Jazz is a style of music that spread in popularity like wild fire in the 1920s and virtually redefined culture in that time frame.
Apearl Mitchell's insight:
Jazz is a style of music that spread in popularity like wild fire in the 1920s and virtually redefined culture in that time frame. But is was the 1930s when we saw jazz begin to "grow up", diversify and become a mature art form that could adapt and spread into all other genres of music as well. Some have called jazz the premier unique musical art form of American culture. The jazz musical genre certainly deserves that title because it is a music that brings with it the history of not one people but many people and a music that creates culture wherever it goes. That is certainly a very American trait.
Jazz actually sprung from communites that thrived in the south and primarily in the African American community. New Orleans was a cultural hot bed where the earliest recognizable forms of jazz music took shape. It was here that Caribbean music blended with European composition and southern blues to produce this very unique musical form known as jazz.
Because jazz rose up from "unacceptable" segments of society, it was considered dangerous and even subversive even into the 1920s when the popularity of jazz music literally exploded. The 1920s is when jazz migrated to the big cultural centers of the north such as New York and Chicago. And while jazz continued to be associated with wild and debauched lifestyles, there is no question that it defined the decade and changed everything about the culture of the time from music to art and fashion. Dixieland jazz grew as one of the most popular sub-genres of jazz as the depression era approached.
The 1930s saw jazz begin to makes inroads into mainstream music. The music industry could no longer ignore the importance of jazz because it was so popular particularly with young people on the campuses of American colleges and high schools. Slowly but surely, the music industry introduced the seductive music of jazz to older generations and to the white population of the country as well.
But the popularization of jazz also diluted the pure forms that made the musical genre so intoxicating in the first place. Dixieland jazz had a very unique style and structure that put a great deal of emphasis on the individual performers each of which was given their time to perform improvisational solos that could go on for as long as the musician felt moved to keep playing. As jazz became more broadly accepted and more commercial as well, the unpredictable and "wild " nature of the music began to tame.
The impact of the Great Depression on 1930s music meant that those jazz performers who could draw from a larger audience would be the ones to succeed or at least survive. The most commonly heard form of the genre was "sweet" jazz as opposed to the "hot" jazz of the 1920s. Sweet jazz was more disciplined and brought in other instruments like violins to make it easier for a broader audience to appreciate. While this made jazz a music that became popular for the entire population, it did not sit well with hot jazz devotees and their performers like Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Jimmie Lunceford.
The big band era which dominated the 1930s music scene incorporate jazz into a more palatable format but did so while integrating other forms popular music in their sets. Because big bands were able to offer the skills of dozens of jazz performers in one band, it was a great method for giving employment to struggling musicians while giving audiences an even greater exposure to a wide variety of talents and musical styles.
We can think of 1930s as the decade that jazz became civilized, sophisticated and popular throughout the culture. The outcome was that jazz evolved and began to merge with many musical forms. That evolution continues to this day, which demonstrates the versatility of jazz music to adapt to culture and reflect the outlook of culture back on its listeners as well. Because 1930s jazz forced the format to "grow up", it also assured that jazz would continuously change and grow as the country grows. But also insured that jazz would be a musical style that would continue to be part of the American culture forever.
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Extraordinary crises which challenge the human spirit also inspire many of its most enduring monuments. Each day millions of Americans use public buildings, parks and roads built some 60 years ago in public works projects of a scope unsurpassed in our nation's history. We still enjoy the fiction of John Steinbeck, films of Frank Capra, and populist-themed symphonic works of Aaron Copeland and Roy Harris. All these works -- the art no less than the public buildings -- came to life in response to the Great Depression. It was a time of both agony and exuberance, an era when creative enthusiasm seemed to outweigh the burdens of poverty and the specter of impending war. Of all America's periods of crisis, the Depression is the one we look to with greatest pride and with the fondest hope of inspiring us to vanquish similar challenges today.
Collected here is representative music of the Great Depression. In it you'll hear echoes of emotions ranging from despair to exuberance from a very different America still living in memory for many of us.
We are lucky to have much of it, given the economic devastation visited on the recording industry by the Depression. The sale of an estimated 104 million records in 1927 plummeted to a mere 6 million in 1932.
Recording activity surged again when 'swing' became the craze of mid-1930s youth culture, and this collection evidences notable recordings waxed even in the torpid lull of 1931-1934. The range of material reflects an America which was scarcely homogeneous, and whose diversity was targeted by record companies with everything from Delta blues to sophisticated swing. Lyrics, as much as styles, paint the era's portrait: along with song celebrations of heroes like Joe Louis and employment offered by the National Recovery Administration, there are hopeful fantasies of love and prosperity offered by Tin Pan Alley craftsmen. Their songs were popularized by both radio crooners and spectacular movie musicals. "A nation in crisis had become the songwriter's golden opportunity," wrote Patricia Dubin McGuire in her biography of her father, Lullaby Of Broadway: Life And Times of Al Dubin (Citadel Press, 1983, Secaucus, NJ). Along with composer Harry Warren, Dublin supplied songs to many of the Depression-era Busby Berkeley musicals which, his daughter recalled, "helped many people forget about the grimness of unemployment, overdue bills and unpaid rent, if only for an hour." The problems plague us still, but perhaps the vitality of these Depression-era songs will encourage us to persevere, as it did the Americans of that time.
How Have You Been? I have been thinking about you very much lately. I miss you very much I wish I could come and see you soon when this is all over and done with. I still remember that awful day were everything went wrong. I don’t think anyone could forget that day that The Great Depression happened.
I’m in a state of disbelief everyone around me is panicking and trying to find out what is going to happen from here on but this doesn’t seem surreal to me at all. It feels like a horrible dream that I keep dreaming over and over again. I hope this depression never happens again because it was a sad, sad time in our history.
The Stock Market Crash happened for a reason but some people question why we have to go through this situation when we did not have to in the first place. If everyone came together to help each other and not make so much money for big investments they would not have low stock prices. The investors were not solid in their investments with peoples money so innocent people lost their money. I know my neighbor lost all his money because he did not take his money out of the bank on time. I am glad I took my money out on time or I would be lost. I would not know what to do. I would need to ask you for money!
This was a tragic incident for many families and couples that wanted to give up on the whole idea of trying to live this way. I don’t think many people wanted to live this way or choose to live this way because it is just to hard to live like this that’s why people tried their best to get jobs or stole from stores to survive. Parents wanted to get divorces and commit suicide because it was just too much to handle.
People talk about the past days where everything use to be normal and how it was so much better that way. I think about the past days were children could run around and be children and not worry about whether they had enough food or not to eat the next day. Parents of children tried to make the best of it by trying to find positive reinforcements or entertainment for their families.
Is this depression ever going to end? I think it will eventually but you have to give a problem like this a little time to process what you can learn from it so it won’t happen again but it is possible this could happen again because of the government and people who don’t care about others.
Many people learned how to deal with this problem but it was easier to just quit on yourself and your family because the Great Depression had taken everything away from hard working people who earned every penny from their jobs they had. Now from not having money in their banks they are left trying to make a living of what they have now. Music was the best medicine for this situation. Music was the entertainment for many people who did not know where else to turn to for help so they just had positive attitudes towards the situation on getting better.
Dust Bowls were a major disaster nobody could not grow any crops because of poor land and no food would grow. The Dust storms were so terrible that people decided to go west because they would not make any money for crops that would not grow. The dust was everywhere and caused a lot of trouble towards the people living in this disaster. The dust storms were so bad that many people and animals were covered in dust and needed help to get pulled out of the dust because it was so deep. They had to use long ropes to get them out of the deep dust they were covered in.
You know with those banks closing, there was a lot of crime going on. There were some rumors about a mob and some bank robbers named Bonnie and Clyde. You know, they ended up catching those two and they killed them. They looked happy in the pictures on the paper. Too bad they had to choose the life of crime and die because of it.
I hope the days are going to get better soon but I am not sure what tomorrow is going to bring. I pray that this is the end of this depression because I myself thought this was a never-ending thing. I wish everyone the best and hope to see you while the days become better days that are just around the corner.
The Great Depression was an economic slump in North America, Europe, and other industrialized areas of the world that began in 1929 and lasted until about 1939. It was the longest and most severe depression ever experienced by the industrialized Western world.
Though the U.S. economy had gone into depression six months earlier, the Great Depression may be said to have begun with a catastrophic collapse of stock-market prices on the New York Stock Exchange in October 1929. During the next three years stock prices in the United States continued to fall, until by late 1932 they had dropped to only about 20 percent of their value in 1929. Besides ruining many thousands of individual investors, this precipitous decline in the value of assets greatly strained banks and other financial institutions, particularly those holding stocks in their portfolios. Many banks were consequently forced into insolvency; by 1933, 11,000 of the United States' 25,000 banks had failed. The failure of so many banks, combined with a general and nationwide loss of confidence in the economy, led to much-reduced levels of spending and demand and hence of production, thus aggravating the downward spiral. The result was drastically falling output and drastically rising unemployment; by 1932, U.S. manufacturing output had fallen to 54 percent of its 1929 level, and unemployment had risen to between 12 and 15 million workers, or 25-30 percent of the work force.
The Great Depression began in the United States but quickly turned into a worldwide economic slump owing to the special and intimate relationships that had been forged between the United States and European economies after World War I. The United States had emerged from the war as the major creditor and financier of postwar Europe, whose national economies had been greatly weakened by the war itself, by war debts, and, in the case of Germany and other defeated nations, by the need to pay war reparations. So once the American economy slumped and the flow of American investment credits to Europe dried up, prosperity tended to collapse there as well. The Depression hit hardest those nations that were most deeply indebted to the United States, i.e., Germany and Great Britain. In Germany, unemployment rose sharply beginning in late 1929, and by early 1932 it had reached 6 million workers, or 25 percent of the work force. Britain was less severely affected, but its industrial and export sectors remained seriously depressed until World War II. Many other countries had been affected by the slump by 1931.
Almost all nations sought to protect their domestic production by imposing tariffs, raising existing ones, and setting quotas on foreign imports. The effect of these restrictive measures was to greatly reduce the volume of international trade: by 1932 the total value of world trade had fallen by more than half as country after country took measures against the importation of foreign goods.
The Great Depression had important consequences in the political sphere. In the United States, economic distress led to the election of the Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt to the presidency in late 1932. Roosevelt introduced a number of major changes in the structure of the American economy, using increased government regulation and massive public-works projects to promote a recovery. But despite this active intervention, mass unemployment and economic stagnation continued, though on a somewhat reduced scale, with about 15 percent of the work force still unemployed in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II. After that, unemployment dropped rapidly as American factories were flooded with orders from overseas for armaments and munitions. The depression ended completely soon after the United States' entry into World War II in 1941. In Europe, the Great Depression strengthened extremist forces and lowered the prestige of liberal democracy. In Germany, economic distress directly contributed to Adolf Hitler's rise to power in 1933. The Nazis' public-works projects and their rapid expansion of munitions production ended the Depression there by 1936.
At least in part, the Great Depression was caused by underlying weaknesses and imbalances within the U.S. economy that had been obscured by the boom psychology and speculative euphoria of the 1920s. The Depression exposed those weaknesses, as it did the inability of the nation's political and financial institutions to cope with the vicious downward economic cycle that had set in by 1930. Prior to the Great Depression, governments traditionally took little or no action in times of business downturn, relying instead on impersonal market forces to achieve the necessary economic correction. But market forces alone proved unable to achieve the desired recovery in the early years of the Great Depression, and this painful discovery eventually inspired some fundamental changes in the United States' economic structure. After the Great Depression, government action, whether in the form of taxation, industrial regulation, public works, social insurance, social-welfare services, or deficit spending, came to assume a principal role in ensuring economic stability in most industrial nations with market economies.
News about the Great Depression (1930's). Commentary and archival information about great depression (1930's) from The New York Times.
Apearl Mitchell's insight:
The Great Depression was a worldwide economic crisis that in the United States was marked by widespread unemployment, near halts in industrial production and construction, and an 89 percent decline in stock prices. It was preceded by the so-called New Era, a time of low unemployment when general prosperity masked vast disparities in income.
The start of the Depression is usually pegged to the stock market crash of “Black Tuesday,” Oct. 29, 1929, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell almost 23 percent and the market lost between $8 billion and $9 billion in value. But it was just one in a series of losses during a time of extreme market volatility that exposed those who had bought stocks “on margin” — with borrowed money.
The stock market continued to decline despite brief rallies. Unemployment rose and wages fell for those who continued to work. The use of credit for the purchase of homes, cars, furniture and household appliances resulted in foreclosures and repossessions. As consumers lost buying power industrial production fell, businesses failed, and more workers lost their jobs. Farmers were caught in a depression of their own that had extended through much of the 1920s. This was caused by the collapse of food prices with the loss of export markets after World War I and years of drought that were marked by huge dust storms that blackened skies at noon and scoured the land of topsoil. As city dwellers lost their homes, farmers also lost their land and equipment to foreclosure.
President Herbert Hoover, a Republican and former Commerce secretary, believed the government should monitor the economy and encourage counter-cyclical spending to ease downturns, but not directly intervene. As the jobless population grew, he resisted calls from Congress, governors, and mayors to combat unemployment by financing public service jobs. He encouraged the creation of such jobs, but said it was up to state and local governments to pay for them. He also believed that relieving the suffering of the unemployed was solely up to local governments and private charities.
By 1932 the unemployment rate had soared past 20 percent. Thousands of banks and businesses had failed. Millions were homeless. Men (and women) returned home from fruitless job hunts to find their dwellings padlocked and their possessions and families turned into the street. Many drifted from town to town looking for non-existent jobs. Many more lived at the edges of cities in makeshift shantytowns their residents derisively called Hoovervilles. People foraged in dumps and garbage cans for food.
The presidential campaign of 1932 was run against the backdrop of the Depression. Franklin Delano Roosevelt won the Democratic nomination and campaigned on a platform of attention to “the forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.” Hoover continued to insist it was not the government’s job to address the growing social crisis. Roosevelt won in a landslide. He took office on March 4, 1933, with the declaration that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Roosevelt faced a banking crisis and unemployment that had reached 24.9 percent. Thirteen to 15 million workers had no jobs. Banks regained their equilibrium after Roosevelt persuaded Congress to declare a nationwide bank holiday. He offered and Congress passed a series of emergency measures that came to characterize his promise of a “new deal for the American people.” The legislative tally of the new administration’s first hundred days reformed banking and the stock market; insured private bank deposits; protected home mortgages; sought to stabilize industrial and agricultural production; created a program to build large public works and another to build hydroelectric dams to bring power to the rural South; brought federal relief to millions, and sent thousands of young men into the national parks and forests to plant trees and control erosion.
The parks and forests program, called the Civilian Conservation Corps, was the first so-called work relief program that provided federally funded jobs. Roosevelt later created a large-scale temporary jobs program during the winter of 1933–34. The Civil Works Administration employed more than four million men and women at jobs from building and repairing roads and bridges, parks, playgrounds and public buildings to creating art. Unemployment, however, persisted at high levels. That led the administration to create a permanent jobs program, the Works Progress Administration. The W.P.A. began in 1935 and would last until 1943, employing 8.5 million people and spending $11 billion as it transformed the national infrastructure, made clothing for the poor, and created landmark programs in art, music, theater and writing. To accommodate unions that were growing stronger at the time, the W.P.A. at first paid building trades workers “prevailing wages” but shortened their hours so as not to compete with private employers.
Roosevelt’s efforts to assert government control over the economy were frustrated by Supreme Court rulings that overturned key pieces of legislation. In response, Roosevelt made the misstep of trying to “pack” the Supreme Court with additional justices. Congress rejected this 1937 proposal and turned against further New Deal measures, but not before the Social Security Act creating old-age pensions went into effect.
Brightening economic prospects were dashed in 1937 by a deep recession that lasted from that fall through most of 1938. The new downturn rolled back gains in industrial production and employment, prolonged the Depression and caused Roosevelt to increase the work relief rolls of the W.P.A. to their highest level ever.
Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939 brought declarations of war from France and England, launching the Second World War. Japan had invaded China two years earlier. These escalating wars turned national attention to defense. Roosevelt, who had been re-elected in 1936, sought to rebuild a military infrastructure that had been neglected after World War I. Work on army camps and roads and airfields became a new focus of the WPA as private employment still lagged pre-depression levels. But as the war in Europe intensified with France surrendering to Germany and England fighting on, ramped-up military production began to reduce the persistent unemployment that was the main face of the depression. Jobless workers were absorbed as trainees for defense jobs and then by the draft that went into effect in 1940, when Roosevelt was elected to a third term. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that brought the United States into World War II sent America’s factories into full production and absorbed all available workers.
Despite the New Deal’s many measures and their alleviation of the worst effects of the Great Depression, it was the humming factories that supplied the American war effort that finally brought the Depression to a close. And it was not until 1954 that the stock market regained its pre-Depression levels.
When somebody mentions the 1930’s the first thing that comes to your mind is naturally “ The Great Depression ” but the people's music was important, too. The depression was a time when many people were without jobs. Money and food were scarce, so people looked to music for inspiration. The music of the 1930's wasn’t sad, and depressing like some we have now, it was jazzy, and happy, so it gave people inspiration, and something to cheer them up. The popular kind of music was jazz. The main instruments were piano, clarinet, saxophone, and trumpet. The musicians used improvisation and mutes to make their music happy and exciting.
Music in the 1930’s was very different from our music now. One interesting fact was that in 1936 President Herbert Hoover signed a contract that officially made the “ The Star Spangled Banner ” our national anthem, which you all know was written in 1814 by a man named Francis Scott Key. You can learn more about music, artists, and instruments of the 1930’s in the following sections.
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