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New Orleans—Mainspring or Myth?
music, circa 590 A.D., and the pre-jazz that was played around the end of the last century.
A period from the 11th to the 14th century, bringing the earliest and most primitive forms of counterpoint and the first attempts to document music with a system of notation, would correspond with the jazz of the first World War and the early recording era of the 1920s, when jazzmen stepped from semi-illiteracy to the first stages of consciously coordinated development, of early attempts at jazz orchestrations. The birth of the modern music era and of the symphony, represented by Bach and Haydn, would be equivalent to the development of the swing bands, and of smaller groups that stepped from Dixieland polyphony to the symphonious planning of the Teddy Wilsons and John Kirby s—all events of the 1930s.
The late Beethoven works, with their attempts to depart from complete adherence to tonality, would provide an approximate parallel for the efforts of Gillespie, Parker and the other innovators of the early 1940s, who freed jazz from a harmonic and melodic straitjacket. The nineteenth century composers such as Brahms and Tchaikowsky would find their jazz equivalent in the degree of progress, though not in actual musical content, with the Kenton band, while the 1950s' experimental jazz would roughly parallel the innovations of Debussy. (Some of the work of the Modern Jazz Quartet, ironically, takes us back to Bach, not merely in analogy but in actuality.) So we find that a period extending from 590, when Gregory became Pope, until 1918, when Debussy died, produced developments in music for which a corresponding degree of development in jazz was accomplished between about 1897 and 1957—a ratio of more than 1300 years against 60, which means that jazz has been evolving more than 20 times as fast. Thus it could hardly be expected that a 1957 jazz musician would derive any more emotional pleasure from the products of the Bunk Johnsons and George Lewises than a contemporary concert composer might from the quality of early Christian music created before tine establishment of bar lines, meter and scales.
As Andr6 Hodeir pointed out in the observation quoted at th©