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Diana C

Project Manager, Medieval Praxis Production

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Is jazz a form of popular culture or art culture?

I've been hearing lately on and on the cliche that jazz performers are open minded, friendly and creative in general, while classical musicians are characterized by arrogance and exclusivism - these were the first things I've found and heard about them when I started working in a music and culture association one year ago.

Now I'm doing my license thesis on popular music, trying to find out what do you think and feel about jazz music as a part of our society culture.
A musician with a formal education in music or not, a jazz enthusiastic or not - the way we think or talk about and consume the music reflect our cultural construction.

If you want , you can also complete my questionnaire:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dE9raE5CVzFObjA2YURRbE55WVR1NlE6MQ#gid=0

Thank you!

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  • May 21 2012: I think that creativity, open minded-ness, friendliness, arrogance, and elitism/exclusivism are all traits that all people have to one degree or another, at one time or another, in one venue or another. I have witnessed all of these things in just about every kind of musician.

    I see jazz as an art culure's response to an imposing popular culture; an attempt to retain some sort of human dignity. I think that it's sound is very reflective of the full-throttle idustrialization that was taking place at it's dawn. It seemed to grow and diversify at the same pace. I also think that because much of the globe can relate to this unprecedented idustrialization, it was also very able to process jazz music and admire it's heroes, which earned it a secondary place in popular culture.

    I think that jazz's heroes are admired because thier literal abilities to eloquently improvise through complex changes reflect the 20th century westerner's need to find beauty and cope with the terror and excitement of the quickly changing world.

    The great classical composer must have seen a lot less change around them, but no less strife and injustice. There was no less of a need to create beauty. I think that the great European composers must have felt a great need to catch "lightining in a jar" - which is why they went through painstaking lengths to preserve their works on paper. Had recording exsisted in thier time, everything may have been very different!

    All of that being said, I think that jazz's great contribution is adaptation, whereas classical's was more about the preservation of perfect moments. The latter has no choice but to be discriminating about who it lets in; but that is not arrogance. Adaptation and preservation are just two different things that are needed for different reasons at different times; ideally, I think anybody would want to be able to be able to eloquently deal with changes while preserving who they are.
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      May 30 2012: Thank you , Andrew! Your arguments are pertinent and very helpful :)
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    R H 30+

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    May 5 2012: Stereotypes and cliche' notwithstanding, jazz for me is a different interpretation than classical, and can be both popular and artistic. The free-form, root interpretation of jazz lends itself to such diversity. For me, it is a part of popular culture in that it reflects our desire for freedom and self-expression. It releases us from the constraints of our regimented, organized lives into a world of virtually unrestricted expression. It is artistic not only for the same reasons, but also because it offers a venue for these expressions and the elevation of the human spirit. So for me, in many ways it is both popular and artistic.I tried answering your questionnaire, but it was too involved for me now. I may try again later.
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      May 9 2012: Good point. Your answer made me smile.

      Thank you!
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        R H 30+

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        May 10 2012: Well then, a better reaction than anticipated! Thnx and good luck with the thesis.
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    May 4 2012: In my opinion, there is no hierarchy in culture; music or art.

    There are legends and a myth that go with Jazz (as for all facets of popular music). They have all generally been recounted frequently enough to have become stereotypes.

    I get bored listening to Jazz music but that's largely because I tend to focus on the lyric rather than the music when I listen to a song.

    I have no frame of reference for classical music.

    Popular Music is a near-perfect form of expression and suits the internet craze perfectly.
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      May 9 2012: Thank you for your opinion, Scott!