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Origins of Jazz

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  1. Origins of Jazz

  2. 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

  3. What is Jazz? • Jazz is characterized by: • Improvisation • Syncopation • Steady beat • Unique tone colors and performance techniques • Term “jazz” became popular in 1917

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. 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

  8. 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

  9. 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”

  10. 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

  11. 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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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

  15. 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