by Darlene Nawuridam


Jazz is one of the most well-respected forms of music. This genre of music was derived from Ragtime and Blues in the late 19th century and early 20th century, and the origins of the genre trace back to New Orleans. Jazz, when it first began, was seen as a sin. The genre is a combination of African, French, and Caribbean music. There are few sub-genres within the genre itself. These sub-genres include traditional jazz, swing jazz, bebop, cool jazz, free jazz, and jazz fusion.

Even though the genre originated in New Orleans, jazz musicians traveled to different parts of the United States, allowing for the genre to be heard by many different demographics.

Elements of Jazz

Elements of jazz include,

Syncopation is a rhythm in music that goes against the pattern of the time signature by putting the accents on the off or weak beats.

Swing is created by a swung eighth note; a swing in an eighth note comes from a group of three notes called triplets.

Improvisation gives the artist freedom during a set to add whatever they feel is needed to make the music sound better.  

Instruments in Jazz

The main instrument in the genre includes the trumpet, piano, saxophone, drums, and bass. The trumpet is the most used instrument in jazz. Louis Armstrong, who broadened the style of the genre he was also known for introducing the trumpet solo to the genre.

Prominent Jazz Musicians

Buddy Bolden 

Louis Armstrong

Duke Ellington

Miles Davis 

Thelonious Monk

Billie Holiday

Traditional Jazz

This is the first form of the genre. It originated in New Orleans, as stated before, and was a combination of blues and ragtime. The instruments popular with this style of jazz are trombone, clarinet, and trumpet.

Some prominent musicians within this style of jazz are Buddy Bolden and Louis Armstrong.

Dixieland – Buddy Bolden (trad jazz). 

Swing Jazz

This style of jazz developed in the 1930s and 1940s. The name came from the emphasis on the offbeat this form relied on. Swing is a blend of new styles of music written by musicians during this era, mixed with rhythms by musicians during the trad jazz era. Musicians in this era also were almost always accompanied by a band. (Swing band or big band) Notable musicians of the swing era include Duke Ellington. When the music became too fast for the audience to dance to the style started to die down.

Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington – t Don’t Mean A Thing 


This style of jazz was developed in the mid-1940s. Bebop is composed of a fast tempo, fast chord changes, and improvisation. Bebop derived when the younger musicians in jazz started to be creative with the genre and wanted to make music that made the audience pay close attention to rather than music that just made the audience want to dance, which swing did. Some influential bebop artists include Charlie Parker and Miles Davis.

Miles Davis – So What