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5 Ways Jazz Influenced Our World

In collaboration with Jeroen Hamelink - Records / Vinyl Expert


Good music does not have an expiration date. Jazz developed in the United States of America around the 1920s and is still popular today. It is a difficult genre to describe, but so very recognisable. Perhaps Art Blakely put it best, “jazz washes away the dust of everyday life.” Although we are all familiar with this genre of music, do we realise just how much influence jazz has had on modern life? Keep reading to discover how jazz has influenced and continues to influence our world.

Jazz Influences Your Brain
According to psychology experts, jazz can reduce your stress level. Stress is the arch enemy of memory, but this monster can be defeated by listening to jazz. It can help you study or learn a new skill. Plus, listening to jazz is fun! Its roots are in the music of 19th-century American slaves for whom music was often an emotional relief. Jazz is a stimulant as well. Many areas of the jazz musician’s brain are stimulated while playing, he or she must think critically and creatively. The musician must use their technical knowledge of playing their instrument while they are also challenged to listen to their fellow performers and collaborate in the performance.


Jazz Influenced Modern Music
Jazz developed further in the 20th century, mostly in African-American communities in the southern United States. Because of the popularity and energy, jazz has been absorbed by other genres as well, including pop, rock, and hip-hop. Freestyle rap, in which the singer improvises lyrics, parallels the improvisation of jazz musicians. Pop singers perform with jazz musicians as well, think of Beyonce for example.


Jazz Influenced Literature
During the 1920s, poets such as T.S. Elliot, Carl Sandburg, and E.E. Cummings were writing with less formality and less regard for conventional style. Poetry was evolving at the same time as jazz was increasing in popularity. The two art forms took note of each other’s style and came together to form jazz poetry, which not only contained literal references to jazz, but mimicked the style of the music as well.


Jazz Influenced Fashion
Flappers used jazz as a means of rebelling against society, and since jazz is such danceable music, the clothing needed to match. Pre-war Victorian styles were not conducive to dancing, so the uprise of jazz led to a change in the fashion industry as well. First, the drop-waist was introduced and later dresses with no waistline at all were all in style. Not only clothes, but also hairstyles were affected. The bob style grew increasingly more popular than long hair because, just as looser fitting clothes, dancing was easier with shorter hair.


Jazz Influenced Society
After the war, women wanted to be seen as individuals outside of their traditional familial roles as wives and daughters. Jazz provided them with an outlet. Jazz also provided jobs for women in the music industry and allowed social acceptance of female musicians. As we said before, fashion was changing, and the younger generation was on board with the new look. Advertisers picked up on this trend, and during the 1920s more fashion magazines were sold to women than ever before. Jazz also made African-American culture something desirable, bringing it from the bottom to the top, and giving jobs to black musicians. Jazz originated from the music of American slaves and to some is it a reminder of oppressive times, but to others, it is the beginning of recognition for the black history and culture in America.


Jazz music is the language of emotions according to Charles Mingus. If the music speaks to you, have a look at our special monthly Blues, Soul, Jazz & Funk auction to discover that record album that will complete your collection and lift your spirits.

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