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Duke Ellington and the Harlem Renaissance The term Harlem Renaissance refers to an artistic cultural and social time of writing about race and the African Americans place in American life during the early 1920s and 1930s It is hard to put a specific time and date in terms of social criticism protest and political advancements because of the fact that it took a long time for it all to develop Overall the Harlem Renaissance was a time of African Americans expressing talent and ideas and was the center of urban black life in America All oppressed African Americans knew that if they wanted to express themselves they would go to Harlem Harlem was your best chance at changing your life Harlem was considered the heart of the Renaissance in African American letters creating the name The Harlem Renaissance Harlem was the center of African American life Most black literature of the time referred to Harlem as Home Harlem stands as a symbol for the best and worst qualities of African American life during the early twentieth century The Harlem Renaissance was a time where blacks would show their true identities emotions feelings opinions etc Blacks expressed themselves socially culturally and through various forms of arts such as paintings literature and music The main music of the time was Jazz Jazz music began sometime around 1895 in New Orleans It combined the elements of Ragtime marching band music and Blues The main difference between Jazz and these other types of music was the widespread use of improvisation often played by more than one player at a time Jazz represented a break from Western musical traditions where the composer wrote a piece of music on paper and the musicians then tried their best to play exactly what was in the score In a Jazz piece the song is often just a starting point or frame of reference for the musicians to
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