Making America's music: jazz history and the Jazz Preservation Act

Farley, Jeff (2008) Making America's music: jazz history and the Jazz Preservation Act. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The aim of this thesis is to investigate some significant examples of the process by which jazz has been shaped by the music industry and government and their ideas of the place of jazz within American culture and society. The examples demonstrate that the history and traditions of jazz are not fixed entities, but rather constructions used to understand and utilise issues of race, national identity, cultural value, and musical authenticity and
innovation. Engagement with such issues has been central to identifying jazz as America’s music, as it earned this status from its worldwide popularity and its identity as an innovative black American art form. Recognition for jazz as American music, in conjunction with its improvisational nature, consequently led to the identification of jazz as ‘democratic’ music through its role in racial integration in America and in its representation of American democracy in government propaganda programmes.

The different histories of jazz and its status as democratic, American music have all been especially important to the development of House Concurrent Resolution 57 in 1987, referred to as the Jazz Preservation Act (JPA). Authored by Congressman John Conyers, Jr. of Michigan, the JPA defined jazz as a ‘national treasure’ that deserved public support and inclusion in the education system. Few in the industry have criticised the recognition and public subsidy of jazz, but many have found fault with the JPA’s definitions of jazz and its history that have dictated this support. While the JPA has essentially continued the practice of shaping jazz through ideas of its place within American culture and society, it has provided immense resources to promote a fixed history and canon for jazz. Specifically, the JPA has promoted jazz as the American music, taking a particular stance on the histories of race and discrimination in the industry and the definitions of authentic jazz that had been sources of disagreement, competition, and creativity since the release of the first jazz record in 1917.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Twentieth century American history, jazz, cultural policy, music industry, African American history
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts
Supervisor's Name: Newman, Prof. Simon
Date of Award: 2008
Depositing User: Dr Jeff Farley
Unique ID: glathesis:2008-519
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Dec 2008
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:19

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