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Swing That Music by Louis Armstong - Book Report/Review Example

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This is a book review of a famous jazz artist - Louis Armstrong, called “Swing That Music” . The author of this paper describes how this book remarkable is in attention to jazz music and literature in general…
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Swing That Music by Louis Armstong
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Download file to see previous pages The book consists of a chronological story of Louis Armstrong’s life, along with an introduction and a section at the end which concentrates on the more technical aspects of his music. There is also a useful glossary of terms which clarifies what was at the time a very new development in musical history. Above all this is a book about music, and through it all, the immense love of music, and the desire to make it always better, more true and emotional, shines through the whole book. Louis Armstrong describes himself proudly as being descended from slaves. He writes with great respect of his mother who was “a good and fine woman.” (Armstrong, 1993, p. 2). From the start of the book, the style of the author comes through very strongly. He writes very simply, using short sentences and sometimes slipping into his own casual dialect which is not the same as standard American English, as for example when he says “Louis, how come this to happen to you?” (Armstrong, 1993, p. 2) Despite this very simple and at times grammatically incorrect language, the book conveys a very strong sense of emotional connection with the author and with the world around him. He makes a lot of use of sensory descriptions, for example describing the natural surroundings he experienced while growing up in Louisiana : “Those big, white flowers do swing their scent… that smell of magnolia is my earliest memory of home” (Armstrong, 1993, p. 2) This use of the word “swing” shows that it has heavy connotations of his childhood, and of nature, and there is a world of emotions attached to it for Louis Armstrong. He is attached to all that is natural and belongs to his experience as a black American and this gives his music an authenticity and power that is still influential today. Reading about his life through his own words brings alive some of the concepts that he sang about and it is surprising to realise that many of the sad tales of poverty and joyful celebration melodies, which may seem somewhat exaggerated to modern urban Americans, are very true reflections of a part of the country where such extremes were the norm for many people. Events are related in roughly chronological order, starting with the birth of Louis Armstrong on July 4 1900. He grew up fatherless, and describes a childhood of poverty in the Mississippi area, where poor children sang for pennies outside the honky tonk bars in New Orleans. The overwhelming impression that the early part of the book leaves on the reader is the crushing poverty that he suffered and this makes his musical achievements all the more spectacular. At times he did not have enough to eat, and he felt obliged even as a small boy to make money to contribute to the welfare of his mother and younger sister. Taking a variety of basic jobs, he got to know a lot of different people, including Jewish families and white families. He drifted into mild criminal activity as a child and was sent to a strict boys’ home because of an incident with a gun in a public place. The reader cannot help thinking of parallels here with modern American youths who get mixed up in violence just because of the social deprivation of the area where they live. The boys’ home did, however, bring hims something useful because it was there that he learned to play the cornet. Music was, in those times ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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