Call and Response (AtoZ Challenge 2016 – Jazz Age Jazz)

Call and Response (Jazz Age Jazz Series) Characteristic of the African music, call-and-responce is a defineing characteristic of jazz, what makes the interaction between audience and performers so tight and fruitful

Jazz Age Jazz - Call And Responce

JAZZ AGE JAZZ - Call and Response #AtoZChallenge #jazz as a strong communal creation Click To Tweet

C (AtoZ Challenge 2016)

Call-and-response is one of the most defining characteristics of jazz, one that comes stright out of the music’s African origin.
In the work songs there would be a leader calling a line and a group responding to that line. So in jazz (especially early jazz) there would be an instrument proposing a melody and the other instruments would respond to it, would improvise around it.

But call-and-response went beyond the bandstand. The same way musicians influenced and prompted each other, so would the public. The audience’s reaction was vital to the performance because musicians would improvise on the base of audience’s input.
This was particularly true when people danced to jazz music. Dancers would react to the music, improvising new steps, and musicians would catch the new steps, their rhythm, and improvise new music on that.
Jazz was a very strong communal creation any way you looked at it, still how tcall-and-response was understood and practiced was always one of the things that most distinguished black from white jazz in America.

St Louis Cotton Club Band (Missouri 1925)

St. Louis Cotton Club Band Jazz Postcard Photo: Block Bros Studio, 1925 Missouri

White jazz was not only more mellow compared to the hot black jazz, it was also consumed in a more ‘European’ way. There would always be an invisible line between musicians and audience that was very seldom crossed.
In black establishments, the public would participate in the performance and would actually influenced it. In addition to communal creation of music between musicians and dancers, listeners would often comment the music and would protest loudly if they didn’t like it, or cheer hotly when they did like it. Throwing objects to the band to signal the audience’s displeasure wasn’t unheard of.
White establishments tried to adapt a more direct enjoyment of jazz by trying to blur the barrier between audience and performers, for example by bringing the show on the dance floor, on the same level as the audience. Dancers would often move among the tables, the audience was encouraged to show their appreciation or displeasure by clapping their hands or banging cutlery on the tables. But it always remained, at heart, a very different kind of involvement than the African American version.

 

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RESOURCES

Ogren, Kathy J., The Jazz Revolution. Twenties America and the Meaning of Jazz. Oxford University Press, New York, 1989

Jazz in America – African music

 

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About the Author

jazzfeathers
I was born, raised and I still live near Verona (Italy), though I worked for a time in Dublin. I started writing fantasy stories as a kid. Today I’m a bookseller who reads fantasy, history, mythology, anthropology and lots of speculative fiction. Somehow, all of this has found its way into my own dieselpunk stories.

38 Comments on "Call and Response (AtoZ Challenge 2016 – Jazz Age Jazz)"

  1. Interesting – I hadn’t appreciated that difference before – there is a similar difference between Gospel and ‘European’ church music.
    Sophie
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X
    Sophie Duncan recently posted…Murder Most Foul! – C is for Conflict – Cozy Mystery #AtoZChallenge 2016My Profile

    • That’s probably a difference that exist in all call-and-responce kinds of music in comperison to ‘European’ music. I suppose it’s a cultural difference.

  2. Black Jazz sounds much more interesting than White Jazz. I did not realise there were such big differences between the way audiences appreciated the art.
    Tasha
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)
    Tasha recently posted…C – Hugh Crain & Sir Simon de Canterville – Fictional Phantoms #AtoZChallenge 2016My Profile

    • I’ve seen it live just when I was reserching jazz for my story. A friend of mine invited me to a concert where her husband played. He had just entered a gospel group (all kids in comparison to him and all from Nigeria, he’s the only Italian).
      There were both Italian and Africans of different nationality in the audience, I saw we reacted in different ways and immediately I was reminded of the call-and-responce.
      And by the way, it was a fantastic concert. Those kids rocked!

  3. C is definitely for Cotton Club! Audiences call the shots in Call-and-Response, I like that concept. Also that the musicians would improvise based on the audience response. Takes a special talent to change up a routine according to nightly whims.
    Thanks for visiting by site for C-Day, Sarah!

    Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
    C is for Chili Wisconsin-Style (and Characters taking over)
    Gail M Baugniet recently posted…C is for CHILI, WISCONSIN-STYLEMy Profile

    • Many I’ve read said that difining jazz is basically impossible (Louis Armstrong said that if you have to ask what it is, you’ll never know), but all agreed that call-and-response is a defining element of jazz.
      It’s really a very special music 🙂

  4. I love this post~ Great video-I love that song~
    Cheers, to you! This post makes me wanna dance-thank you~

    • Happy you liked it.
      Finding videos for my osts is one of my favourite activities for this challenge. I’m discovering so many songs I like 🙂

  5. We definitely need more jazz clubs in Serbia 🙂

  6. Interesting, unique and brave analysis of the differences in Jazz types. I do really enjoy Call and Response music.

  7. Interesting! I knew that jazz has very strong African-American roots, but I didn’t realize there was this distinction between the way they played compared to white musicians. I’m really enjoying this Jazz history on your blog!
    Modern Gypsy recently posted…{C} Collecting supplies: A round-up of some basic suppliesMy Profile

  8. This post has put me in a very happy mood 🙂 Great info and a wonderful video to top it up!

  9. I am really enjoying your theme! And learning quite a bit, too!
    Thank you for that..
    Mary Burris recently posted…#AtoZChallenge C is for Colbie CaillatMy Profile

  10. Great article, Sarah. I’m enjoying this series, thank you.

    Happy A to Z!

    Laura

  11. What a great post! I love music from the 1920’s to 1940’s. Thank you so much for sharing, and warm greetings from Montreal, Canada. 🙂

  12. Your posts are great lessons in Jazz music and its history. Am enjoying your series!
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…Compassion #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2ZMy Profile

  13. Very interesting post. We have a small jazz club near us but I haven’t been in years–and yeah, it’s a pretty sedate audience, come to think of it!

    • The beauty of jazz is that there is nothing sure. Anything can change for the slightest event of happening. I think this is what makes jazz (which is undoubtedly a very definite cultural and historical experience) so universal 🙂

  14. I always have a very hard time “politely” listening to any music 😀 Once I was at a jazz concert on campus, and I kept moving to the music, and an American student next to me finally turned to me and said “You are not from around here, are you?” 😀

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary
    MopDog
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  15. Great addition to the Jazz theme. Liked the video attached. How those dancers did the jump-splits, or those split-slides without killing themselves is beyond me.
    Jeffrey Scott recently posted…Nostalgia TV – CMy Profile

  16. Yet another thing I’ve learned about jazz! I’m learning a lot from this theme, actually!
    Megan Morgan recently posted…C – CharacterizationMy Profile

  17. I remember seeing this in some old cartoons as a child. Never really thought about it but the music was a lot more entertaining and interactive that way. Blog: QueendSheena .
    Sheena-kay Graham recently posted…DivergentMy Profile

  18. I love how call & response has endured as music has evolved. It’s the easiest way to hear the influence of jazz in modern music.

  19. Dearie, I am amazed at the different faucets that make Jazz what it is.
    I am so enjoying these lessons!
    Thank you

    Sir Leprechaunrabbit
    @leprchaunrabbit
    yourrootsareshowingdearie.wordpress.com
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