Expressionism Versus Jazz

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Reflection Activity: Expressionist Music and Jazz
Expressionism is an artistic movement that stresses intense and subjective emotion. Artists that use expressionism usually focus on their inner feelings instead of depicting outward appearances. Expressionism is an art concerned with social protest. Some characteristics of expressionist music are that it is episodic with a fragmentary form. It involves a great emotional magnitude. Also, it is discontinuous. Most expressionist works stress harsh dissonance and fragmentation. They also take advantage of extreme registers and unusual instrumental effects. Some examples of expressionist compositions are Pierrot lunaire by Arnold Schoenberg, A Survivor from Warsaw also by Arnold Scheonberg, the opera Wozzeck by Alban Berg, and Five Pieces of Orchestra by Anton Webern. Arnold Schoenberg’s music is emotionally intense and has a literary program. The major center of jazz was New Orleans, which was the home of important jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong, Ferdinand Morton, and Joseph Oliver. Jazz in the New Orleans style was played by a small group of five to eight performers. The melodic instruments that were played in New Orleans style are the cornet, clarinet, and trombone. The melodic instrument players would improvise several contrasting melodic lines at the same time, which produced a polyphonic texture. This collective improvisation was the most distinguishing feature of New Orleans Jazz. The cornet in the New Orleans style was the leader and it played variations of the main melody. The clarinet produced a countermelody, which is usually played at a faster rhythm. The trombone played a bass line that was simpler than the upper lines. The different rhythms and independence of the rhythms created a sense of excitement in New Orleans style. One representative work of New Orleans style is Dippermouth Blues by King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band. This is a good example because it is based on the chord progression of 12-bar...
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