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[Detail] Louis Armstrong, Carnegie Hall, New York, N.Y., ca. Apr. 1947

Writing Style

Six arrangers with piece of modern art

Portrait of Ralph Burns, Edwin A. Finckel, George Handy, Neal Hefti, Johnny Richards, and Eddie Sauter, Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y., ca. Mar. 1947. Do you find this image "too comical"? How did Gottlieb solve the problem of the museum's response to his photographs?

Magazines intended for a specialized audience often have a writing style designed to appeal to that audience. Writing style refers to the writer's tone, the words used, and the way the words are combined into sentences (syntax). The William P. Gottlieb: Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz collection includes a number of articles from Down Beat magazine, a specialized publication for jazz musicians and fans.

In the March 26, 1947, issue, William Gottlieb wrote an article about his attempts to photograph several jazz arrangers with works of modern art for the issue's cover. The article began:

How crazy can you get? Taking pictures of six jazz musicians, when it involves making appointments in advance? Having to take the shot to please the stuffy officials of a holier-than-everything museum?

In other words, the current cover was some headache.

From "Six Arrangers Examine Modern Art," Down Beat magazine (Mar. 26, 1947)

Read the entire article and consider the following questions:

  • How would you describe the tone of the piece? What attitude toward art-as-represented-in-museums does Gottlieb convey? How does he make that attitude plain? What attitude does he convey about jazz?
  • How would you describe the language Gottlieb used? Note places where the language used changed. What was Gottlieb's purpose in making this change?
  • How would you describe the syntax? Are sentences simple or complex? How does Gottlieb use incomplete sentences? How are questions used in the piece? What is the overall effect of Gottlieb's syntax?
  • Why might this writing style be appropriate for a jazz magazine?