Throughout history, music has made dramatic impacts on the way civilizations and communities function and behave. Likewise, the behavior and attitudes of people in a community add to the flavor and attitude of the music made within the culture. Examples of this sort of connection include the Baroque era in Europe, where the character of the common citizen and the music were very refined and structured, or in England during the 70?s, where the citizens and the music displayed anger and revolt against the monarchy. New Orleans has always been a city that provides inspiration for musicians and artists, and likewise, the creations that come from this city strike chords with many other cultures worldwide and have impacted communities just the same. The sound and vibe of New Orleans, especially right after the Great Depression, helped to release what can be called the ?American free spirit,? by making the nation a more colorful, free, and honest place to live.

There are three distinct sounds of New Orleans, all of which first developed in small urban areas, and caught on throughout the region. These New Orleans-bred styles of music are jazz, blues, and a more recent genre, bounce music. In all these forms, life in New Orleans in its urban context is depicted through the music?s portrayal of emotion, action, and event. The music has also helped to shape New Orleans? cultural identity, which is undeniably different from any other culture in the world in language, behavior, ethic, and daily life. The laid back, sexual, and nostalgic attitudes of the New Orleanian are heard through the crooning of the blues. The high-spirited, ?dirty-dancing,? conversational mannerisms are spoken through jazz music. The rhythmic chanting of a bounce rap displays the tendency of those in New Orleans to party until the early morning, their desire for easy money and better living (the American Dream), and most importantly, the pride he has for his home in the South.

Congress called jazz ?a rare and invaluable national treasure of international importance? that is the ?most widely recognized indigenous art form? in the United States (McDonough 11). Ellis Marsalis states ?jazz is the most American of art forms, the distillation of the American Spirit? (Scherman 73). Apparently, from these quotations, this form of music we know as jazz has had quite an impact on a nation. Many believe Buddy Bolden was the first to play his cornet without sheet music to a basic folk beat, and thus introduced one of the most important aspects of jazz music, improvisation. Louis Armstrong, once called the ?Johann Sebastian Bach of jazz music? by Wynton Marsalis (popular band leader), reportedly had once, while singing a ?folksy? blues/country tune, dropped his music on the ground and instead of picking it up, began to ?scat? or sing gibberish that sounded perfect with the beat, as he improvised the notes and sounds with his mouth in tune with the song. ?Jazz,? Duke Ellington once told a newspaper reporter, ?is freedom? (Ponce 92). When attending a jazz show, you will rarely hear songs played the same way twice. Jazz is also very interactive and conversational ? often the musicians will ?trade fours,? which means they will improvise soloes for four measures and then ?pass? to another performer. Improvisation makes for a very conversational style of music, and it is social by nature. There is the freedom to formulate an infinite number of emotions through the music, and if you?re attending a jazz show, you have the freedom to dance and sing until you get tired. This was not an accepted behavior for popular American music prior to the 20?s.

Few of the founding pioneers of New Orleans jazz music were able to see their later successes, for it wasn?t until after America?s entry into World War I and the end of the Great Depression that jazz music gained recognition nationwide and evolved into big band and swing. At this point, jazz had become the locus of American music. It spread very quickly as many of the jazz musicians had left New Orleans to head North during the Great Migration, which was caused by a plague of boll weevils on southern crops, a succession of floods in the Mississippi Delta, and the availability of factory jobs in the North