New Orleans the Birthplace of Jazz

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New Orleans is one of the most fabulous cities that attract tourists from around the world. Its unique flavor of mixing culture, food, and music makes people consider New Orleans their first destination to spend their vacation. New Orleans is well known for its popular culture and rich historical places. I still remember my first trip to New Orleans was in 2012. After a long and arduous semester ended, my friend and I decided to travel and enjoy our break in New Orleans. It was a great trip. The spirit of joy and passion overwhelm the atmosphere of the city. We realized several styles of music played everywhere: jazz, blues, rhythms, and other traditional music. The reason behind that, New Orleans exposed to several factors that contribute to the formation of different styles of music, especially jazz, and identify New Orleans as a home of music. New Orleans becomes the center of American musicians and the birthplace of jazz that joins people of different ethnicity, race, and gender together. Referring to history, in the18th c, Before Louisiana became under the United States control, it was a colony first by France and then Spain (Matt Sakakeeny, New Orleans Music as a Circulatory System, 295). These Europeans catholic gave African slaves Sunday as a day rest. The slaves gathered in an open area outside the city on Rampart Street north the French Quarter, which later became known as Congo Square. In the gathering, they were playing music with local instrument, singing religious songs, and dancing voodoo circle dance. In the dance, they expressed their spiritual traditions through clapping, shouting, and singing folklore songs. Also, they were allowed to sell food and handmade exchange goods as a way to buy their freedom from the slave entrepreneurs. This process was called coartacion that the court established this system as a legalized way of slave’s freedom.

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The African dancing and music become a tradition that spread in several areas in Louisiana. As New Orleans grew in population, the practice of Congo square dancing continued until the end of the 18th C. It engaged not only African slaves, but also free people of color, mixed-race Creoles, Latin American and the Caribbean who fled from the Haitian Revolution sharing the unique racial dance. This significant outflow brought several musical influences to Congo Square, which became the musical heart of New Orleans. The gathering in the Congo Square becomes a significant soundscape for the suppressed and marginalized people who came to share their suffering, desires of freedom, and sorrows. The Sunday dancing and music enabled the African slaves to practice their rituals and traditional music as well as transform their sad situation into a joyful gathering. The musical rhythm and the body movements enabled the African slaves to forget their sorrows and increase the hormones of happiness in their blood. Black music and dance do not only represent an African American phenomenon, but the others African diasporic cultures and people of color. The gathering and music become a symbol of unity and a process of psychological healing the slaves’ pain. In Listening in Detail Performances of Cuban Music (2013), Alexandra Vazquez in her fantastic book suggests the same situation that gathering especially for Cuban who lives in ruptures around the United Satiates as a method of recovering and healing their pain through music (227).

Congo Square becomes a famous destination that attracts visitors of the city for enjoying the African music and dancing. During the Civil War, African slaves and free people of color gathering was restricted by legislators that led the great phenomena of Sunday in Congo Square to disappear. But that restriction did not prevent African people and other free people of color from celebrating their identity through music. The celebration moved to indoor by establishing musical clubs of jazz and several meeting places that enable musicians to practice their traditions. The growing number of musicians in New Orleans, which became home of music, led to open a famous Opera House which welcomes all people without any exception. Sakakeeny assures that The Formative Years, 17911841 includes descriptions of opera houses with seating for whites, free people of color and slaves (306). Even though African Americans exposed to several political rules that controlled their freedom, they usually find a way to express their identity in the society in several forms: singing songs, dancing, or telling folktales. Here, the Sunday dancing and music allowed slaves to escape from limitations for one day and practice their cultural heritage. Jennifer Stoever in her fabulous book, The Sonic Color Line Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening, implies that [] sonic politics, [she] argues, profoundly impacted the ability of black people, indigenous peoples, immigrants, and colonized people to claim, enact, and sound their rights in American life [](32). Jazz music becomes culturally circulated in New Orleans pass from one generation to another. At the beginning of the twentieth century, musicians who were from different ethnicities, African Americans, mixed-race Creoles, and European Americans, formulated a brass band that performed jazz, especially in funeral processions that later known as jazz funeral or second line.

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New Orleans The Birthplace of Jazz. (2020, Mar 10). Retrieved November 29, 2022 , from
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