Melting Pot of Music

The concept of the "Melting Pot" has been used to describe America. However recently historians have decided that it is not altogether applicable to the United States. New Orleans is an exception of course. New Orleans has a melting pot all its own. It took place in the latter half of the 19th century. It was a melting pot of music. All sorts of music came into New Orleans throughout the 19th century. From Ragtime to minstrel shows, blues to African tribal music, New Orleans had it all.

When Louisiana succeeded from the Union, New Orleans became the largest city in the South. Its size made it a center for culture in the southern half of the United States. There were three Opera companies, two Symphonies (one Creole), Congo Square, brass bands, and even more. Everywhere there was music. The most mainstream of American music in the 19th century was Minstrel shows and later Ragtime. Both found a large audience in New Orleans. Because of the growing importance of the port of New Orleans, the city was flourishing. There were always people from out of town, be they sailors or tourists, to supply New Orleans musicians with an audience.

Most importantly all of these forms of music were mixing together. The player in the brass band would occasionally syncopate his rhythms, the trademark of ragtime. And so it went with all the forms of music in New Orleans. They were slowing intermingling their way together towards Jazz.

Return to
Jazz Home

Return to Music of the River Home