Jazz It Up: The Genre That Diversified American Music


Jazz’s origins are rooted in New Orleans in the early 20th century. Jazz was indeed born out of the black experience, a perfect combination of blues and ragtime. In New Orleans, Jazz had it’s own culture and importance to the community. The genre traveled north because more opportunities were being presented to black musicians. As time changed, there were many stylistic changes that happened that created sub-genres such an as bebop, fusion, cool jazz and more.


Jazz has a few unique characteristics such as syncopated rhythms, which is a contribution from ragtime, there are also polyrhythms, improvisation and swing notes. Jazz is known for having the following instruments which are the saxophones, trumpets, and piano. Jazz is seen as improvisational because most artists make up the music on the spot. Their improvisations are usually melodic or harmonic.

Social Implications

Jazz music had significant social implications for the music industry as a whole. The Great Migration which allowed more people to hear and experience jazz music. Also, with the enforcement of Jim Crow, Creoles were no longer allowed to be in social settings with whites, which led them to listen and follow after black musicians.

Important Figures

A few critical figures in the genre are Louis Armstrong, Papa Jack Laine, and Ella Fitzgerald. I find Papa Jack Laine exciting. His contributions to integrating the style with both whites and blacks gave jazz music its diversity. He’s also known as the first white jazz musician. Another prominent figure in the genre is Ella Fitzgerald who was known as the queen of jazz.

Influence of Future Genres

Jazz is a genre that has had an influence and continued to influence all types of music. Jazz influence can be seen in hip-hop, rock, pop, folk, and R&B.

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While this is a more modern example of jazz being infused and sampled in an R&B/Hip-Hop, there is still lots of melodic tones in the song.


For years, the creativity that stems from the black experience in America has been stolen. Clothes, art, food and especially music have all been things that have been taken and rebranded. Blues is an example of a genre of music that has been stolen and rebranded by bands like Led Zeppelin, The Beatles; The Hollies were just a few examples. I feel as though it’s no surprise that white artist and groups have taken continuously from black artists.

You may have wondered why there are so many subcategories of jazz? Jazz’s roots of blues and ragtime quickly caught on to white people who then changed the sound, made it more popular to the white audience. Black people suddenly felt the need to change it to make it their sound again creating multiple sub-genres. Most of jazz is complete creative improvisation, for black artists to express themselves and set them apart from the other white artist.

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