​Music of the Great Depression
Lexi and Brynn

Music has always been popular throughout history. Sometimes music was the only joy to people during these dreary times. A particular dreary time was the Great Depression and the music that brought those people through it was jazz.

The Great Depression involved a lot of jazz music. The music was the inspiration of the people who were not in the best point in their lives. The jazz music that they played wasn't sad or depressing, it was cheery and you might even say a bit poppy. Sometimes, the only paying job they could find was a gig at a bar or club. Most musicians were in a band, so when they played gigs they had more than one instrument going. Many of the bands used improvisation, which means that they made it up as they went along. They would just start to play a storming beat. Jazz wasn't the only music, there was also Ragtime, Blues, and Broadway. Did you know that President Herbert Hoover was the one who signed a contract to officially make “The Star Spangled Banner” our national anthem? Now do you understand why jazz music was so important during the Great Depression?

Jazz wasn't just any old band instruments, there were some that were more popular than others. No instrument is truly off-limits in the stormy music of jazz. Singers were only occasional in BANDS. With its soulfull rythm and deep meaning, you would guess that jazz is deeply rooted to African-Americans. The trumpet and trombone were some of the most popular of all instruments.

Piano ClipArtGallery.com
Piano ClipArtGallery.com
Drums ClipArtGallery.com
Drums ClipArtGallery.com


But there was no way to be more popular than the piano or drums. The guitar was often used as a substitution for drums. There were also less commonly used: flute, harmonica, the vibraphone, and the oboe. Overall, it wasn't the instrument itself that was popular, it was the way the musician played it.

There were so many famous musicians back then, you might even recognize some of them today.


Louis Armstrong ClipArtGallery.com
Louis Armstrong ClipArtGallery.com

First of all, Louis Armstrong ( loo-WEE). Louis grew up poor with no shoes and no water. He also had no father. He was raised by his mother May-Ann. Louis introduced the element of solo improvisation to jazz. Louis's nickname was the battlefield. Louis started his career when he was arrested for shooting a pistol in the street. Louis was a trumpet soloist, a bandleader, a composer, and a vocalist. Louis Armstrong wrote the song “ Hello Dolly” from the musical Hello Dolly. Louis sadly died two days after his seventy-first birthday. The next person I want to talk about is Cab Calloway. Cab Calloway was not only a bandleader but a jazz singer as well. He was a regular performer at Cotton Club in Harlen, NY. He was a master of his art. Cab Calloway's band included : Dizzy Gillespie on the trumet, who we talk more about later, Adolphus "Doc" Cheathson on the trumet too, Ben Webster on the saxophone, Leon "Chu" Berry also on the sax, Danny Baker on the guitar, and Milt Hinton on the bass.


Dizzy Gillespie ClipArtGallery.com
Dizzy Gillespie ClipArtGallery.com

==Now, I think we should move on to Dizzy Gillespie, his real name was John Birks Gillespie. Dizzy started his career in music when his father died. It drove him to be a troublemaker and his music teacher decided to help. She gave him lessons. Interestingly enough, Dizzy's trumpet got taken off the stage one day and got bent. After playing it a few times, he started to like the sound and from then on he had all his trumpets bent that way. I took an interest in a singer named Ethel Merman. Ethel had many nicknames, one of the most popular being a doll from Astoria with a trumpet down her throat. As you can tell, she was an amazing singer. Surprisingly, Ethel never took a voice or music lesson in her life. Ethel Merman sang the song "Anything Goes" from the play Anything Goes. The last person I want to talk about is Duke Ellington who you may already recognize. As a child, Duke was foridden to listen to any music composed or sang by a white person. Duke began playing a variety of instruments at age 8, his favorite was piano. Duke E.'s first band was named the Washingtonians. Ellington went to Cotton Club, the same as Cab Calloway. Carnegie Hall hosted many concerts for the Duke Ellington Orchestra, An interesting fact about Duke Ellington is that President Nixon through a birthday party for Duke on his seventieth birthday at the White House. There are so many more famous musicians/singers that I don't think any one person could know them all.


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Sources:
“Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Ethel Merman, Cab Callaway, and Dizzy Gillespie.” Wikipedia. N.p. 3 April 2012, 4 April 2012, 29 March 2012, 31 March 2012, 4 April 2012. Web. 4 April 12. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mainpage>
“Dizzy Gillespie’s real name.” ThinkQuest. N.p. Not found. Web. 4 April 2012. <http://www.thinkquest.org/pls/html/think.library>
“Cab Callaway and Dizzy Gillespie were in the same band.” Jazzbiographies.com. N.p. Not found. 4 April 2012. <[[http://jazzbiographies.com/]]>
“Cab Callaway.” Life123. N.p. Not found. 4 April 2012 <http://www.life123.com/>

Collins,Richerd. Jazz. New York: Facts on File,1991. Print.
Editor: Rennert, Richerd. Jazz Stars. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1994. Print.
Origill, Roxanne Shout, Sister, Shout! New York: Margret K. McElderry Books. 2001. Print