Brad Sparhawk, Stephanie Greenberg, Noora Mohammed, Jeff Sharpe

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The 1920’s, otherwise known as The Roaring Twenties, was a time of jazz and music. It was when everyone expressed themselves through dance and music. Some of the dances were the Swing and Charleston. Despite the fact that slavery was still in session, people all over enjoyed these dances. Most of the singers were African American, but that didn’t stop the people from listening to the soul full music. All through the 20’s people really enjoyed their independence of choosing what to dance and sing too.The Roarin' Twenties was one of the most exciting and fun time of history.

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Jazz is an American musical art that originated at the beginning of the 20th century. It started in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was a mixture of African and European music traditions. This could have also been known as the turning point in music. There were many different people who changed music and the way people look at it (1920s entertainment).
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It is popular in jazz to hear the use of blues notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, synopation, and the swing note. By the mid- 1920’s, jazz was being played in dance halls, roadhouses, and speakeasies all over the country. Early jazz influences found their first mainstream expression in the popular concert music in the early twentieth century. Of course what really brings soul to the Jazz music is the singers. Bessie Smith was the greatest and most influential classic blues singer of the 1920’s. During her profession, she earned atleast $2000 per week, which was a whole lot of money for the 20’s. Another popular jazz singer is Louis Armstrong. He joined King Oliver in Chicago. He played solos with The Hot Five (History of Swing One). Some of the instruments musicians used in the 1920s were a saxophone, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, tuba, piano, guitar, double bass, drums, and vocals.


As you can see, Jazz has really impacted on the 20’s, as so do the singers. Jazz was a great way to have fun and express yourself.

Another popular kind of music and dance was Swing. Swing was being danced all over the place, like in night clubs, in the movies, and even on the streets. Different styles of swing were Savory Swing, Lindy, West Coast Swing, whip, push, supreme swing, imperial Swing, Carolina Shag, DC Hand Dancing, East Coast Swing, Country-Western Swing, Cajun Swing, Pony Swing, and Jive (History of Swing Dancing). Swing was first played in the 1920's, during the Harlem Renaissance. It is a form of jazz music that got more popular in the early 1930s and had been the new 'cool' by 1935 in the Untied States. Swing bands usually featured solist who would improvise a new melody over the arrangement. The danceable swing style of bandleaders such as Benny Goodman and Count Basie were the dominant form of American popular music from 1935 to 1945 (Swing Music) Swing was basically a “swinging” version of jazz. Benny Goodman was the “King of Swing” He made swing popular all over the nation. Swing gave birth to the jitterbug, an athletic dance with two partners where they would separate and “improvise” the dance (The Twentieth Century)

Benny Goodman
Benny Goodman

Count Basie
Count Basie

Ragtime was one of the most famous genres of music in the Roaring Twenties. One might ask why it was so famous. As we all know, in the twenties, slavery was not yet abolished. And yet, African Americans were the ones composing the ragtime beat! And everyone loved it! Why? Because the beat was so syncopated, which means ragged (Ragtime).


Ragtime started out as dance music, then formed into ragtime. There are four major types of ragtime music. The one we usually hear is classic instrumental rag (Southern Music in the 20th Century). Some famous ragtime musicians in the 1920's were: Harry Belding, Theron C. Bennett , Eubie Blake, Blind Boone, Euday L. Bowman , Thomas E. Broady , George L. Cobb , Zez Confrey , Les C. Copeland b, Jacob Henry Ellis, James Reese Europe , Lucian Porter Gibson, Harry P. Guy, Ernest Hogan , Charles Hunter, Kerry Mills and Jelly Roll Morton (Wikipedia)
In 1917, ragtime was overplayed by jazz, but since then, there have been a few times when it was ‘cool’ again. These time periods were short and soon, other music overplayed it. (Wikipedia).

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Blind Boone
Blind Boone
What made Rag and Jazz so special? The singers, of course! As stated before, Bessie Smith was a huge part of the 1920's. She was a classic blues singer of the 1920s. Another singer was Sippie Wallace Blind Lemon Jefferson. She recorded over eighty blues notes between 1925 to 1929. All of the singers make the song more interesting and make you get up and on your feet dancing. Especially Louis Armstrong. He was an amazing singer and made everyone like jazz songs better than ever before!

Last, but not least The Charleston was one of the most popular dances out there. It was a dance that was named after the city Charleston, South Carolina. It was developed by African Americans, despite the black history, white people enjoyed the dance just as much as any other dance. The dance can be done with either two people or just by yourself. It’s basically a twisting movement with your feet. it’s a great way to get up and moving. The Charleston was one of the greatest dances in the 20’s, everyone really enjoyed the jazzy dance.

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In conclusion, the 1920’s was a great time of singing and dancing. It also showed that a lot of the music and dances were created by African Americans, despite the slavery. Strangely, everyone loved the singing and dancing.

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Macmillan, The Twentieth Century. 3. Princeton NJ: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992.
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