Invisible Man and Jazz.ppt - Wikispaces

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					                                     Jazz has roots in Western African, Ragtime, Hymns and Marching Band music.
                                      It came into the forefront of American pop music during the 1920’s, when
                                     artists such as Louis Armstrong became well known for their talent in
                                     improvisation and “scat” singing.
                                      Jazz focuses on underlying chords and syncopated melodies, from which
                                     artists use their freedom to improvise, or elaborate, on the musical structure,
                                     making each piece their own.
                                      Of particular interest to Ellison was New Orleans jazz, which incorporated
                                     Dixieland influence and blues, focusing more on improvisation than other forms.

 Jazz has a particular importance to the African American community because it is
rooted in uniquely different compositional roots than traditional European
orchestration. Thus jazz was a tribute to the slave hymnals and African beats that
African American history spoke to.

                                    Jazz made use of traditionally European
                                   instruments such as the piano, trumpet,
                                   saxophone, and clarinets, yet used them in such a
                                   unique way that they were completely renewed.
 Ellison uses strong contrast between traditionally rooted African American
music and classical European as an allegory for the Invisible Man’s own
conflicted identity. For example, though the Invisible Man is listening to a
magnificent orchestral composition, Dvorak’s New World Symphony he cannot
deny the underlying hymn of Swing Low Sweet Chariot. The Invisible Man’s
unwillingness to admit that he hears the hymn represents his unconscious
denial of self.

  Ellison’s inspiration from improvisation could come from the fact that
 improvisation gave the musician artistic freedom, which at its most elemental,
 quotes the ongoing theme of the struggle for freedom and identity in the Invisible

                           The book itself is organized like a
                          musical composition, structured to include
                          solos, improvisatory stages and the
                          overwhelming undertone of “the blues.”
                          Ellison has been famously quoted as saying
                          America is “jazz shaped.” Indeed, jazz,
                          though a culmination of many cultures, is
                          unique to America, ironically referencing the
                          ongoing liberty/freedom theme throughout
                          the book.
“Listen to me, the bungling bugler of words, imitating the trumpet and the trombone’s timbre, playing thematic variations
like a baritone horn…connoisseur of voice sounds…riding the curve of a preachers rhythm” (Ellison 113).

Then the orchestra played excerpts from Dvorak’s New World Symphony and I kept hearing “Swing Low, Sweet
Chariot” (Ellison 134).

 “Invisibility, let me explain, gives one a slightly different sense of time, you’re never quite on the beat.
 Sometimes you’re ahead and sometimes behind. Instead of the swift and imperceptible flowing of time, you are
 aware of its nodes, those points where time stands still or from which it leaps ahead. And you slip into the
 breaks and look around. That’s what you hear vaguely in Louis’ music” (Ellison 8).
                                  “And this brother Tod Clifton, the young leader, looked somehow like a hipster,
                                  a zoot suiter, a sharpie” (Ellison 366).
                                  “I had just begun to feel the pulsing set up between myself and the people,
                                  hearing them answering in staccato applause and agreement when Tod Clifton
                                  caught my eye…I saw a bristling band of about twenty men quick-stepping
                                  forward” (Ellison 368).
Cold empty bed...springs hurt my head
Feels like ole ned...wished I was dead
What did I be so black and blue

Even the mouse...ran from my house
They laugh at you...and all that you do
What did I be so black and blue

I'm white...inside...but, that don't help my
That's life...can't hide...what is in my face

How would it end...ain't got a friend
My only in my skin
What did I be so black and blue
How would it end...i ain't got a friend
My only in my skin
What did I be so black and blue
             I chose to work with Jazz imagery and allegory in
Invisible Man, not only because of my own musicianship and love of
music, but because of the genius of Ellison’s parallel literary
“composition” in reference to jazz music. He realized the
importance of music in everyday life, and more imperatively, the
way different music represents cultures. I found quotes and
deduced imagery from Ellison’s history and his writing.
               I always listened to Louis Armstrong as a child, and
other jazz musicians have emotional significance to me. Music is
imitates life, and life consequently imitates the way we feel when we
hear certain music. Ellison’s use of the “improvisational” technique
is genius as well as ironic since it evidently took Ellison such a long
time to finish the book.

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