Compose a 500 words assignment on the origins of jazz. Needs to be plagiarism free! Due When most people think of jazz they automatically think of those stand-out solo performers, like Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, and Billie Holiday. But the roots of jazz may go much farther back in time, perhaps as far back as prior to the Civil War. Listeners and historians of jazz often argue that there are certain specific elements that make a piece of music definitively “jazz.” Other experts argue that jazz is the offspring of the blues, while others would credit “ragtime” as having a greater influence than the blues on the jazz genre. So what is jazz? Where did it begin? What makes it distinct as a musical style?
Most people equate jazz with the early to mid 20th century. However, many music historians today believe that the earliest seeds were planted in the United States as far back as 1819, when African-American slaves were performing public African tribal dances and playing string and percussion instruments, the sounds of which would be hinted at later in the jazz music to come.(Gioia 1) That said, it validates the ideals that jazz has strong and deep connections to African sounds and musical influence that contribute incredibly to the art form known as “jazz.” Historically, the “Original Dixieland Jass Band,” is credited with the first “jazz” recording intended for distribution. However, many experts believe that the band was a “copycat” group and not one of the true “pioneers” of the jazz genre. but the recordings popularity gave the music exposure all over the country.(Parker) The jazz that the public is most familiar with was that which was born and cultivated in New Orleans, Louisiana, when great performers, like King Oliver, a cornet player, began entertaining in the early 1900s. The sound was, also, gaining even greater exposure and popularity because many jazz bands traveled as the onboard entertainment on passenger river-boats. By the 1920’s jazz began evolving towards the big band formats, which allowed for different influences from blues, ragtime, African American spirituals, and European music.(Parker) In the 1930s and 1940s the jazz epicenter had become New York City, particularly the clubs of Harlem being the most popular. Jazz as a musical movement was born in the south, then grew and evolved as it migrated to the east, and has maintained itself as one of the most beloved musical forms across the country and throughout the world.
Musically, many historians explain that there are specific elements that are expressed that are unique to jazz music. The greatest distinction that many identify as indicative of jazz can be found in the basic composition. Jazz music is made up of “…polymetric, the use of two or more meters at the same time, and polyrhythmic, the sounding of two or more independent rhythms simultaneously.”(Evans ) This is a great contrast to traditional European musical styles that were, generally, monometric and monorhythmic, one meter and one rhythm at any given time. Researchers, also, point out that the style of the singing of jazz music has its own uniqueness as well. Jazz vocals are often open tone and have a natural quality, which is very different from the trained and structured vocal styles of traditional European performance. One of the finest examples of this open, natural vocal quality is in the singing of Louis Armstrong.(Evans)
In the end, whether you are jazz music historian with an expert’s understanding of the differences between “mainstream” jazz and the musical genres that are similar to it or you are a casual listener who just enjoys what they hear, it makes little difference. We can identify where it began, how it was influenced, and pinpoint its compositional uniqueness, but one thing stands out even more. Whatever has inspired jazz, or what has been inspired by jazz, it is truly an “all American” creation, that blended, both, the differing ethnic and differing cultural elements successfully into something new and beautiful. which is very much a soundtrack for this country’s ideals and potentials.
Evans , Lee. “The African Origins of Jazz.” Pittsburgh Jazz Network. Doctor Nelson Harrison,
06 Apr 2012. Web. Web. 8 Sep. 2012.
Gioia, Ted. “The History of Jazz.” Washingtonpost.com-Oxford University Press 1997, 1. Web.
8 Sep. 2012.
Parker, Jeff. “The Big Band Era and the Rise of Popularity of Big Band Music.” History of Jazz
Music Part I. SwingMusic.net, 2011. Web. 8 Sep 2012.