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Origins of Jazz

Jazz is a musical style that was originated at the beginning of the 20th century in black communities in the Southern United States.

It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions.

African heritage:

blue notes




swung note.



European heritage: 

use of developed instruments

music theory


writing system.

A Brief overview about develope of Jazz


  • It was born as a black way to make entertaiment music.

  • This style was born in souther USA, specially Texas, Loussiana, Mississipi, and Alabama.

  • It used he piano as unique instrument for two reasons:

    • It was cheaper to hire only one musician.

    • The piano was the most popular instrument in that time.

  • The piano and the melody was taken from the european music theory.

  • The broken rhythm and the polyrhythm was taken from the african music style.

  • It was a social music, for dancing.

Scott Joplin

  • He was an afroamerican composer and pianist, born in Texas (1867-1917).

  • He was born into a musical family of laborers, and learnt to play banjo and guitar, and sing into a quartet.

  • He traveled as an itinerant musician through southern USA.

  • He brought the ragtime music to popular knowledge in Chicago (Illinois).

  • He became a piano teacher, and wrote two operas:

    • A guess of honor (lost) 

    • Treemonisha.

  • He is known by his piano music, ragtime pieces, specially “The entertaiment”, “Maple Rag time” or “The Easy Winners”.


Gospel music in general is characterized by:

Dominant vocals (often with strong use of harmony)

Referencing lyrics of a Christian nature.

It was used on churches, by black communities.

It was developed during the 1900's.

It is based on the Bible, specially on the Jesus Christ’s life.

Several forms of gospel music utilize:


piano or Hammond organ


bass guitar

increasingly, electric guitar.

Rhythm used proceeded from the african music, so it’s very common find polyrhythms and dance forms.

It is also called “spirituals” or “black spirituals”Mahalia Jackson and the Golden Gate Quartet were artist from this style.

Mahalia Jackson

She was an american gospel singer.

She was born in 1911, and died in 1972.

Known as "The Queen of Gospel", she had a beautiful contralto voice.

She was a civil rights activist as well.

She recorded about 30 albums.

New Orleans Style (Dixie)

It was the first black music called "jazz".

It became a music style for both white and black people, during the 1910's.

It was developed on the Deep South of U.S: specially Lousiana and the city of New Orleans.

It was a music played on street. There was even a fictitious neighborhood called "Storyville".

They used to make dances and marching music.

The instruments they played became the standard jazz instruments:

Brass instruments: Trombone, tuba and trumpet.

Reed instruments: Clarinet.

Percussion: Drums.

String instruments: Guitar, banjo and sometimes piano.

They used improvisation over a chordal sucession.

Most musicians were self-taught, but there were also well-educated musicians.

Most dixie songs have two parts: The first slow with a lot of improvisation and the second fast.

During the 1910's dixiw musicians went north to the cities of Chicago (Illinois) and New York City (New York).

"Tailgate Ramble" by Preservation Hall Jazz Band

"Basin Street Blues" by Heartbeat Dixieland Jazz Band

Jerry Roll Morton (1885-1941)

He was an american ragtime, jazz pianist, bandleader and composer.

He was one of the first musicians that use iprovisation.

The "Jelly Roll Blues" was the first jazz publication in history (1915).

He used the "Spanish Tingle":

Habanera rhythm.

Tiplets (three against two).

Some works of him were:

Wolverine blues


Black Bottom stomp


I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say.


He had a great musical talent, but he was also arrogant.


It was also a music for black and white people, but more influenced by white european music.

Musicians were well-educated and virtuoso soloist.

The big jazz band was developed in this style during the 1920's:

Brass instruments: trombone, tuba, trumpet.

Reed instruments: Saxophone, clarinet.

String instruments: violin, double bass, piano.

Percussion: Drum set.

The modern drum set was invented for this music style.

Some swing artists were: Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington.

It was also a dance music, with a frenetic way of dancing.

It was developed in Chicago (Illinois)

It was a collective sound, with some virtuoso solos.

Great use of the improvisation.

Glenn Miller - In the Mood

Duke Ellington - Take the "A" train

Count Basie - Swingin' the Blues

Prima - Sing, sing, sing

Swing dance competition

Benny Goodman (1909-1986)

He was an american jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader.

He was widely known as the "King of Swing"

During the 1930's his band was one of the most famous in America.

He was one of the first musicians to defend the racially-integrated jazz bands.

Some jazz pieces:


Memories of you


On the sunny side of the street




It was originated in the afro-american communities of the Deep South of America.

Its roots are deep in the american culture.

It started during the 19th Century as spiritual, work songs field hollers, shouts and chants.

They sang through rhymed narrative ballads.

It was developed during the 1930's.

Blues always uses the same chord progression.

Blues has its own scale, known as "Blue scale"

It's very common the use of the "Blue note": that's a note bent from minor to major.

Normally, lyrics are sad and depressed. That's why they called blues.

It was the first jazz style to use the electric guitar.

Instruments they usually used in blues style were:


Drum set

Double bass

Electric guitar

There are two concepts used in the blues style: Groove and Riff

Groove: it's a rhythmical pattern, formed by very repetitive shuffles.

Riff: It's a progression of grooves.

Some blues artist were: B.B. King, Bessie Smith, Hollin' Wolf, Muddy Waters or John Lee Hooker

Muddy Waters - Hoochie Coochie Man

B.B. King  - The thrill is gone

Elmore James (1918-1963)

He was an american blues guitarist, songwriter and bandleader.

He was known as "the King of the Slide guitar"

He had an unique guitar style:

Loud amplification

Stirring voice.

He used a modified acoustic guitar.

He started playing in Chicago, in nightclubs.

He had a hard life, because of alcohol and drug's abuse.

Little is known about him.

Elmore James - Dust my broom

Elmore James - It hurts me too

Elmore James - The Sky is crying

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