Influential Music And Musicians During The Harlem Renaissance

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Influential music and musicians during the Harlem renaissance


The Harlem Renaissance was emerged in the year 1917 originally by the name of “Negro Renaissance”. It is also known as the splendid era of African-American art because of success it got through the joined effort of black and white which improved the African American race relations through poetry, prose, drama, art and music. The Harlem Renaissance got familiarity at the national level and received recognition in an event called “Salute to America's authors in the white house”. “The Harlem Renaissance introduced a new way of playing piano which was named as Harlem stride style and the purpose of which was to shorten the differences between the poor and elite Negros” (Shae & Irving, p.68). This was the time when the style of music of blacks became more and more attractive to whites. Even the novelists, dramatists and composers, started to include the African-American music in their work. The influence of slavery experience, emerging of African-American folk traditions and the desire to explore the black life in urban north areas were also resulted in some common themes during the Harlem Renaissance.


Emergence of Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissances emerged immediately after the World War I in the year 1917 with concurrent of jazz. Around 5 million African-Americans moved from the rural south region to the urban north area. Critics describe this migration as the rise of middle class black people in the main U.S cities. Studies explore that the emergence of Harlem Renaissance was due to the cultural and social changes that took place in the United States earlier in the 20th century. World war I was one of the factors that were the reasons of the emergence of Harlem Renaissance, other contributing factors include; industrialization that attracted people from rural areas because of the work opportunities that were created. “The emergence seems to be rapid because of the fact that there had been a fewer number of music produced prior to the Harlem Renaissance after which a huge number of music and musicians appeared in a short span of time” (Lewis p.15). At the same time, it had been analyzed that the Harlem Renaissance provided a platform, to the blacks to reveal identify, when they migrated to America, they used the art especially music to portray their identity and values. He further expressed that the Harlem Renaissance eventually evolved in three phases starting from the work of Jean Toomer who composed a poem “Cane” which was highly appreciated by the white people. The second phase was from 1926 to 1929 in which the African-American Talented Tenth collaborated with Zora Neale Hurston's “Negrotarian”. It was one of the primary African-American involvement which mainly dependent on the black personals like patrons and business men. But it was not wholly dependent on the blacks, some white Americans such as Carl Van Vechten and Chalotte Osgood Mason also provided immense support specially for publication, which otherwise would have restrained the blacks.

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