April 04, 2017

#05-026: International Jazz Day

crowd watching a video screen with a musician performing in front of Spanish colonial buildings
Herbie Hancock performs on International Jazz Day in Havana, Cuba

Note: Find out how American jazz rose from its humble beginnings to become an important force in international relations.

Get Ready: Do you like jazz? Do you think it's an important element in international relations?

American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, "Music is the universal language of mankind" (adding that "poetry [is] their universal pastime and delight.") The quote is from Outre-Mer (French for "Overseas"), Longfellow's first published work and a prose account of a visit to Europe.

And it's true. One can be moved by music from any culture, from simple drumming to the most complex Baroque fugue.

With this in mind, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared April 30 "International Jazz Day." We have already seen (in Lesson #05-021) that April is Jazz Appreciation Month in America. That observance was initiated in 2001. The celebration went international in 2011.

What, you may ask, is "international" about jazz? UNESCO made eight points in that regard.

  1. First, they said that it "breaks down barriers," creating "opportunities for mutual understanding and tolerance."
  2. Next, they considered it a "vector of freedom of expression." ("Vector" here means something like "carrier" or "bearer.")
  3. Third, it "reduces tensions between individuals, groups, and communities."
  4. It also "encourages artistic innovation, improvisation, new forms of expression, and inclusion of traditional music forms into new ones."
  5. And finally, it "stimulates intercultural dialogue and empowers young people from marginalized societies."

You may have noticed that almost all of these discuss jazz's social ramifications; but the penultimate one, about "artistic innovation, improvisation," etc., is more specifically about the artistic consequences of jazz.

To be honest, although I personally love jazz (and am descended from some of its founders), I wonder if UNESCO hasn't somewhat overstated their case. Nevertheless, I can't argue with their conclusion that jazz--like many forms of music and art--can be a "force for peace, dialogue and mutual understanding."


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Jazz_Day

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. Baroque
  2. empowers
  3. fugue
  4. marginalized
  5. overstated
  6. pastime
  7. penultimate
  8. prose
  9. ramifications
  10. tolerance

  1. a musical work with intertwining themes
  2. gives greater influence to
  3. next-to-the-last
  4. acceptance of each other
  5. asserted too strongly
  6. everyday language, not poetry
  7. pushed to the edge
  8. hobby
  9. results; consequences
  10. the period of classical music from 1600 to 1750

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for April 4, 2017

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. j; 2. b; 3. a; 4. g; 5. e; 6. h; 7. c; 8. f; 9. i; 10. d