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Origins of Jazz Intro to Jazz Jazz is a strictly American style of music Created by musicians who were predominantly African American Created for performing in the streets, bars, brothels, and dance halls in New Orleans other Southern cites What is Jazz? Jazz is characterized by:

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Intro to jazz l.jpg
Intro to Jazz

  • Jazz is a strictly American style of music

  • Created by musicians who were predominantly African American

  • Created for performing in the streets, bars, brothels, and dance halls in New Orleans other Southern cites


What is jazz l.jpg
What is Jazz?

  • Jazz is characterized by:

    • Improvisation

    • Syncopation

    • Steady beat

    • Unique tone colors and performance techniques

  • Term “jazz” became popular in 1917


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When did Jazz get its start?

  • Probably as early as 1900, but because early jazz did not exist in notation, it’s impossible to know when jazz was first heard

  • First jazz recording was the Dixieland Jazz Band in 1917

  • Has since developed into several styles, including:

    • New Orleans

    • Swing

    • Bebop

    • Cool Jazz

    • Free Jazz

    • Jazz Rock


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Jazz and Society

  • Center of jazz has shifted from New Orleans to Chicago, Kansas City, and New York

  • No “center” for jazz exists today, as the music has spread worldwide

  • Originally intended as dance music, but since the 1940’s, newer styles are intended for listening

  • As likely to hear jazz in a concert hall as in a bar or nightclub


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Jazz as a part of musical culture

  • Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall have regular jazz series

  • Jazz Masterworks Orchestra has been founded at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History

  • Colleges offer course and majors in jazz


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Roots of Jazz

  • Blend of many cultures, mostly West African, American, and European

  • West African influences include:

    • Improvisation

    • Drumming and percussive sounds

    • Complex rhythms

    • Call and Response- a voice or instrument is answered by another voice or instrument


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Roots of Jazz

  • American influences included the body of music developed by African Americans:

    • Work songs

    • Spirituals

    • Gospel Hymns

    • Dances like the cakewalk

  • Marching Band instruments were included in early jazz bands

  • Band music helped shape the forms and rhythms of early jazz


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Ragtime (1890’s to about 1915)

  • Ragtime is a style of piano music developed by black pianists who played in saloons and dance halls

  • Characterized by:

    • Duple meter

    • Moderate tempo

    • Highly syncopated right hand

    • Left hand maintains steady beat with “oom-pah”


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Listening: Maple Leaf Rag

  • Composed by Scott Joplin in 1899

  • One of the most famous piano rags in history and first piece by an African American to sell well

  • March form: Two sixteen measure strains, followed by a trio a fourth higher, than two more strains

    • AABBACCDD

  • This recording is from a player piano in 1916


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Blues

  • Refers to both a form of vocal and instrumental music and style of performance

  • Grew out of African American folk music

  • Uncertain when blues originated, but sung in rural areas in the south by 1890’s

  • Original “country blues” sung with guitar accompaniment and no standardized form or style


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Rise of the Blues

  • Form of blues began to standardize with WC Handy’s Memphis Blues(1912) and St. LouisBlues (1912)

  • Became a national craze among African Americans in the 1920s

  • 12 bar blues became standard form in blues music

  • 1940s saw emergence of “urban blues” in Chicago- used electric guitar and amps


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12-bar Blues

  • Involves only three chords: Tonic (I), Subdominant (IV), and Dominant (V)

    • Line 1: Four measures of I

    • Line 2: Two measures IV, two measures I

    • Line 3: Two measures of V, two measures I

  • Each stanza sung or played to the same series of chords, though other may be inserted between the main ones

  • Usually in Duple Meter


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Blues Vocals

  • Use “bent” notes, scoops, slides

  • “Blue” notes and scales used

    • Produced by lowering the 3rd, 5th, and 7th of the scale approximately one half step

  • Rhythm is flexible- often “around” the beat

  • Jazz instrumentalists used 12-bar blues and blue notes as a basis for improvisation


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Listening: Lost Your Head Blues

  • Performed by Bessie Smith, the “empress of the blues”- most famous blues singer in the 1920s

  • Each stanza is a 12-bar blues pattern

  • Improvised cornet imitates the vocal lines

  • Listen for the inflections in her voice- characteristic of jazz and blues singers

  • Smith varies the pitch and rhythm of line to create interest and build to the end of the song


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