Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music



Major Professor

Jacqueline A. Avila

Committee Members

Jacqueline A. Avila, Leslie C. Gay, Keith R. Brown



My project builds on existing histories of jazz, theories of creolization, and studies on cultural hybridity. Creolization and hybridity were equal partners in the creation of a societal and musical revolution. As a student and a performer of jazz, I have found that this aspect of jazz history has been neglected and under researched. This thesis attempts to fill in this gap and is guided by four major questions: (1) How did creolization and cultural hybridity influence the development and reception of jazz in the early half of the twentieth century? (2) How did the Creole and Black communities in New Orleans culturally and economically benefit from the merging of their musical practices and experiences? (3) What constituted the relationships between Black, White, and Creole communities? (4) Who were the major players that shaped and profited from the practice and how? These research questions engage with the concepts of cultural hybridity and cultural identity in order to understand how and why creolization was a major process that led to the development of jazz.

Contemporary New Orleans is a result of the forced and voluntary migration of a variety of populations to this unique region and the resulting hybridity continues to define the city as a bastion of diversity. The confluence of cultures in this city during this era showcases a musical, racial, and cultural hybridity that marks the unique city of New Orleans as the birthplace of jazz.

There were several musical styles and practices that emerged in New Orleans during the early twentieth century that contributed to the foundation of jazz. These practices consisted of gospel music, blues, European salon music, such as waltzes and popular dance, folk songs and improvisations that highlighted personal experiences (from hardships to happier occasions). The influx of musicians from Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean all brought their own stylistic elements to the music and culture of New Orleans. The result was one of cultural hybridity. I argue that in New Orleans, creolization was one of the major cultural processes that shaped the development of jazz between 1900 to 1940.

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