What are the five cultures present in New Orleans
How it all comes together In the late 1800s New Orleans could only be described as a “party town”. Being at the mouth of the Mississippi, it was a flourishing center for trade, a seaport for travelers, and a strategic military base. All of these people wanted to party. There were numerous taverns, dance halls and a thriving prostitution district known as “Storyville”. This massive party atmosphere created a need for many, many dance bands and musicians. All these musicians were pushed to co me up with something new and fresh every day. This music was created for dancers. Originally the music was constructed to accompany dances such as the mazurka, schottische, quadrille and the one -step. The constant need for something new and exciting drove the development of this new style which became known as Jazz (Originally “Jass”). Another important aspect in the development of jazz has to do with the Creoles and African musicians.
The Creole culture was a highly developed European lifestyle. They had their own Opera House and hospitals staffed with Creole doctors. “Creoles of Color” enjoyed all the same rights and respect as white Creoles. There was virtually no distinction. They were business owners, doctors, lawyers, musicians and even slave -owners. Before 1894 the Creoles and the whites would play the “high society” upper class jobs. After the Civil War the federal government supervised the “reconstruction”. New voting right and civil liberties were granted to blacks and enforced by federal troops. In 1877 these troops were withdrawn and a series of highly discriminatory laws were passed by the still angry southerners. These have become known as the “Jim Crow” laws. One of these, Legislative Code No. 111, passed in 1894, declared that anyone with ev en the slightest bit of black ancestry would be considered black and therefore subject to the new legal discrimination. Overnight the Creoles of color lost all of their status and right. The Creole musicians were forced to take “gigs” that only the poor bl acks had taken before. The Creoles were highly trained and skilled in European music. Creole musicians ended up playing with the black musicians in whorehouses, juke joints and honky tonks. Initially, there was open hostility and competition between the t wo groups, but eventually they began to appreciate and assimilate each other’s styles. Blacks started to learn how to read music and understand music theory. Creoles started to play the blues and embellish melodies. This was truly the collision of music cu ltures in which jazz was born. Summary New Orleans has a long history of different cultures living and working together in a relatively close environment. The mixing of the basic European music culture and styles with the African music culture and styles provide a stark contrast of approaches and uses for music. The blues, a result of African music culture applied in Southern USA, the Brass bands of cities and Civil War regiments, and Ragtime syncopated piano music, all combine to provide elements of trad itional jazz. The party atmosphere of New Orleans provides opportunities for musicians. The “Jim Crow” laws of post reconstruction force the intermingling of skilled Creole musicians with black blues musicians in the seedy sections of New Orleans. This st ew of different cultures and approaches to music along with the need for energetic, happy dance music leads to the birth of jazz.