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Blacks and Pre-Jazz Instrumental Music in America

Brian Klitz
International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music
Vol. 20, No. 1 (Jun., 1989), pp. 43-60
DOI: 10.2307/836550
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/836550
Page Count: 18
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Blacks and Pre-Jazz Instrumental Music in America
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Abstract

When the Civil War ended and slaves became - in theory at least - free black Americans, they were hardly prepared to cope with a society that had for the most part prevented them from acquiring more than the most menial skills. Among those who "were" allowed to exercise their individuality, however, were some relatively few slaves who had been encouraged to take up instruments because it was to the advantage of slave owners to have resident ensembles to perform for entertainment and dancing. Blacks participated willingly because it was one of the few professions not dominated by white society, and because it offered them a possible vehicle for upward mobility and professional success. As a result, these black musicians became the fountainhead for what many view as America's most original contribution to music: instrumental jazz.

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