The Invisible Armstrong Essay

1280 words - 6 pages

The Invisible Armstrong
Music: a form of sound entertainment which can influence the accompaniment of emotional securities from the surrounding life. Beginning from the early twentieth century, one form of music, jazz, was to live completely dependent on the musician’s mood and personal experience to interpret a tune. Louis Armstrong was one of the most influential jazz musicians of the early twentieth century. Armstrong, born August 4, 1901, grew up in a poor family from New Orleans, Louisiana, establishing his love for music, beginning his career in 1917. After the start of his career, he went on to becoming one of most famous men in America, leading bands such as the All-Stars, ...view middle of the document...

Armstrong once remarked in accordance to racial controversy, “It’s no crime for cats of any color to get together and blow.” (Woog 8). Although every man can appear to be the same human race on the inside, no one is able to see past his exterior to view what really constructs him as a person, and in being an African-American, the narrator believes himself to be invisible, forced to submit to regulations of society within the black prejudice barriers in order to fit into his world.
Existentialism plays a role in which the narrator of the The Invisible Man searches to find his human existence, his identity, to understand the meaning or purpose of life. "Perhaps I like Louis Armstrong because he’s made poetry out of being invisible. I think it must be because he’s unaware that he is invisible. And my own grasp of invisibility aids me to understand his music." (Ellison 8). The identity the narrator has for himself is one of being invisible, and with that awareness and confidence of invisibility, comprehension of his life will soon come after. Because of the many successes Armstrong was able to accomplish throughout his life despite the color of his skin, the narrator was able to analyze over his own life for his better understanding of identity and purpose. "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). Jazz, including the music of Louis Armstrong, relies on improvisational sounds which serve as a metaphor in the search of black individualism. The thoughts and actions of the narrator are also improvisational which creates the effect that the structure of the novel was written with the description of jazz as the narrator journeys on the quest to search for himself. Being an existentialist in search of identity and purpose is not easy unless there is a realization and acceptance of one’s self and surroundings.
Louis Armstrong’s jazz music demonstrates an expression of Modernist art with originality and innovation. The acknowledgment that Armstrong, starting from Armstrong’s Hot Five, was one of the many musicians to recreate jazz in interpretations within its genre is the beginning of learning to comprehend Modernist art. The Modernist aesthetic of jazz is deeply influenced by the energy provided by black individuality. The drive for innovation in the characteristics of jazz becomes an analogy for the need of individuality and identity of the narrator. “Modernism gave jazz its penchant for...

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