How to Create a Funeral Procession


funeral jazz procession

These days, many people are looking to make the funeral of a loved one a celebration of life rather than a sorrowful and mournful occasion. When it comes to funeral planning, more people are considering how to create a funeral procession. 

So, how do you make a funeral procession an integral part of a celebratory send-off?

The Origins of a Funeral Procession

The roots of a jazz funeral procession are traced back to the streets of 19th century New Orleans.

The thinking behind the custom was to provide a way for the deceased to find a path to Heaven. To this end, the procession represents a celebration of release from earthly life and the journey to the next – eternal life in Heaven.

The traditions echo funeral ceremonies from Africa. Captive slaves brought these from the continent to America. So, there are also connotations of release from slavery wrapped up in the custom of the New Orleans jazz procession. Of course, this has a resonance for the city’s population, both then and now.

The Original Funeral Procession

The custom of the original funeral processions of the 1800s saw mourners walk from the home of the deceased to the cemetery. A band played spiritual music and traditional dirges (a song or lament expressing grief and mourning). After the burial, the procession would be led back to the house by the band playing more upbeat music. Often these tunes would be popular songs of the day.

As jazz music evolved from the heartlands of the Deep South, it became the soundtrack of the New Orleans Jazz Funeral as we know it today.

Musical Funerals, Brass Bands and Jazz Funerals

Traditionally, the procession was a part of what was known as a ‘musical funeral’ and the musicians themselves were known as ‘brass bands’ – although quite different to what most of us recognise as a British brass band.

In fact, musical funerals only became known as ‘jazz funerals’ after the procession was popularised globally in the 1973 James Bond movie, Live and Let Die.

A Funeral Procession For the Here and Now

Although steeped in tradition and folklore, a funeral procession is very much for the present day.

Silk Street Jazz can perform a procession at a funeral of a loved one. The band can follow the traditions of the classic New Orleans Jazz Funeral to the letter, if you so wish.

However, if you just want to incorporate certain elements of the format, we can do that do for you too.

With years of experience at performing at funerals all over the country, Silk Street Jazz can make a funeral of a loved one a tailor-made celebration of their life.

Just get in touch to find out more information.

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