Free «Louis Armstrong» Essay Sample

Luis Armstrong, Satchmo, or Pops as his peers commonly referred to him was a Jazz musician from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was a trumpet player, a singer, and a bandleader; he is widely regarded as one of the best and most influential singer in the history of Jazz music. Armstrong often stated that he was born on July 4 1900; this is the birth date, which has been included in most bibliographies. However, his actual date of birth had not been established with certainty until August 4, 1901, when his actual birth date was discovered from his baptismal records. Armstrong was a descendant of African slaves, and was born and grew up in abject poverty in “Back of the Town,” a poverty-stricken Uptown New Orleans neighborhood. New Orleans was a culturally diverse neighborhood, which comprised a unique blend of music such as Creole, rhythm and blues, marching bands, and ragtime (Gitler, 1987). Therefore, it can be argued that Armstrong had an early initiation into music from an early age. Despite the cultural diversity, by New Orleans neighborhood, Armstrong lived in dire poverty, and suffered the tribulations of all youngsters from poor backgrounds at the time; for instance, he was sent to a reform school at 12 years of age after firing in the air during New Years Eve celebrations (Gitler, 1987). His tribulations were worsened at a tender age when his father abandoned them and married another woman. His mother also abandoned them and left them for a responsibility for their grandmother, Josephine Armstrong, who at times took care of them with the help of their uncle Isaac.

Despite the numerous challenges, Armstrong rose to become the greatest and the most influential Jazz musician; he defines the history of Jazz music. His influence in Jazz music is evident to date. He had excellent technical abilities, sang joyfully and spontaneously. He was also amazingly fast with an inventive musical mind. His musical capabilities are only comparable to Charlie Parker, another legendary Jazz musician. He learned to play the cornet at the age of 14 years when he was at school. He sold papers, unloaded boats, and sold coal  to sustain his life (Eric 109). At the time, he did not own any musical instrument; however, he was a keen listener of band such as Funky Butt Hall. Armstrong acquired his first lessons in Jazz music from Joe King Oliver, who gave him his first musical instrument, a cornet. In his early Jazz career, Armstrong was a member of Kid Ory's New Orleans groups and later with Fate Marable's band in St. Louis. In 1922, he migrated north to Chicago and joined Oliver's Creole Jazz Band but for a short period (Brock, 1999). He later left Joe’s band to establish his sole career, and from New York to Los Angeles, he teamed up with several prominent Jazz bands and blues singers. His musical recordings show tours promoted Jazz music from a regional form of art to the African and national production. By the end of 1930s, Armstrong with the Orchestra band marshaled the Siwng Era, and Armstrong was the earliest Jazz musician to attain national stardom. However, he died in 1971.

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Despite Armstrong being the most renowned Jazz musician, his musical style began in the 20th century from the African American communities in the Southern part of the United States. The music originates from a blend of African and European music traditions. It started out with the mixing of varieties of music. The combination of American communities and African music resulted to its birth. Its place of birth was known as New Orleans and the name came up because of black Creole subculture. The creoles used their formal knowledge from western European music. Hence, they rose to upper class. The uneducated and economically poor Americans live on the west of New Orleans; simple melodies and complex cross-rhythms with a mixture of vibrato, verbal slurs, and blues notes defined their music. They sang gospel music to pass the time during their hard labor (Teachout, 2009). Their spiritual music was memorized and improvised and was such an inspirational in their hard labors as this soothed them; hence, they felt encouraged (Lincoln 160). The segregation laws in 1894 affected the upper class and, they were forced to move to the west and, this resulted to a mixture of both the uneducated American blacks with the Creoles. Jazz was created because of the clash between the two styles of music. Since then, jazz has taken many different forms. Some forms developed as many people shook off stress by dancing (Collier, 1985). 

In conclusion, the instruments used in playing Jazz are known as saxophones, drums and electric guitar, which are played in specific pitches that crate chords. Jazz has become more popular these days with the great mixture of rhythm and beats (Teachout, 2009). This is remarkable indeed, as Jazz will exist forever. However, Jazz music cannot be of any importance without consideration of its melodies and harmony. The process of improvisation creates melodies and they are normally endless. This ensures they are coherent and emotionally involving. They are divided into phases that are self-contained often sung in one breath. Melodies often use stepwise notes. Harmony in Jazz, on the other hand, entails skips in between notes, and this produces a chord when played simultaneously which is the unit of harmony. Rhythms in Jazz music should change, as it is the important tool for jazz performance.

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