Blues and Jazz Essay
Blues and Jazz
Blues and Jazz are both very popular genres of music spanning almost a century of culture, aesthetics and spirituality. As the blues and jazz are horribly interrelated, this paper will try to differentiate the two great genres of music. A. What is Blues? Per definition, blues is the name given to both musical form and genre of blues. First coined by the African-American communities in the South of the United States of America by the end of the 19th Century, Blues was inspired by spirituality, work song, field hollers and chants- uncomplicated narrative ballads that rhymes.
Its form is defined by the use of specific chord progressions- the most common being the twelve-bar blues chord and the singing is for stimulating purposes at slightly lower pitch than that of the major scale. Blues can be divided in several subgenres ranging from country to urban blues to electric blues to blues rock to punk blues. The term “the blues” refers to melancholy and sadness. The blues lyrics often refers to depressed mood as it embodies the African laborer, whose hardships and spirit is wed to the songs. B. What is Jazz?
In contrast, Jazz sprung from the confluence of African and European music traditions. The African heritage evident in the use of blues notes, improvisation, polyrythms, syncopation and the swung note. The term “jazz” originated from a West Coast slang term and first used to refer to music in Chicago. Jazz has spawned plenty of genres from New Orleans Dixieland to big-band style swing to bebop to latin jazz to Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz to jazz-rock to acid jazz. The spread of jazz cultivated music and aesthetics around the world, hence, giving rise to plenty of unique styles.
II. History A. Origin of Blues The Blues was born just after the civil war in North Mississippi. A singer would sing a line, and a guitar would answer. For many years, Blues was recorded only by memory, depicted and told live and in person. It was first made popular by the black composer, W. C. Handy in 1911-1914 The publication of Handy’s “Memphis Blues” and “St. Louis Blues” has made Blues popular. By the 1920s, Blues became a national craze. Mamie Smith recorded the first vocal blues song, “Crazy Blues”.
The later 40’s and early 50’s saw the like of Willie Dixon playing what was Mississippi Delta blues backed by bass, drums, piano and occasionally harmonica and so began the popularity of blues on national television. Meanwhile, T-Bone Walker and B. B. King pioneered a style of guitar playing that combined jazz technique with the blues tonality and repertoire. In the 1960’s, bands like the Rolling Stones had picked up the Blues and brought it to young American white men. Rock, since the 1960’s, went through several blues revivals. The latest generation of blues players has drawn a new generation listeners to the blues.
B. Origins of Jazz New Orleans is often credited as the birth place of Jazz. African-American music, through the Blues began the improvisation of Jazz. The most influential man is Louis Armstrong, the father of modern jazz. The swing era (1930s-40s) is the most popular and accessible time of Jazz, during this time, Jazz was the most popular music in America. What followed the swing era was one of the most important creative eras since the inception of Jazz. Mid 1940’s to mid 1950’s saw the birth of bebop. Quicker pace and complex harmony were combined with popular melodies to create this kind of subgenre.
Jazz in the 1960s was inspired by the avant garde movement. Jazz musicians took the genre to the boundaries of creativity and began to speak out on social issues. The current era of jazz can be deemed to be a combination of the avant garde and neoclassical movement. Through improvisation, current musicians keep pushing jazz to the boundaries of music, experimenting with hip hop and other forms of music. III. Instruments and Musicians A. Instruments/Musicians in Blues Blues uses just about any musical instrument- guitar, piano, harmonica, bass guitar, drums, saxophone, vocals, trumpet, trombone.
Different performers use different kinds of instruments. For instance, performers such as Frank Stokes, and Memphis Minnie utilised instruments such as washboard, fiddle, kazoo and mandolin. Musicians who have been famous in Blues include the like of Josh White (1914 or 1915-1969), Sonny Boy Williamson I (1914-1948), Gladys Bentley (1907-1960), T-Bone Walker (1910-1975), Roosevelt Sykes (1906-1983), Memphis Slim (1915-1988), Arnold Moore (1914-2005), “Baby Face” Leroy Foster (1923-1958), Lenny Kravitz (born 1964). B. Instruments/Musicians in Jazz
Just like blues, jazz uses just about any musical instrument- saxophone, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute, piano, guitar, double bass, tuba, drums, vocals, vibraphone. Famous jazz musicians include Louis Armstrong (1901–1971), Thelonious Monk (1917–1982), Maynard Ferguson (1928-2006), Herbie Hancock (born 1940), Benny Carter (1907–2003), Glenn Miller (1904–1944), Charles Mingus (1922–1979). IV. Audiences A. Blues Audience The Blues originally was sang by the African-American laborer, to express his emotions on the general hardships in life.
However, blues has reached the whole world. All the drama is still there but it is spread for those who can appreciate it. Anyone or everyone can be the audience. B. Jazz Audience Jazz, was spawned by the blues and since its inception, has now gathered millions of audiences around the world. There is no selective audience for this genre, anyone who appreciates jazz music is welcome to be its audience. V. Conclusion Blues is considered as the forerunner of Jazz, given that it started earlier and it actually spawned jazz music.
Blues also speaks of traditions and personal experiences (the African-American laborer). Hence, Blues is more of a feel-based kind of music. It is very free, the only purpose is to relay the feelings, expressions of the artist. Jazz, for its part, is considered as dance music and improvisation is at its core. Jazz also incorporates more color, this is tricky for non-musicians and is far more technical in its aspect. Jazz is an exploration on how to make music more colorful, hence jazz spawned a lot of subgenres.
When it comes to audience, there is only the matter of appreciation. Anyone who appreciates blues is welcome to blues. The same principle applies to jazz music. Works Cited: History-of-rock. com “A Short Blues History. ” n. d. 27 Jul. 2009 <http://www. history-of-rock. com/blues. htm>. Unc. edu. “A (very) brief history of jazz. ” n. d. 27 Jul. 2009 <http://ils. unc. edu/~jnvicker/inls181/final/histpart2. html>. Wikipedia. “Blues. ” n. d. 27 Jul. 2009 <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Blues>. Wikipedia. “Jazz. ” n. d. 27 Jul. 2009 <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Jazz>.