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The evolution of jazz in Britain c. 1880-1927: antecedents, processes and developments

Parsonage, Catherine Jane (2002). The evolution of jazz in Britain c. 1880-1927: antecedents, processes and developments. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis examines the way in which jazz evolved in Britain beginning with an examination of the cultural and musical antecedents of the genre, including minstrel shows and black musical theatre, within the context of musical life in Britain in the late nineteenth-early twentieth centuries. The processes through which this evolution took place are considered with reference to the ways in which jazz was introduced to Britain through imported revue shows and sheet music, as well as by the visits of American musicians. Finally, the subsequent development of jazz in Britain in the 1920s is analysed with particular consideration of the 'jazz age', modernism and the 'culture industry' as theoretical constructs and detailed study of dance music on the BBC and jazz in the underworld of London.

The thesis falls into two parts, the first provides historical and theoretical perspectives on the topic, and the second presents various case studies that examine particular manifestations of the evolving presence of jazz in Britain. The research makes use of a wide variety of primary source material; in addition to recordings (where available), sheet music, and concert programmes, which offer direct information about the music performed; biographies, film, photographs, government, police and court records, newspapers and periodicals provide the necessary context.

This thesis presents a new version of the history of jazz in Britain, not only through the factual findings resulting from the consideration of how jazz evolved in Britain, but also through the methodological approach used. The research establishes the parallel worlds of jazz that existed by the end of the 1920s in Britain: the realm of the institutionalised 'culture industry' and the underworld, and shows the importance of image and racial stereotyping in shaping perceptions of jazz in Britain. Most significantly I this study clearly establishes that the evolution of jazz in Britain is unique, rather than an extension or reflection of that in America.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
M Music and Books on Music
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Performing Arts > Music
Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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