New Orleans: A Haven for Music Lovers

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The birthplace of Jazz, New Orleans has come a long way from playing Dixieland (the predecessor to jazz) to harboring musicians from all kinds of genres; funk, rock, hip-hop, classical ballads, R&B, soul, country—you name it!

Music is, and has always been, an inherent part of what makes New Orleans so magical, and today, raw talent is seen on every corner of the city—quite literally! New Orleans is a city of street performers; performing everything from the acoustic guitar and harmonica to the cello and the trombone!

The Early 19th Century:

Back in the days when New Orleans was newly integrated into America, the music scene was still in its infancy. A bit of the influence of African music started infiltrating the European music forms that were then popular in the city due to the weekly performances put on by African slaves in Congo Square.

The Emergence of Jazz Music:

While the genre of Jazz had been around since centuries—though then it was known as ragtime—it was only in the early to mid 20th century that it started gaining prominence. However, the New Orleans musicians wanted their style of music to be distinctive and separate from the nationally popular ragtime, and created the name “jass”, which later turned into the “jazz” we now know it as.

Consisting of marching band music made with brass instruments (usually procured at pawn shops), jazz was music played at rough working class venues and so, for a long time, was considered a pastime for the lower classes.

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 The Jazz Funerals:

One of the leading jazz musicians to come out of New Orleans, Sidney Bechet, once claimed that, “Music here is as much a part of death as it is of life.” And perhaps the true meaning of what he meant can be understood by looking upon the tradition of jazz funerals common in all parts of the city.

Instead of mourning for the loss of a life, New Orleans celebrate the life that once was and the completion of a happy, fulfilling existence with rousing music like, When the Saints Go Marching In,” or “Didn’t He Ramble”. Death in New Orleans is just as much of a fun affair as is life in the city!

Modern Influences

After World War II and because of the emergence of the internet in the 21st Century, the music scene in the Big Easy has evolved and now hosts concerts and shows playing not only the jazz it is so famous for, but also pop, rock, R&B, soul, and every other genre under the sun.

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