Sunday, November 14, 2004


“Music of the 1920’s” was written not only for a music history course, but anyone interested in the influential Jazz age.

I. Introduction of the Jazz Age
II. American music in the 1920’s
III. How music affected culture in the 1920’s
IV. World music in the 1920’s
V. Impact of music from the 1920’s on generations to follow

How Music Affected Culture in the 1920’s

The “Jazz Age” of the 1920’s is the only decade to be nicknamed after the style of music of its era. This is due to the huge relationship between the culture of the 1920’s and jazz music. Also, due to the impact of the “Jazz Age” on American culture, phrases such as the word jazzy have become a common adjective when describing the flair or manner of a person or event. “All that jazz” is also a popular term used to describe miscellaneous events in life, maybe having the same characteristics as jazz music.

In the 1920’s, jazz was entertainment, but it also represented rebellious behavior and biracial culture. Saxophonist Sonny Rollins stated that “jazz has always been a music of integration.” A small number of white listeners enjoyed the styles of Armstrong or Ellington. Likewise, Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman rarely visited black nightclubs. Most musicians in Harlem and on Chicago’s South Side worked for little money while white bands in downtown Manhattan and Chicago made comfortable livings playing black jazz standards. As for the rebellious behavior, the 1920’s was the time of Prohibition. The Prohibition amendment of the 1920s was ineffective because it was unenforceable, it caused the explosive growth of crime, and it increased the amount of alcohol consumption. The crime rate increased because prohibition destroyed legal jobs, created black-market violence, diverted resources from enforcement of other laws, and increased prices people had to pay for prohibited goods.

Jazz was not just music; it was a form of communal expression. In the 1920’s jazz music provided a freedom of expression, musical individuality, and cultural freedom. Jazz music lead to new dances in the 1920’s such as The Charleston, One Step, and Black Bottom. "Moral disaster is coming to hundreds of young American girls," reported the New York American, "through the pathological, nerve-irritating, sex-exciting music of jazz orchestras."

Not only was listening to music in the 1920’s and going to nightclubs popular many people owned pianos, played sheet music, and listened to records. From the drinking, racial issues, dancing, to the freedom of expression, the music of the 1920's impacted peoples lives greatly and influenced their behaviors.

Random Fact: The peanut butter and jelly sandwich became famous in 1922.

Works Cited