Music critics have consistently defined James P. Johnson as a great early jazz pianist, originator of the 1920s Harlem “stride” style, and an important blues and jazz composer. In addition, however, Johnson was an innovator in classical music, composing symphonic music that incorporated American, and especially African American, traditions.
Such a blend of musical elements was not entirely new: by 1924 both Milhaud and Gershwin had composed classical works that incorporated elements of jazz. Johnson, a serious musician more experienced than most classical composers with jazz, blues, spirituals, and popular music, was particularly suited to expand Milhaud’s and Gershwin’s experiments. In 1927 he completed his first large-scale work, the blues- and jazz-inspired Yamekraw, which included borrowings from spirituals and Johnson’s own popular songs. Yamekraw, premiered successfully in Carnegie Hall, was major achievement for Johnson, becoming his most frequently performed extended work. It demonstrated vividly the possibility of assimilating contemporary popular music into the symphonic tradition.
1. Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?
A. A historical overview is presented, and a particular phenomenon is noted and analyzed.
B. A popular belief is challenged, and a rival interpretation is presented and supported.
C. A common viewpoint is presented and modified, and the modification is supported.
D. An observation is made and rejected, and evidence for that rejection is presented.
E. A common claim is investigated, and an alternative outlook is analyzed and criticized.
For the following question, consider each of the choices separately and select all that apply.
2. The author suggests which of the following about most classical composers of the early 1920s?
A. They were strongly influenced by the musical experiments of the Milhaud and Gershwin.
B. They had little working familiarity with such forms of American music as jazz, blues, and popular songs.
C. They made few attempts to introduce innovations into the classical symphonic tradition.
3. The passage states that Johnson composed all of the following EXCEPT:
A. jazz works
B. popular songs
C. symphonic music
E. blues pieces