The Origin and Development of Early Jazz in South Africa
During the turn of the 19th century, the early beginnings of an incredible musical style were coming to fruition in the United States. New Orleans was quickly becoming the birthplace and epicenter of what would soon become known worldwide as jazz. Although jazz was born in America, shortly after its birth, the style would quickly spread across the globe (Fox 3). In Africa, jazz immediately found a home in South Africa and soon after became infused with local indigenous styles allowing the music to bear a distinctly African identity. According to Chris Porter, South Africa became a jazz-crazy nation that was absolutely enthralled with the emergence and popularity of jazz in America (“South African Jazz”).
The spread of jazz to South Africa is evidence of the popularity of jazz throughout the world, but the origins and development of jazz in South Africa did not happen in any single cross-continental transfer. Rather, the development of jazz in Africa spans many decades and is very difficult to specifically trace. In addition, there is limited research and record of many of the early musicians, musical styles, and social institutions that influenced jazz in South Africa (Ballantine 1-10).
This paper will ultimately investigate how jazz originated and developed in South Africa. Specifically, what conditions created an environment suitable for jazz to flourish in South Africa, what aspects of American music influenced South Africa, what indigenous musical traditions allowed the music to take on a national South African identity and sources of musical training was available to South African musicians.
Setting the Stage: Early American Influences
The time period between 1920 and 1940 is ultimately the era of the birth of defined jazz in South Africa, however in order to understand how jazz flourished during this time period, it is important to understand the musical and social...