louis Armstrong, Jackie Wilson, Chuck Berry, Louis Jordan, Little Richard), it is evident that they are legendary representatives of African-American music. A person that does not want to admit their talent does not admit the existence of African-American music. At the concerts, one should underline that the music work of African-American culture will be performed. Racial labels should not prevent the development of musical American nation. African-American music cannot be labeled as it is characterized by the variety of styles and their constant improvements. Moreover, one cannot say that African-American music can exist separately from other international music styles as all styles of Black music were derived from the blues (Maultsby, 1979, p. 39).
Studying African-American music, one can say that it is a combination of jazz, blues, rhythm, souls, and funk. Such variety of music genres advocates African-American music and puts it in the equal conditions with American or British music. In the present times, there are many African-American rappers, singers, pianists, composers, jazz singers, and bands.
50 Cent, James Brown, Destiny's Child, Akon, and George Clinton are the most popular representatives of African-American music. Without a doubt, they are talented but cannot be put in the same line with Luis Armstrong. Musical critics state that modern African-American music is deprived of ragtime blues, bass grooves, funk, and jazz. It means that African-American musicians deprive their music of their native traditions and music styles making it similar with other cultures. For being genuine and original, African-American musicians and bands should not forget their national identity.
“Black music continues to reflect and shape what Amiri Baraka called ‘the changing same’ of an increasingly complicated and diverse African-American community” (Werner, 1939, p. 174). It means that African-American music has all chances for revitalization through the development of genuine and talented musicians like Louis Armstrong.
Without a doubt, the past of African-American music was more optimistic and brighter than its present. All hopes are for the future of Black music. Black music exists in all its forms, but it needs admitting and commitment of African-American musicians. It is necessary to mention that Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly, Aretha, Mahalia, Ella Baker, Malcolm and Martin are new souls of African-American music who remember their traditions and ancestors. They are able “to look a brutal history in the eyes like blues; to transcend it like gospel; to find new ways to confound it like jazz” (Werner, 1939, p. 190). This statement gives a hope for the future of Black music. Without a doubt, brutal history of African-American culture influenced its development and place in the community, but the modern generation should not repeat mistakes of its ancestors who subdued Afro-American people making their slaves (Baraka, 1979, p. 15).
To my mind, Luis Armstrong is the brightest representative of African-American music. He was a genius, a true revolutionary in the creation of music. He introduced innovations in jazz music making it more melodic, brighter and rhythmic. Jazz music of Luis Armstrong was a new type of consciousness not only in the cultural aspect but also in the social one. His music proved that African-Americans needed cardinal changes and admitting by other nations and cultures.
One can compare Luis Armstrong with Einstein, Eliot, Freud, and James Joyce despite the fact that he was a musician. Besides, Luis Armstrong had persuaded the whole world that African-American music was a driving force of the contemporary music. Moreover, he is considered to be an architect of modern consciousness and culture. Inventive musical mind, quick and amazing rhythm, spontaneity, joy and technical abilities of Luis Armstrong still dominate to this day. What a Wonderful World, Go Down, Moses, and Hello Dolly are the masterpieces even at the present time.
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This essay will dwell on the song What a Wonderful World by Luis Armstrong. This is a jazz work. It creates the festive and elevated atmosphere; and one feels himself or herself as if he or she was in the wonderful world of music. What a Wonderful World makes the listeners be absorbed in the world of music, creates a magic and festive atmosphere, and encourages the listeners to love life. This work is very gentle and emotional. It is classical and harmonic. The melody is rhythmic, but this rhythm is unusual. The dynamics of this work is quiet and gentle.