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Gypsy Jazz Essay

2150 words - 9 pages

Casandra Cabral-Castro
Professor Henley
MUS 211 World Music Cultures
May 1, 2014

A Glimpse into Gypsy Jazz
Gypsy jazz is wanderer music, created on the move of many, and is comprised of numerous musical traditions. Gypsies originated in India. In the year 1001, an army of peasants were drafted to fight Muslim invaders. The wars lasted thirty years, after which the warriors migrated west to Byzantium. From there they migrated through Egypt and North Africa to Spain and France. In Spain they became known as gitanos and, in France, gitans. They were first reported in France in 1418. Some then continued on to Russia and Eastern Europe, (Silverman, 2000).
Some eastern Europeans ...view middle of the document...

A nomadic lifestyle often enforced upon Roma through harassment and prejudice, gave them opportunities to enlarge their repertoires and become multi-musical and multilingual,” (Silverman, 2000).

The Gypsy style emerges from the soul of deeply oppressed peoples. Gypsy music is a great cultural achievement of modern civilization. Gypsy jazz origins are predominantly in France. Gypsy jazz is often called "jazz manouch" by the French, (Silverman, 2000). The dark Gypsy flavor with the swing delivery of the nineteen twenty’s, and thirty’s is dire to this style of jazz. Guitar and violin are the main solo instruments. The clarinet, mandolin, and accordion are also common instruments used. The rhythm guitar is played using a specific percussion technique known as, "la pompe". This distinct technique is used in place of drums. Many instrumental lineups exist. A typical ensemble includes: three guitars (one lead, and two rhythm), one violin and one bass is the most common.
Keeping this musical tradition live is an important living musical tradition among the Romanies in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany. The skill is transferred from older relatives to the new generations through oral tradition. The younger generations absorb new influences in their playing before passing the tradition to the next generation. Music is an important part of Romani life. Gypsy jazz is played in small family occasions as well as in larger gatherings. The venues may change, but the music remains the same, (Reed, 1999). For many of the Romani people this is the only means of income.
Caravan Palace, a Parisian electro-swing group, was formed in 2007, when the band was brought together to compose the soundtrack for a silent adult film. Even with the band’s shady beginning in 2009 their first CD sold over one-hundred and fifty thousand copies and made it to number eleven on France’s album chart, (Arcos, Betto). Gypsy jazz, American swing from the 1930’s, and an electronic beat that is full of energy, lies at the core of the band’s success. The band knew they were going to hit some criticism from many groups. The Roma people were their greatest concern. The Roma need the public to continue the interest in their music in order to make a living. ‘We were very afraid of the reaction of gypsies, and really understood that we weren’t here to do the same job as them,’ explained Hugo Payen, Caravan Palace’s violinist and co-founder (Arcos, Betto). Keeping in mind the traditional styles of Gypsy jazz, they still managed to still have fun.
Below is a compilation of five tracks off of Caravan Palace’s album Panic. This album is the second the band has produced and was released on March 5, 2012. Each song has the lyrics listed and a short reflection and analysis.
1. Rock It For Me
All the "bad boys" want some brawl, it's tricky
And girls enjoy, they feel so lucky
Laughing at weeds running out the door,
Calling their mom when they lick the floor
(Look how) Those funky...

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