America on Record Chapters 5-7 and Ted Vincent’s  The Community that Gave Jazz to Chicago

The Jazz Age developed during the early 1920s, way before I was born.  It reflected the lifestyle and goals of the many people who participated in this era.  In particular the Jazz genre was a breeding ground for many black Americans like Louis Armstrong.  Cities like Chicago and New Orleans were famous for Jazz musicians who started their careers playing in clubs and dance halls.  This was the period of time where lots of creativity both imaginative and perverse took place.  The minstrel shows contained the issue of race and the challenges for the black Americans faced.  The intriguing point I found was that white performers played black roles in these shows.  The application of grease to make them look ‘black’ really spoke volumes to me.  I feel that if that were to occur in today’s society, riots and revolts would take place.

The early 20th century was a time where segregation and racism was the norm.  One of the only small exceptions was Jack Johnson who was a Jazz enthusiast and boxing champion. He was welcoming to both blacks and whites in his establishment (though only for a short awhile as his club failed after a year in 1913) as Ted Vincent explained.  Jack Johnson provided a model of the times as it was hard to have both colors in the same room as a norm during that era. Imagine if segregation was still enacted in the United States today, what would the world be like?  Without the civil rights movement for race, I feel that the course of the 20th century would greatly impact the 21st century.  We might not even get to live to see the first Black president of the United States had it not been for that moment in history which shaped the country it is today.

Moving along to a different tangent now:

With the rise of new craze dances like the cakewalk and the foxtrot also arose new technologies that impacted the world’s entertainment entering the 20th Century.  The rise of the home entertainment system (phonograph and gramophone) came into talk.  It was interesting to read about the times the people enjoyed, from the pioneering phonograph all the way to the radio set and sound on discs.  I applaud all the work the inventors and their staff who worked tirelessly to improve the quality of entertainment.  I also sympathize with the people who had to hand crank the phonographs; it must’ve been tiring just to hear a few minutes of  music.  I appreciate the music systems of today whether it’s a CD player or the iPod, the convenience (portability and no hand cranking) really got me to understand what it took to fully thank the pioneers of the music industry who got to where we are today.

The phonograph and the gramophone were literally competing with one another, one using cylinders, while the latter one used discs.  The numerous styles, formats, and inventions gave customers a variety of choices both in size and in price.

[  I agree with the pricing back then because in today’s society we are exposed to new products and they are almost always at a high price upon first release just like in Edison’s time, then improvements come into existence thus lowering the prices of the older models.  The numerous price levels almost often correlates to the purchase of these products among classes of lower, middle, and upper or the luxury as the text uses.  The luxury classes tend to have the newest products sooner before the lower classes do because they tend to have more expendable income.  The lower classes have to either save up or not get the product while the middle class have the chance to get it eventually providing they save a little money for the product.]

It seemed that the competition between them and among other companies wouldn’t cease to exist.  However, it seems in my opinion, with new research and development, the old technologies slowly will be out of the spotlight by something better and new for consumers to buy.  The rise of new technologies in the late 1920s were developed by Lee DeForest (newsreels before a film), and David Sarnoff (RCA), along with companies such as General Electric inspired a long competition to get for example the coming together of sound and image in a film, and sound on discs. The introduction to radio was a big competitor against Edison and Victor’s companies.  I feel that what those two inventors experienced in those days is also felt by today’s companies preferably the companies who still make the compact disc (CD).  New formats will always take over previous ones but won’t replace them totally.  Businesses had to keep on pace with the changes going on as years go by and the evolution of new formats which could potentially put them out of business or cut short the life of a company.

Here are examples which illustrates some important technological shifts:

(Phonographs & Gramophones (early 1900s) to  Radios Sets and Going to the Movies to watch a Sound film (1930s))

Just like in my time where I grew up buying and owning CD’s: (from CD’s to MP3 Players and iPods, online radio, and advanced cell phones and gaming consoles capable of storing music)


I think some questions to pose after reading this are:

  • Can we adapt to the next technology shift in the coming decade(s)?
  • What changes to the music and film industry will we face come 5, 10, 20 years from now?
  • Will CD’s be around in the coming years or will it continue to hover around until CD players are rendered obsolete?

Feel free to comment and consider the questions I pose for all of you to consider.

Source: Andre Millard Chapters 5-7 (Pages 96-157)

Ted Vincent article : “The Community that Gave Jazz to Chicago”

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