New Changning, Shanghai, China. Image © Gensler
American cities, by their nature, have a way of encouraging shockingly different, even dissonant, elements to comingle and spawn dynamic new forms. Jazz and hip-hop—two quintessentially urban and American genres of music—are predicated on such fusions. Jazz (which was born in what was, for many years, our most diverse southern city, New Orleans) blends African polyrhythms and scales with European chord progression concepts. Hip-hop (which sprang from our most diverse northern city, New York) weaves together snatches of pre-existing recorded material from funk, soul, rock, electronic music and jazz. Such unforeseen mash-ups are the life-blood of American cities.